Chris Waddle exclusive interview

The ex-England star discusses his thoughts on the current England squad, Gareth Southgate and more.

Chris Waddle | Sportingbet

On Southgate’s contract renewal…

"Southgate fully deserves his extended contract. We had an unbelievable World Cup and he’s got the country believing that we can win a trophy for the first time in years.

"He’s done a great job in connecting the fans and the media to the England set up, which has been a problem over recent years. England had a fantastic run at the World Cup and it made people start believing England could compete with the top nations again."

What England are lacking to compete with the best…

"England are lacking creativity in midfield. We don’t have a player that can connect the defence and attack and it starves the service to the front three.

"England’s squad is full of midfielders who cover a lot of ground and work hard to get the ball back. There’s no playmakers in the team, and we won’t be able to convincingly compete with the world’s best teams whilst this is the case.

"England don’t have a central midfielder that makes you think somethings going to happen when they’re on the ball no matter where they are on the pitch.

"We like to play safe and reliable football, but England need to start taking risks when attacking and players like Maddison will start to offer this service to the front three."

On Gareth Southgate criticising the Premier League’s early start to the season…

"Players aren’t being given enough time to rest and recover from tournaments. Players are suffering from fatigue more regularly and it’s going to end their careers a lot quicker.

"The Players Union should be protecting the players and their welfare to a better standard. Players are competing in too many games every year and within four or five years they will be burnt out.

"The league shouldn’t kick off until October following an international tournament. Fans pay a lot of money to watch football and they want to see the players at the top of their ability, which is being hampered by the volume of games they’re playing.

"Players have gone from getting 7-8 weeks break, to 3-4 weeks. There’s a lot of greed in the game now and it will come at a cost of more regular injuries to players."

Gareth Southgate | Sportingbet

On domestic trophies…

"The FA need to put an end to the League Cup. Most clubs play a second fiddle team which shows no one is taking it seriously anymore.

"The FA Cup in the best domestic knockout competition in the world. To cut back on the amount of games being played, it makes sense to drop the League Cup. Teams can then focus on the League with only one knock out competition."

On England managers having long contracts…

"The FA won’t make the same mistake with long contracts anymore. Southgate’s contract will have clauses that mean he’ll be gone if he doesn’t meet certain requirements.

"Southgate has set himself a high expectation now due the World Cup. The nation has been saying this is our year for decades and with the talent we’ve got coming through, Gareth is in the best position to take this team forward.

"Southgate will feel secure with the new contract, but it’s only a bit of paper. If he doesn’t perform then he’ll be gone, but I’m confident that he’ll be there for at least four years."

On England playing the world’s best teams more regularly…

"England can only benefit from playing better opponents more often. Southgate has to maximise his squad rotation, or risk burning out our best players before we even get to the knock out stages.

"It was clear from the international break that a lot of players were tired. It’s been a long year for a lot of players and the Euro qualifications will begin at the end of the season, so Southgate will need to utilise his squad depth to keep players fit.

"England shouldn’t get carried away with their result against Spain. We beat them, but 9 times out of 10 that result could look very different."

On Kane’s start to the season…

"Kane will face a tough year from the player respect he’s earnt. After winning the World Cup Golden Boot, defenders will work even hard on the pitch to try and keep him out, but that’s something he’ll have to get used to.

"Kane started superbly at the World Cup, but it was clear he was knackered by the time England faced Colombia. He was the captain and best goal scorer in the team, so there wasn’t a chance Southgate was going to rest him.

"Kane will get less chances in a game now. He will have to be highly clinical in front of goal in order to keep his record up, especially as he plays a deeper role for England. He’s moving around the pitch a lot but he’s lost some of his sharpness which he needs back, it’ll be frustrating for him but he’s a marked man because he’s earned the respect."

On Pochettino resting Kane…

"Kane will be firing on all cylinders again if he’s given a rest. He’s clearly suffering from fatigue and we won’t see him back to his best until he’s given a much needed rest.

"Tottenham’s injuries to Alli and Eriksen could be the rest they need. Tottenham are missing some big players, but it will be like new signings when they come back in to the fold. If Tottenham can pick up some points in the next few games whilst giving Kane a rest, he’ll be a real handful again once he’s back."

Harry Kane | Sportingbet

On Harry Winks filling the creative mould for England…

"Winks doesn’t offer anything different to England. He’s a great player with a lot of prospect, but he’s not the missing link England need.

"I’m not sure Winks is as creative as everyone thinks. England don’t have a player like Eriksen, Modric or Rakatic that can drive the ball forward and unlock doors. Winks is a hardworking tidy footballer, but he’s not like a Gerrard, who gets the ball, passes and scores. He may grow into that role but no one has seen him play enough to make that prediction."

On Mourinho getting the best out of Rashford…

"Rashford won’t progress until he picks a position. He came on to the scene as a striker, but now we often see him out on the wing.

"Manchester United and England need to see where he performs best and play him there. He floats between the left and right too much and he needs to make sure he doesn’t become a utility man.

"He’s a versatile player, but he needs to be identified as a player. He’s not had that at Manchester United and it must be frustrating for him."

On Rashford securing first team football…

"Rashford will have to leave if he doesn’t get regular first team football. It’s vital at this age that Rashford is playing regularly and in the position that best suits him.

"He needs to get games and if he’s not getting games at United then he needs to go elsewhere in order to get it. There’ll be a time when he decides to look at other teams where he can play week in week out, he’s never been in that position and he needs that at some point."

On Rashford joining a top six team…

"Rashford would start ahead of Morata at Chelsea. It would be hard for him to replace anyone at City or Liverpool and he wouldn’t be happy to sit on the bench.

"There would be a good chance for him to get in the Chelsea team. He would be up against Giroud, but he offers something very different and would get selected ahead of Morata.

"Rashford could play wide left for Tottenham, but he wouldn’t get ahead of Kane, or the front two of Arsenal. His agent will only listen to offers from teams that select him as first choice, in the position that he wants to be playing in."

On young English players like Sancho going abroad to get first team football…

"Sancho will improve drastically by playing abroad. He’ll eventually move back to the Premier League having learnt a side of the game others haven’t experienced.

"He made a good impression when coming on against Croatia and offers Sterling some healthy competition. He has shown that he has a lot of quality and potential for both club and country now, and will be a nightmare for fullbacks with his trickery. If he continues to perform well then he’ll be selected ahead of players such as Rashford, and rightly so.

"Whether playing in the Premier League or the Bundesliga the key thing is England’s players need first team football.

"Players struggle with a new language and culture when playing abroad and it’s not easy to adapt to the style of football. The Premier League is constantly end to end, but European football is more tactical, meaning players have to be more patient. This has vastly benefited other national teams and it would be beneficial to the England national team to see more English players play aboard.

"The Premier League pays a lot more money, whether players are on the bench or first team and it’s money that they won’t get elsewhere. Sancho has looked past the money he may have been offered to stay and will reap the benefits with first team football."

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