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.

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