Former England goalkeeper David James believes that the England football team’s coach Gareth Southgate and his players will rise to the occasion in the UEFA Euro 2020 final against Italy on Sunday night.
The former England goalkeeper thinks ‘it’s coming home’, not because England are playing at home but because they have a very wise and cool head in their manager on the sidelines.
“One thing Gareth has done is change this team to suit the opposition not only with the personnel but also with the setup and tactics and his selections have been spot on so far,” James, who is in Mumbai as an expert for Sony Sports, told a media conference on Friday evening.
Addressing the “It’s Coming Home” frenzy, he said, “I have avoided saying that as long as possible in this tournament. So, if football is coming home, It is coming home.”
The former Kerala Blasters manager, who represented England in 53 games, has felt that Southgate has been smart in extracting the best out of the English players, including Raheem Sterling, one of the standout performers in the tournament.
“Raheem has faced criticism by journalists and fans. As an England fan, I find the sources outdated. The goal tally may not be as good as previous seasons but his contribution is right up there with when Man City won the league. Gareth’s selection is based on what players do in training and his expectations from them to deliver on the pitch, not what they have achieved in the league and Raheem has been delivering for him. So, Gareth has got it right,” James opined.
The former Liverpool and Portsmouth goalkeeper also insisted that the Italian goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma has done better in the Euros than his English counterpart Jordan Pickford despite the Everton shot-stopper keeping five clean sheets in six games.
“Jordan Pickford had a fantastic tournament. He is almost like Ronaldo. He has broken records of most clean sheets. When you look at what he has had to do, he hasn’t been overly tested in spite of making great saves. Whereas Donnarumma has been put under pressure in the penalties where he made the winning save. So, Donnarumma is in better form, even though he has conceded more goals. So I think Donnarumma is the one to watch,” he said.
When specifically quizzed about his prediction for the final, he quipped, “Going into the Euro, my second favorite team has been Italy and one of the things I have been saying is whoever beats Italy, wins the trophy.”
Featured photo: Frank Augstein /Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP