Neville names England’s ‘biggest asset’ as Keane hails three stars
Gary Neville thinks Gareth Southgate is England’s “biggest asset” as Roy Keane chose to praise three England stars in the 1-0 win over Croatia.
Raheem Sterling’s first tournament goal – and England’s first at Wembley in front of fans since November 2019 – was enough to secure a narrow win in sweltering conditions.
It was an ideal start to Group D but the Euro 2020 challenges continue, with Scotland next up at Wembley on Friday night.
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England don’t look like England and that’s brilliant
Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice did a particularly good job of controlling the midfield against the likes of Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric, while Sterling was a threat all game.
And Keane praised all three in a glowing review of England’s performance, he told ITV: “There was talk before the game about maybe taking a draw but l thought it was vital they got a win. I thought it was a very good performance by England.
“Very mature, how they managed the game and they mixed their game up well – good short passes then stretching Croatia.
“What they did which was vital was winning the midfield battle. If you win the midfield battle it gives you a foothold to win football matches. Phillips and Rice were excellent. A very good day for England.
“The modern midfielder has to be able to get forward. What l liked about the England goal is that the midfielders saw a bit of space and ran into it. Football can be a simple game.
“It was a huge goal as well for Sterling when you consider the criticism he has had in the last few months. But he has never let Gareth Southgate down.
“When you win a game of football it justifies all your decisions. If they had lost or drawn today, everyone would have been after Gareth.
“But when you win a game of football, it justifies everything. Gareth got it spot-on today.”
Although fellow pundit Neville was impressed by England’s performance, he saved most of his praise for manager Southgate.
“We can talk about Phillips or Sterling being our best player, but our biggest asset is our manager,” Neville said.
“The clamour in past years would have been to go for Grealish. But Southgate hasn’t even brought him off the bench.
“He is willing to make the unpopular decisions and the decisions that some of us at times don’t think he should make. But he knows that group better than anyone and he knows how to get a performance and a result better than anyone.
“He is vastly experienced and, as an England fan, l feel very comfortable with him. What he did today was really good.”