Paul Ince believes England lack character
In an interview with the Evening Standard, former England player Paul Ince has described the current crop of players as ‘weak’, especially by comparison to his Euro 96 side.
Ince played alongside charismatic figures like Paul Gascoigne, Stuart Pearce and Tony Adams in the tournament held on home soil, a side that made it all the way to the semi-finals, the last England team to go as far in any international competition.
And with England set to kick off their Euro 2016 campaign tonight against Russia, Ince has spoken about the lack of character and experience in the current England squad, describing them as a ‘little bit weak’.
Ince played alonside the likes of Tony Adams for England
“We had established people in our team, players at top clubs who were starting week in, week out. Nowadays you can be a ‘great player’ after one good season in the Premier League. In our time all the players, [captain Tony] Adams, [Stuart] Pearce, [Alan] Shearer, [Teddy]Sheringham, they’d been doing that year after year after year.
“We had a team full of men. Character. Presence. Everything you need to go and win a tournament.”
A year and a half after their Euro 96 heroics, Paul Ince, as captain, took England to Italy where a draw was required to secure qualification to the World Cup, and the former Manchester United man believes the current team wouldn’t come close to repeating such a feat.
Paul Ince playing against Italy in 1998
“To go to Rome and manage the game, we weren’t playing for a 0-0 but we’d have taken it, took an awful lot. We had the required ability, the right personnel, to go and get a result under so much pressure.
“I don’t think they’ve got that personality, those characters. This tournament will be a learning curve for them but defensively they look a bit weak.”
England will kick off their campaign in Group B against Leonid Slutsky’s Russia later on tonight in Marseille.
The Russians began qualification for the tournament under former England boss Fabio Capello, however after a series of poor performances that saw two wins from their opening six games off the back of a dismal world cup in Brazil, Capello found himself on the job market once again.
Former England manager Capello was sacked as Russia's manager
However, the Italian, who was contracted to take Russia into their World Cup in 2018, still received upwards of £11 million in compensation.
Under former CSKA boss Slutsky, Russia have gone some way to eradicating the memories of the Capello era, and England will need to be at their best if they hope to get a positive result in their opening fixture.