Joe Cole believes ‘the time is now’ as England head into Euro 2024

By Sports Desk March 27, 2024

Joe Cole feels like “the time is now” as England head into this summer’s European Championship.

Gareth Southgate is preparing to take charge of his fourth and potentially last major tournament, having reached the World Cup semi-finals and quarter-finals as well as a continental final.

England’s agonising penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 showpiece remains raw but has only increased the squad’s desire to go one better in Germany.

Cole believes those shared experiences are indicating this can be “a real positive summer”, with the former international excited by what Southgate’s side can achieve.

“Listen, they were penalty kicks away from winning a tournament,” the former England international told the PA news agency. “There’s been semi-finals, quarter-finals – the experience is there now.

“They have got young players in the squad, but they’re so experienced and so knowledgeable, as a team and as a group. You know, I think the time is now.

“The only difference going into this tournament is there’s a little bit more expectation on them and it’s how do they cope with that, but I think they’ve got the right manager for that.

“I think Gareth will manage the anxieties of the squad – of the team – and just keep them focused on the task in hand.

“I think Gareth is in the right place. Very, very good character in that situation. I think it actually sort of would benefit to have someone of his character there.”

Cole is well placed to analyse England’s chances having represented his country 56 times and worked as a pundit throughout the build-up to Euro 2024.

The retired creative midfielder is also a former international team-mate of Southgate, who he believes deserves more appreciation for the job he has done in charge of the men’s team.

“Factually, Gareth Southgate is the most successful England manager since Alf Ramsey,” Cole said.

“If you’re going to have a discussion with someone and anyone’s picking holes out of it, that is the facts.

“He’s taken the team deeper in tournaments than anyone and he’s just underappreciated. Underappreciated the job he’s done.”

Cole – who has signed up to play in Soccer Aid for UNICEF on June 9 – was in the same 2002 World Cup squad as Southgate and part of the last England side to play in a major tournament in Germany.

Sven-Goran Eriksson’s much-hyped ‘Golden Generation’ bowed out in the quarter-final stage of the 2006 World Cup and Cole believes things are better for the national team this time around.

“It’s a different landscape,” Cole said. “We had different problems to deal with than this group of players.

“When you go into a tournament, you need moments to happen for you. Every tournament we played in, it was either a penalty shoot-out or it was a sending off or an injury.

“These big moments went against us, but ultimately I feel this group are better educated from a footballing perspective.

“I feel where we are in England – in terms of how we play football – is the right way now.

“I feel for many, many years, we weren’t playing in the right way tactically, so I think this group have been brought up under a different system. Underneath it all, I think ultimately they’re better equipped because of that.”

England continued their Euro 2024 preparations with Saturday’s late 1-0 loss to Brazil and even later Jude Bellingham goal in the 2-2 draw with Belgium three days later.

Southgate’s side have two further warm-up friendlies against Bosnia and Iceland in June, with the squad due to fly out to Germany the day after Cole pulls on an England shirt once again in Soccer Aid.

“It’s always nice to go back and play at Stamford Bridge,” he said of the June 9 clash against a World XI at former club Chelsea.

“It always surprises me how popular it is. The kids love it, people tune in, it’s a real family occasion.

“It’s great to be part of and it’s just one of them things that’s a win-win all round for everybody. We love doing it and most importantly it’s for a great cause.”

:: Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2024 takes place on June 9 at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, with tickets available at www.socceraid.org.uk/tickets

Related items

  • Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United: Garnacho and Mainoo fire Red Devils to FA Cup glory Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United: Garnacho and Mainoo fire Red Devils to FA Cup glory

    Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo were the heroes as Manchester United pulled off an upset to beat rivals Manchester City 2-1 in the FA Cup final.

    United boss Erik ten Hag's job was reportedly on the line whatever the result in Saturday's game, but a mix-up between Josko Gvardiol and Stefan Ortega was capitalised upon by Garnacho to hand the Red Devils the lead at Wembley Stadium.

    Mainoo's fine finish made it 2-0 shortly after, and though Jeremy Doku pulled a goal back late on, United held firm to claim the famous trophy for the first time since 2016 and deny City a double after they secured a fourth straight Premier League title last weekend.

    It now remains to be seen whether Ten Hag will suffer the same fate as compatriot Louis van Gaal, who was sacked as United boss after winning the FA Cup eight years ago.

    Pep Guardiola's men started the brighter, though it was United who went close first as Ortega got his body behind Garnacho's fierce strike.

    Garnacho was not to be denied with 30 minutes on the clock, though, as he pounced on a calamitous mix-up in the City defence.

    A long ball over the top was not dealt with by either Ortega or Gvardiol, who inadvertently nodded it beyond his goalkeeper, allowing Garnacho to tuck home into an empty net, becoming the first teenager to score an FA Cup final goal since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2004.

    And another teenager in Mainoo made it 2-0 before the break at the culmination a brilliantly incisive move.

