Gary Neville cautiously optimistic about England, but Roy Keane sums it up perfectly 1 month ago

Gary Neville cautiously optimistic about England, but Roy Keane sums it up perfectly

"Controlled progression."

Not exactly a slogan you would want to be slapping on the side of a bus. For Gary Neville, though, he was nodding sagely as ITV's Mark Pougatch uttered the words.

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To be straight, few will remember England vs. Czech Republic if Gareth Southgate's side go on to reach the final, or win Euro 2020. Tonight was a stepping done, and Czech Republic got stepped on. England progressed, in a controlled way.

They looked strong in the opening 30 minutes and could have been 2-0 up. They had to settle for 1-0, with Raheem Sterling taking one of the two golden chances presented to him. After that, they retreated into themselves and played safe. The Czechs did not mount much of a fight, but also make it to the Last 16.

Over on ITV, it was left to Gary Neville, Ian Wright and Roy Keane to sum up England's latest win, and how they can mount a serious trophy tilt. Neville talked around it for an age, but it was left to Keane - later on - to deliver the killer line. Neville began:

"I've said it before and I'll say it again - I don't think England are going to win this tournament by outplaying France, Germany, Portugal, Spain. I don't think we've got the players to do that.

"We've got good players, but I think we're going to win it in the way we're playing now - keeping clean sheets and making sure the backline is protected by those two lads [Rice and Phillips] in midfield, and then creating those individual moments of brilliance. We do have those players in the team that can achieve that for us."

Just for the record, here are some of the players in England's Euro 2020 squad:

  • Phil Foden
  • Raheem Sterling
  • Jack Grealish
  • Harry Kane
  • Marcus Rashford
  • Mason Mount
  • John Stones
  • Kyle Walker
  • Luke Shaw

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France and Germany have both looked good, but Spain an Portugal have been more than patchy. Still, Neville believes the pragmatic Southgate approach is the way to go.

"I've been part of England teams where the group stages were an emotional rollercoaster; a circus almost," he said. "If this was Germany or this was another country, we'd be thinking, 'They look calm, they look in control'.

"We don't think that when we're England - we always want more. We want the brilliance, we want the 3-0 win. But I feel really confident about this group. I actually trust the manager. I said it before the tournament, that I do think he knows what he is doing with this group.

"He knows their capabilities and he knows how they can win games. A massive game, next week. A giant of a game, but they have a week to prepare for that. I'm looking forward to it."

When it came to selection debates for the Last 16, Neville joked that it was very English, again, to start talking about leaving players out after a side had progressed to the next stage.

He suggested that Southgate could even revert to a 3-5-2 that switches to five at the back when faced with a team, such as Germany or France, that likes to press forward in attacking waves.

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"Before this tournament, you could have went Rashford, Mount and Foden. Tonight we've seen Saka, Sterling and Grealish, and those three have put the first three I've mentioned under pressure, and it wouldn't surprise me if Gareth stuck with these three.

"I think Foden will come back in but, I have to say, it would be tough to leave any of those three out after this."

As per usual, on ITV, it was up to Roy Keane to deliver the neutral, no-nonsense take on matters.

"The big test for the back four - back five with the goalkeeper - next week, is against one of the big guns. They've not been tested yet."

That put a cork in it.

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