Gareth Southgate has risked ratcheting up World Cup last 16 opponents Colombia’s motivation by fielding a B team in their last group game believing that would earn them an easier route to the final, warns England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward.
England earned the right to play the Colombians on Tuesday after a 1-0 loss to Belgium last Thursday to finish runners-up in their group.
Woodward takes issue with the selection policy of Southgate — although his Belgian counterpart Roberto Martinez also made sweeping changes — but is more staggered by another facet of the thinking behind the policy.
World Cups are all about momentum “ winning your next game “ England must prepare and approach this game v Belgium as if it was a knock out match – top the group and then and only then think / talk about your next opponent – this is such an important game to keep momentum going
— Sir Clive Woodward (@CliveWoodward) June 27, 2018
“The thing I am really struggling with, though, is a much bigger point,” he wrote in the Daily Mail on Monday.
“England have hardly covered themselves in glory in tournaments over the last two decades yet they were wasting time and energy and getting distracted thinking about possible quarter-finals and semi-finals.
“Don’t even go there, just win the next match and the next after that.
“Who on earth ever thought that somehow Colombia would be the easy route, one of the best-attacking teams in world football and a side who reached the Olympic quarter-finals?
“Nobody qualifying for the World Cup last 16 gets lucky.
“The one team who will be relishing all this is Colombia —- what greater motivation than an England team believing playing them is an easier way to glory!
“I would love to be in charge of the Colombia team this week, reminding my players how England don’t respect them. The England players will know this too.”
Woodward, said there is no need to play players as Southgate did against Belgium to sew unity within the squad.
“I have been amazed how former players used unity in the squad as a reason for Southgate’s selection -— well, if this is what creates unity, we have zero chance,” said Woodward.
“Unity is simply everyone doing everything that is required of them to win the next match even if that is just carrying the water bottle.”