    Garnacho was involved again as he burst down the right and cut back for Bruno Fernandes, whose deft pass teed up 19-year-old Mainoo to coolly slot past Ortega.

    Erling Haaland nearly halved the deficit when he rattled the crossbar after the interval, before Andre Onana made a superb stop to keep out Kyle Walker's ferocious long-range drive.

    Onana should have done better in the 87th minute, though. United's goalkeeper got down to Doku's hopeful attempt, but could only parry it into the corner.

    Yet United ensured Onana's mistake did not prove costly, as City's hopes of a double were dashed and the Red Devils claimed a stunning victory in what could have been Ten Hag's final game at the helm.

    United's teenage daydream

    United went into the game as outsiders, a fair view considering the 31 points that separated these city rivals in the Premier League table, but the Red Devils' youngsters turned up in some style at Wembley to lead their side to glory, as well as securing European football next season.

    Garnacho scored with one of his three shots on target, more than any other player on the pitch, while Mainoo's performance did no harm to his chances of making Gareth Southgate's final squad for Euro 2024, ruthlessly finishing his only big chance and again having an impact in both defence and attack.

    Mainoo's goal also made him the first English teenager to net in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981, and he looks set to be a big fixture for both United and England for many years to come.

    De Bruyne's dismal derby day

    Kevin De Bruyne finished the Premier League season with 10 assists and four goals in just 18 appearances, but he, alongside many of City's stars, looked well off the pace here.

    De Bruyne completed an uncharacteristically low 71 per cent of his passes before Guardiola had seen enough, hauling off the Belgium international for Julian Alvarez with over half an hour left.

    City ended their league campaign with nine straight wins to seal the title, but they looked a shadow of that side this time out and will finish the season with just one trophy, after claiming a treble last term.

    Doku did make an impact after his half-time introduction, but though he managed to cut into United's lead, it was too little, too late.

  • Man Utd's Garnacho and Mainoo become first teenagers to score FA Cup final goal since Ronaldo Man Utd's Garnacho and Mainoo become first teenagers to score FA Cup final goal since Ronaldo

    Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo have become the first teenagers to score in an FA Cup final since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2004.

    In the first half of Saturday's FA Cup final against Manchester City, 19-year-old Garnacho capitalised on a mix-up between Stefan Ortega and Josko Gvardiol to become the first teenager to net in the competition's showpiece match since Ronaldo did against Millwall in 2004, also for the Red Devils.

    Garnacho's goal made him the third teenager to score for United in an FA Cup final after Ronaldo 20 years ago and Norman Whiteside back in 1983.

    Then, just nine minutes later, a brilliant United move ended with Bruno Fernandes laying Garnacho's pass into Mainoo, who coolly finished to double United's lead at just 19-years-old.

    Mainoo's finish means United hold a 2-0 lead at half-time against the Premier League champions, while it's also the first men's FA Cup final to see two different teenagers net. Aged just 19 years and 36 days, Mainoo is the youngest English goalscorer in the game since John Sissons for West Ham in 1964.

    Mainoo is also the first English teenager to score in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981.

  • Buttler 'always' going to return as England T20 captain Buttler 'always' going to return as England T20 captain

    Jos Buttler was "always" going to return as England's limited-overs captain despite the team's poor ODI World Cup defence in India.

    After England won the 2019 ODI World Cup in epic fashion by beating New Zealand in a Super Over at Lord's, their defence of the title in India last year saw them fail to advance from the group stage.

    With England looking to put in a better defence of their T20 World Cup crown in the upcoming tournament in the West Indies and the United States which gets under way in June, Buttler says he was always going to remain limited-overs captain, though he acknowledges he made mistakes in India.

    "My first priority at the moment is being England captain and trying to prepare as best we can for a world tournament," Buttler told Sky Sports. "So I always said to Rob [Key, England managing director] I would definitely be coming back as England captain, and he's made the call on the rest of the players.

    "It's a chapter in the book. It was obviously a really disappointing World Cup, and your pride's dented, your confidence gets dented a bit, but time moves on and there's a really exciting opportunity now.

    "I think sometimes you try and let players play with freedom and you don't want to step in too much but making sure you don't miss things.

    "Maybe more communication at times to make sure people are clear on what is needed from them, on what they want from me or the coach."

    England were due to kick off a four-match T20I warm-up series against Pakistan at Headingley on Wednesday, but the game was abandoned because of rain without a ball having been bowled.

    England will get their T20I World Cup under way when they face Scotland in Barbados on June 4.

    Buttler feels some of the newer faces in the England squad have the potential to lead the team to an improved showing on what was seen in India, saying: "I think we've got a really nice, blended squad, actually. We've got a lot of experience but some guys who are really on the upward curve with the likes of Phil Salt, Will Jacks.

    "Harry Brook is still very early in his international career and those guys I really see trending in the right direction and pushing this team forward."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.