Matt Le Tissier Interview: Defensive Southgate could be England’s downfall; Jude Bellingham has potential to win Ballon d’Or


Defensive Southgate could be England’s downfall

In an exclusive interview with The Sports Daily, former Premier League star Matt Le Tissier believes that Gareth Southgate’s defensive tactics are the only thing that can stop England winning the European Championships next year.

The Southampton legend also explained why he believes Jude Bellingham has Ballon d’Or potential, why Harry Kane will return to the Premier League and what’s missing from the new-look Soccer Saturday line-up.

Interview highlights:

  • Concerns that Southgate’s tactics will prevent England Euro 2024 glory
  • ‘Complete Package’ Jude Bellingham has Ballon d’Or potential 
  • Harry Kane will return to England to take Shearer’s top goal scorer record
  • Soccer Saturday’s new line up lacks humour and camaraderieF

Defensive Southgate could be England’s downfall

England are joint favourites to win Euro 2024 and have a wealth of attacking talent within their ranks but Matt Le Tissier fears that manager Gareth Southgate’s pragmatic tactical approach could stifle the Three Lions’ chances of success at the tournament;

Matt Le Tissier: “The players we’ve got at the moment – I think we should be amongst the favourites to win that tournament. Absolutely. 100 percent. My one kind of one question mark is – is the manager positive enough for us to do that? That’s been my one question mark about Gareth. 

“He’s put us in some good positions with some solid, steady football. But when it came to the big moments, I don’t think he was positive enough when they were ahead in games. I felt like we became a little bit too defensive – the 2020 final illustrated that, so hopefully we can continue to learn from that.”

Jude Bellingham has potential to win Ballon d’Or

Jude Bellingham has had a monumental start to his Real Madrid career and Le Tissier reckons the midfielder could become the first Englishmen to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or since Michael Owen in 2001;

Le Tissier: “I would say Bellingham has Ballon d’Or potential. I watched him live during the England vs Italy game a few weeks back and that was the first time I’d seen him in the flesh. He was very impressive – really impressive work rate and his ability in controlling tight situations of the football is second to none.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a strong guy, and he’s got an edge to him already at 20-years-old. He’s not afraid to speak his mind to the older senior pros and tell them where they should be. I think this boy’s got everything, I really do. He is a potential Ballon d’Or winner. He is the complete package.”

Harry Kane has unfinished business in the Premier League

Harry Kane departed Tottenham in the summer still 47 goals shy of Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League goalscoring record but Le Tissier is certain the striker will return to England to claim the crown after a few seasons with Bayern Munich;

Le Tissier: “If I was in Harry Kane’s shoes, I still would have had one eye on being the all time Premier League top goal scorer. That was within reach. If he plays until he’s 36, 37 and then comes back to the Premier League, has maybe three or four seasons back in England, then he could still do it. So it’s possible that he might do two or three seasons at Bayern and come back.”

Soccer Saturday lacks humour without Jeff Stelling

Le Tissier was axed along with Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas by Soccer Saturday in 2020 and the former Saints winger says the show has lost some of its charisma since, especially with the exit of anchorman Jeff Stelling this season; 

Le Tissier: “Occasionally, if I’m in I’ll watch it. There just doesn’t seem to be quite the same humour, quite the same level of camaraderie there than there used to be. I think it’s difficult because obviously we had a team there that was together for a long time. Jeff Stelling’s left now as well – that’s a tough job for Simon Thomas because Jeff was just incredible at that job that he did.

“For me that show was kind of built around Jeff. We were there simply as the extras. I’m not sure what Mike Dean has added to it. I’ve seen him on there a couple of times. I did see the clip where Paul Merson decided to get a little bit angry with him a couple of weeks ago.”

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