England fluffed their lines in a dour 0-0 against a dogged USA side in their second World Cup Group B game, with Roy Keane and Gary Neville quick to suggest manager Gareth Southgate made the wrong calls with his second half substitutions.
oos greeted the final whistle as England blew their chance to qualify for the World Cup knockout phase with a match to spare in a turgid 0-0 draw with the United States.
Monday’s 6-2 thumping of Iran represented their best start to a major tournament, but Friday’s loose and lacklustre performance brought Gareth Southgate’s side back down to earth.
The US maintained their unbeaten record against England on the world stage and went close to winning Friday’s Group B clash in Al Khor, where Christian Pulisic rattled the crossbar in an ultimately scoreless encounter.
Progress to the last 16 remains in England’s hands, but this match is a wake-up call that increases the pressure heading into Tuesday’s eagerly-anticipated clash with neighbours Wales.
Both Keane and Neville argued Southgate should have brought Manchester City’s Phil Foden into the game in the second half, with the pair struggling to find silver linings in England’s performance.
“We were surprised watching it that we’d fully expect Foden to come on,” Keane told ITV Sport.
“They looked leggy, they looked one paced, from set-pieces you never felt they had a goal in their locker from that. Actually, it was a terrible performance.
England are in control of the group so the result is fine, but the performance was terrible.
“We can be here all night making excuses. They travel all over the world and are used to playing in different conditions, so you can find whatever excuse you want.
“They were playing darts last night, so we could say that was a problem if we want. No excuses.”
Keane’s former Manchester United team-mate offered up similar sentiments as he also highlighted the absence of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.
“We have a couple of talents sat on the bench in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Foden and in terms of opening up a game, you wonder if they should be on,” stated Neville. “Those two not off the bench was a little bit disappointing.
“He is worried about Alexander-Arnold defensively, but if we are not confident of playing him against USA when we need a goal… we could have had a very comfortable third game against Wales when we could have played the whole of the bench.
“We’ve not got that now which is fine, no panic here, but I think France, Spain and Brazil would have Alexander-Arnold and Foden in their team.
“I understand it a little bit having watched Trent Alexander-Arnold defend, but when we are struggling to create any chances, those two players, should they be in there.”