After an efficient opening win against Croatia last weekend, the Three Lions went into Friday night’s huge Group D showdown between old rivals as big favourites to seal another three points on home soil at Wembley and guarantee a spot in the last 16.
However, England turned in a very lethargic and disjointed display in a frustrating stalemate, with their attacking prowess leaving a lot to be desired as captain Harry Kane was substituted by manager Gareth Southgate for the second match in a row after another quiet evening.
The underwhelming performance leaves England needing to beat the Czech Republic on Tuesday night to seal top spot in the group, with the latter boasting a better goal difference after following up their 2-0 win over Scotland with a 1-1 draw against Croatia at Hampden Park earlier on Friday.
England’s surprisingly insipid display in front of an electric crowd of 22,500 supporters drew the ire of former players and pundits alike, with ex-Three Lions striker Wright saying he was “embarrassed” and criticising Southgate’s personnel decisions, particularly the choice to withdraw Phil Foden for Jack Grealish shortly after the hour mark and also leave Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho – who didn’t even make the matchday squad against Croatia – on the bench throughout.
“The substitutions confuse me. I don’t know what to think with that,” Wright said on ITV.
“What’s he take Foden off for? There is no way Phil Foden should be leaving the pitch today, for me. It’s very disappointing to see.
“You have someone like Jadon Sancho on the bench, 16 goals and 20 assists this season, and he doesn’t even get on when we need to create.
“We can talk about Harry Kane and the chances he could have had or the touches he hasn’t had, but did we really create enough? We’re meant to be favourites to win this tournament and I was embarrassed for us today.”
Ex-Scotland international Souness was proud of the visitors’ impressive display at Wembley and was not shy in his own criticism of England, insisting that “football ain’t coming home” based on the evidence of their first two Group D performances.
On Kane, he added: “Harry is England’s one player proven to get goals at this level on a regular basis. If that is not happening in this competition, you’re not going very far.
“Go back to the World Cup in Russia, his goals got you where you got to and Harry Kane not performing is a major problem for you. Football ain’t coming home with that, not the way they are playing.”