Former Chelsea star Joe Cole said England “needed to be bolder” as Gareth Southgate’s side lost 1-0 to Italy in the Nations League.
In a repeat of last year’s EURO final, England seemed lacking in inspiration and the first half ended goalless.
Although the home side will not take part in the upcoming World Cup after failing to qualify, it was Roberto Mancini’s side who broke through the blockade in the 68th minute through Napoli striker Giacomo Raspadori.
England were ultimately unable to regain control of the game from their opponent and the game ended in another disappointing result in the competition for Southgate’s team.
Speaking on Channel 4 after the game, Cole outlined what he thinks are the main problems in the England squad:
“That’s how we started the game. It was the Italians’ turn and we couldn’t get to them. The problems that keep coming up.
“These guys have the ability. They are top notch players. Jude Bellingham, a 19-year-old, was our best player tonight. But that’s not acceptable with the quality we have because they have the ability to do that.”
The 40-year-old won 56 caps for England and cemented his place at Germany 2006 after impressing in the pre-tournament games.
Aware of how important it can be to make a good impression ahead of a major competition, Cole detailed the importance of England’s final group stage game against Germany.
“It puts a huge strain on the game. It’s the last game we will play as a group before going to Qatar. There’s personality, there’s character in this group, but they’ve strayed in the last five or six games. You can find it. Gareth Southgate needs to find a way to mobilize that group next week.’
Cole wasn’t the only former international to offer his opinion on the team’s disappointing performance in Milan.
The result marked England’s relegation from the Nations League group and Matthew Upson said the result only further articulates the problems within the team at this point.
“Currently having the word ‘relegation’ for this group of players is just rubbing salt in the wounds. It’s about the accomplishment or lack of accomplishment as a team in being able to be creative, coherent and gelled with that type of movement and it passes. It’s not particularly smooth at the moment.
“I didn’t find the distances and angles quite right, especially in large areas. They didn’t pull away from each other at the right angle and created this space. The movement wasn’t there.” The former West Ham star explained on 5 Live.