It’s good to talk: England were like a silent movie!

My expectations against Iceland were to get an early goal and maybe win 3 or 4-0. That would show our opponents that our earlier results were a bit unlucky. We missed chances in the first three games. Once Iceland scored their goals, we seemed to collapse. It was like a boxing match. We knocked them down and then they got up and knocked us down twice.

I remember playing in 1982, against France in the World Cup. We practised me doing a throw-on and Terry Butcher would flick it on. The goal we got was then on the right, Steve Coppell took the throw-on and Bryan Robson scored after 17 seconds.

England have been criticised for Iceland’s first goal, but you’ve got to give Iceland credit. They felt that they were in the match and it gave them the confidence to score the second goal. But I would criticise us defensively there: Joe Hart should have saved the shot. We should have got a block in, before Hart needed to save the shot. Overall, it was poor defensively.

There is a lot of pressure on players at times. Hart is a fantastic goalkeeper, but both goals were to his left-hand side. Goalkeepers tend to have a favourite side and now Hart appears to have a weakness to his left.

I used to play in goal as a youngster and Gordon Banks was my hero. That famous save he made from Pele, at the 1970 World Cup, was on Banks’s favourite side. I picked that up as a youngster.

I still thought “we can win this” but as time went on I thought “we’re not doing our jobs”. Everyone seemed to look at each other, but not say anything. It was like a silent movie! We all know – not just football, not just sport – there needs to be talking. There was no talking, no arguments. If you put all that together, that’s a major problem for winning a football match.

For instance, when Wayne Rooney first came on the scene, as a 17 year-old, he’d get booked making a silly challenge trying to win the ball back. He’d get criticised, but for me that showed passion. Against Iceland, I didn’t see that in Wayne Rooney.

Rooney did well in the first three games, he controlled the second half against Wales. As the captain, he should start the banter on the pitch, the talking. Terry Butcher would have been shouting “Come on lads!” When the fans go quiet, you know you’re not playing well. I think Rooney’s international future is in the balance, in my opinion.

Joe Hart is a very experienced goalkeeper, but I didn’t hear him shout “Let’s get it forward”. There was no enthusiasm. I’d expect the players on the bench, in the technical area, to get shouting, for something to happen. But the spirit was dead. It was very frustrating watching it.

As a player myself, if I wasn’t doing it, I’d expect Terry Butcher or Bryan Robson to be shouting at me. That’s what every England fan would have been expecting too, but it wasn’t happening.

Me with Glenn Hoddle - in our younger days!

Me with Glenn Hoddle – in our younger days!

The lack of a mid-season break is no excuse. I don’t think there is any excuse for the performance. Every single player must look at themselves and ask “did I do my job”? I think the answer would be “no”, by everyone. That goes for the staff as well.

There’s been talk of the players lacking belief in the management and Hodgson has denied this, but the management should know about that, from the training pitch and around the hotel. You’ve got to learn about people, what gives them that little gee-up. If you do the little things in life, the bad things won’t happen.

You’ve got to know each other. I roomed with Graham Rix and he was quite a close friend with me, during my time with Arsenal and England. He’d know how many sugars I’d want in my tea. We could tell each other where we were going wrong. In the Iceland game, that spirit was vanishing as the game went on.

Hodgson has now gone and the FA has got to make a proper decision, for a manager who can get the best out of the players, which Hodgson didn’t do in this tournament. Whoever they go for, the new manager has got to be honest and open. The FA has to take responsibility too. It’s a massive group effort. If they rush into an appointment, it’s a mistake in my opinion.

I would love to be involved in some way, as I believe I have something to offer. I’m in a very good place now and people keep telling me I have something to offer. I have the knowledge to help. I’ve been studying football and I hope my website has opened people’s eyes. If I can help in any way, I’d love to help.

Gareth Southgate appears to be the current favourite and he coached the England under-21s to win the Toulon Tournament this summer. No disrespect to him, but I don’t think he is good enough to manage the full England international team. I look to the FA to appoint someone with presence, to make players perform, in every international.

We need someone who can get us to focus and know those players, inside out. The staff as well. The staff are just as important as the manager, in my opinion. We need someone with a football brain. ‘Should I start him, or have him as a sub’? The likes of Bill Shankly and Brian Clough had the power to make players perform how they needed. We need someone in that mould, plus the football brain of Terry Venables.

I’m saying Glenn Hoddle, Bryan Robson, Terry Butcher – get them together and between the three of them, they would bring success from the very talented group of players that we have. I know some fans might say “he would say that” and that those three might not be well-regarded as having been successful managers, but I know what they have got.

When you get them together, the FA needs to tell them what they want. The conversation should be intense. Not just an hour, but a lot longer. The FA should get them in a nice restaurant, have a nice meal and a nice chat and get to learn about those people. The FA now has to make the right decision. P.S. if you need any help, just give me a call!

This is just the beginning for England

There was a lot of talk about England changing six players, but Roy obviously felt that he wanted to change the full-backs and we were quite good defensively. He wanted to be a bit more aggressive too, with Wilshere, and I thought he played quite well. But the changes didn’t make any difference to the result. The way Slovakia defended, their fans will be over the moon.

But on the other hand, we qualified. The most exciting thing for me is that I think there are more exciting things to come for us in this tournament. This is just the beginning. When you play in the group stages, you know you need to get through the group. When it’s the knockout stages, you know you have to score to be sure of getting through.

I don’t think this England team will be nervous. The players have experience now. Roy will know that we need to step things up a little bit and put the ball in the back of the net. The experience of the last three games will be fantastic for the players.

When I looked at the team and the performance, I thought the understanding between the lads was very good. There’s improvement needed, to make the special chances, so that Kane and Sturridge and Vardy and Rashford can put the ball in the back of the net. But the players are all aware of what they have to do.

Over the next few days the players will look over the videos and watch the games and talk during training, to try different things. It’s not about fitness now. I don’t think they’ve played badly in any way. I don’t think we played badly against Russia. We could have won three games on the trot. All we have to do is step up, tiny little things. They are all small things, but they are all very important.

The right-backs have been our best players so far. We are an attacking side. Defensively we haven’t had too many problems. We’re getting the full-backs forward, but we need to avoid getting too crowded. We need to allow a little more space around our attacking options. We just need to step up our decisions in the final third. Roy and his coaches need to talk to the players, to help them to learn about each other a little bit better.

You have to work hard on the training ground

You have to work hard on the training ground

Communication and information are very important. I’ve said it from day one – we have the talent to go all the way in this competition. Like in all walks of life, we need a little bit of luck. In all three games, the players have put the effort in. I really feel so confident. I think we have nothing to fear. I’m looking forward to watching the next game. As a squad, if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’re going to go a long way.

Being mentally tired can affect players on the pitch. That’s where the manager and the staff should notice these things in training. If Kane for example looks tired, you have to be honest. “Vardy, you’re playing. Harry, I can see you need a rest”. These things must be picked up very quickly. It’s part of being the manager and the staff to pick these things up. These things give you the edge.

Gary Lineker is a fantastic example. He was a terrible trainer, but he enjoyed playing and enjoyed scoring goals! Tiny things can be massive at international level. At club level, there’s time to know the players. There’s less time to know these things at international level. It’s important for the staff to see if players are happy. You want your international players to go out there full of confidence, ready to do their job.

The whole England squad should feel confident and relaxed. Whoever we get in the next round, they should fear us. They might say “Well, England have only scored a few goals”, but they will be scared about us. Other teams will be worried about us. Roy should say “Go out and do what you’ve been doing in the last three games – and score a few goals!”

There’s been nothing wrong with the last three performances. The England squad we’ve got are good enough to go through to the final of the competition.

This tournament is there for England to win it

The win over Wales was about the result on the day. There must have been a lot of pressure on both teams. The result was outstanding.

There was a lot of unnecessary chat before the game, from the managers and players. Coleman said “it’s just another match”. For me, that’s rubbish. It’s one of the biggest games against your big rivals. I know what it’s like, I made my debut against Wales!

I don’t think Bale’s free-kick was special. He got a lot of power behind it. I don’t think Joe Hart was expecting it. In my opinion, he should have saved it. The work-rate of both teams was exceptional, both sets of fans would have been proud of that.

England were on top before Wales scored. Every single English fan was happy to see Vardy on. It was a great decision to bring on Vardy and Sturridge. Roy would have been thinking “We’ve got to score two goals here”. One goal and you’re on a knife-edge then, it had to be two goals.

The lad Sterling, I’d like to stick up for him a bit. They haven’t given him a job to do, it’s like they sent him out and said “just go and play”. In my opinion, he doesn’t have to beat people, the manager could just tell him to get the ball into the box, as many times as possible.

I don’t think his miss was nerves, he just missed it. He’s got to be told his job. Just get crosses in. He hasn’t done that in either game, which makes me think he hasn’t been told to do that.

The changes made England a better team. Rooney ran the game in the second half, everything came through him. The England team knew they needed to score two. Wales didn’t stop trying, but there was a bit of luck with Vardy’s goal, as some linesmen would have given offside. We took control in the second half and it was a fantastic win for England.

They proved on that day and in the first half against Russia that this tournament is there for England to win it. Looking at other teams and their players, I think we’ve got the best group. And I’d rarely say that! I don’t want to put pressure on the players, don’t get me wrong! I want them to go out and play in the way I can see them performing, in my eyes.

England kept going, they had belief that we could get the second. Rashford showed intelligence for a young kid, with great runs. We had great positivity and if we can keep that going for the whole tournament, what a chance we have.

I think Walker has been fantastic and been a great credit to his team. I was saying during the game “Get it out to Walker”. Wales did their homework and realised what a threat he was and tried to stop him going down that right-hand side. And when Sturridge came on, we became more of a threat down the left-hand side.

Sturridge had that little bit of magic and all of a suddenly he squeezed the ball into the net, despite no space whatsoever. It was a fantastic goal. English fans don’t want be over-confident, but they must be looking forward to Monday’s match with Slovakia. That must be great for England supporters.

My expectation is another tremendous effort from our lads. The team spirit is very good and I expect the same effort as from the last two games, as the same effort will be good enough. I’ve had my say, I’ll let Roy pick the team. Let him pick the team he thinks will do the job. Then there’s no pressure on me! I hope Wales qualify as well, to protect me when I go to Wales!

England prove that tiny things can win you matches

I thought it was a very good England performance against Russia. You rely on individual players doing their job. If eleven players do their job, you become a team.

We made chances to win the game easily. At the end of the day, we didn’t take our chances. If we had, we would have won it.

Walker I thought was outstanding. He was causing so many problems down the right-hand side. As the captain, I’d want us to get the ball to him.

He was great on the night, he showed his class and his experience. I thought maybe we could have got him the ball a bit more.

I thought Danny Rose played very very well. He had Sterling on that side and that stopped him getting forward as much as Walker, but I thought both full-backs played exceptionally well.

I thought Dier played his holding role very well. He passed it, he intercepted, he got back when he needed to. For a young kid, 22 years of age, he showed a lot of calmness, all over the pitch. I’d agree with the TV coverage, he looks a future captain.

In attack, it was obvious to anyone that Kane didn’t have his best game. If Vardy had played, the combination of the two of them would have caused problems for Russia. It would have made it easier for the midfield to get the ball to them. It would have given the midfield more options.

Vardy would have done the running. It was one of those games when Kane couldn’t get involved. I don’t think we got enough into him. The two together, they could have caused the Russians a lot of problems.

Lallana first half was very very good for the team but went a bit dead in the second half. Sterling was very quick, but that’s where you need your captain. Robbo would have said: “When you check back on your right foot, cross it”. If Sterling does that five times in the first half and five times in the second, he’d have done his job.

It’s important that the manager can get his message across to the players. The advantage of a captain on the pitch is to tell players what is expected of them. If the players know the ball is coming in, they can make a run and know they have a chance. That for me was a tiny downside on the performance – and tiny things can win you matches.

Me and former England captain David Beckham, in Arsenal's directors' box

Me with former England captain David Beckham, in Arsenal’s directors’ box

For example, if I let the winger get a cross in and they get a chance, Shilts would shout across at me “Ken, don’t let them get a cross”. My job is to stop that winger getting a cross in, or creating something, for that team.

I talked in my first England blog about having something special in reserve. Something like a planned free-kick to use when you need it, but not to waste it if you’re already winning. At 0-0, we needed something special and Dier came up with it.

I was surprised to see Kane taking so many set-pieces, not just the free-kicks but the corners. He’s a goalscorer. Kane shouldn’t take corners, end of. He should be in the box, getting a bit of space off the defender and knocking the ball into the back of the net. Slovakia got a free-kick against Wales and just took it. I think even the ref was shocked! It doesn’t give defenders time to get ready.

I’d repeat, this is just for the England players and fans: we don’t want the opposition knowing what we have up our sleeve. As an example, when I’m now on stage, if the audience are enjoying me telling my old jokes and people are laughing, I save my new ones! Keep something special, for when you need it. I think my old teammate Glenn Hoddle mentioned this on ITV.

Defending a late lead is difficult, but you mustn’t let balls go into your box. Outside your box, shouldn’t be a problem. Most shots should go wide or over. Nothing is perfect. You can’t stop genius or luck, but you can work at this on the training pitch.

The attitude and the same performance, with a few little touches, would be great against Wales. And don’t give Bale any free-kicks around the box! These are all small things, but all so important.

England can learn from Leicester – and need something special in reserve

I’ve got a good feeling about England’s chances at Euro 2016. At the end of the day, it’s about the players needing to perform and do their job on the pitch.

If all the young talent put their individual ability into the team spirit, we could surprise people. The players can take heart from Leicester’s performances and gel together.

We need to be able to surprise the opposition, because they will look to surprise us. We must be ready. Do not be afraid to try something a bit different on the pitch. That can win you the game.

For instance, if a team have a certain way of playing we must be ready to cope with that and anything else they have that’s a bit unexpected.

We need to be prepared for free-kicks. For and against. For, it’s important to have something up our sleeves when it comes to free-kicks. Against, we must know how to deal with them from opponents and be ready for any surprises.

You need to know when to use something special and when to hold it back. If we are leading 2-0, we do not use our special free-kick. We save it for another day. If we are losing 2-0, we bring our special free-kick into play, to get back into the match and give the opposition something to think about.

Winning is about more than just the team on the pitch. It’s coaches, management, staff, the people watching on the bench. If the kit man has an idea, try it.

The opposition will have been watched. Do we notice any changes? We must get that across to the players as soon as possible. It could be small things, but they might make all the difference.

You need talkers on the pitch to be aware. We need to be aware of where they can hurt you and where we can hurt them. Don Howe used to say this. That’s when the players and the staff become a very big part of the team.

Small things can make all the difference

Small things can make all the difference

Terry Venables would have free-kicks planned, for all positions, for all over the pitch. Even from throw-ons – which is as good as a pass by the way – in our own half. We would get a shot, a cross, a switch of play, or purely get into the other half of the pitch.

All the players knew what to do and what position to be in. It was planned that well. We got many great results from doing this well, when I was at Crystal Palace.

Players don’t always do what you expect them to. At school, an opponent went to tread on my foot, which made me look down, but he slapped me around the head. I learnt from that very quickly! As Bruce Lee used to say, don’t take your eye off the opponent!

It’s really important for players not to lose their temper or get wound up. This will go on. Dele Alli could be a target. It’s easier said than done and it doesn’t mean you don’t tackle, but the mistake you make could cost your team the result.

I played for England against Morocco at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where Ray Wilkins got sent off. Ray got frustrated and threw the ball at the referee. Although Maradona got away with pushing the ball into the goal with his hand! The best way to wind up an opponent is to play better than him.

By the way – this is just for England fans, players and staff. Don’t let the opposition read this please! Enjoy the tournament. I’m looking forward to it and I’d like everyone to enjoy the challenge. KWS

(My nickname at Arsenal was Kenny White Shorts, as I never got my shorts dirty!)

Your support has been fantastic

I firstly want to say thanks for all the support from everyone, your kind words have been a fantastic help to me. I feel safe and I’ve got stability back in my life.

I’m pleased to have this official website up and the reaction has been really good. I plan to do regular blogs like this, all true, from me. I will be discussing the Euros and England’s chances. I’ve got lots of good ideas about football in general and I look forward to sharing them with you.

As you know, I was in rehab, from October to late January and I was successfully sober for some time, before some slips. I had good days and some bad days, but I’m good now. I’m in a good place.

As you’ve probably read in the press, I proposed to my girlfriend Denise. It was a fantastic day. It was in Gibraltar. I was doing some work with Mark Wright, the ex-England, Liverpool and Southampton defender and his lovely wife Sue.

Kenny and Denise in Gibraltar

Great memories in Gibraltar

It was the day after the FA Cup Final (it’s a shame the result wasn’t different!) and we celebrated with a glass of champagne. It was on top of a beautiful cruise liner, which is now a hotel. We had a small celebration, with a few friends and it was a lovely day. P.S. She did say yes!

There were 20-25 people sunbathing and they all gave us a round of applause. They were very quiet and when I proposed, they gave a big cheer. I was nervous. Playing football was the easy side, proposing was a lot harder! Going down on one knee, it was difficult to get back up!

Little bits of work are coming in and I’m keen to do more. I’m not expecting it to come in at a million miles per hour, but keeping busy is important to my well-being and looking after myself.

I was fortunate to be a guest at a Q&A dinner at Crystal Palace featuring Andy Johnson and Neil Shipperley. Both spoke very well. I was asked for loads of photos and autographs. The compere was the comedian and Palace fan Barry Williams and he paid me a lovely compliment. “When he got his first cap, it fitted him nicely. And when he got his last one, it still fitted him nicely.”

I did a gentleman’s dinner in Sunderland, with the comedian Lester Crabtree. It was nice and relaxed. There was a mixture of Sunderland and Newcastle fans. There was a bit of disagreement, but only a bit! I got some great compliments. “Your story was very true and honest.” They enjoyed what I had to say and my stories.

Football was my life, people tell me that I was a natural. My skill now is entertaining people. All my football stories are true. I want to tell people my story. In my words, it’s the good the bad and the ugly. The good is quite long, the bad is not as long, the ugly is short and to the point!

If you’d like to work with me, please just get in touch. I’m keen to appear at all sorts of events and occasions. I’m happy to do things like photo signings, football club presentations including youth clubs, special occasions, dinners, power talks, golf days, all sorts. I can tell a joke every hole – as long as it’s a good shot! It’s just a bit of fun, a day’s entertainment and I love entertaining people.

I’m feeling good about life and positive for the future. I’m looking forward to a happy life.


Me and our dog Ted!