'Fantastic England can get better' - Terry Butcher identifies key Gareth Southgate shift for Qatar World Cup
"It’s been very good this year, there’s no doubt about that. It’s been fantastic to watch, but I think it can get better and I think it will get better," former England captain Butcher told Eurosport. "Looking forward to the World Cup, it is exciting what we have got, but we have to really utilise that and say, ‘go on and play, enjoy it, play further forward.'"
'They should hold their heads high' - Southgate immensely proud of players despite defeat
For all the disappointment in losing the final, Butcher, who has 77 senior England caps to his name, believes the team can get even better by employing a slightly more attacking approach, and that exciting times lie ahead.
"I felt it was an opportunity that was wasted, I really did," Butcher told Eurosport. "It’s not saying anything about the players and the way they got to the final and the management, it just didn’t happen for us in the final. We got a great start, probably the best start you could think about having, and then it didn’t happen after that.
"No matter what Gareth tried to do, it just didn’t work. For the first time in the tournament, a lot of things didn’t seem to work, and it just didn’t happen. Whereas the Italians, everything they did or tried to do, it did work. They deserved to win, there is no doubt about that.
"There was such a small gap and nothing to choose between the teams in terms of ability, I felt. But it was just not to be our day."
Looking ahead, Butcher continued: "We’ve got quite a bit of time with the qualifiers at the end of the year, in September, October and November. Then it is preparation time after that.
"England have to get a style of play that is going to suit the players that they have, and it’s going to be more exciting and dynamic than what we’ve had so far.
WATCH - Triumphant Italy return home with trophy
"It’s been very good this year, there’s no doubt about that. It’s been fantastic to watch, but I think it can get better and I think it will get better, given the fact that Gareth will say, ‘hang on a minute, I don’t need two players in front of my back four, because they are strong enough.' Because strong centre halves don’t need as much protection and if you have got experienced players there at the heart of it, you don’t need two players, so I think there is a lot more to come from England, attacking wise.
"Looking forward to the World Cup, it is exciting what we have got, but we have to really utilise that and say, ‘go on and play, enjoy it, play further forward.' Then if we need to pull players back, we can pull them back, but I think there is a lot more excitement, flair, talent in our front players especially.
"We’ve got fantastic players up the pitch, they are all young, and going forward there is a lot of excitement there. Gareth will have learned a lot from what he probably didn’t do in the final – what he should do and what he can do – and I’m very excited by that prospect."
Bryan Robson, Trevor Francis, Graham Rix, Steve Coppell, Terry Butcher, Ray Wilkins, Paul Mariner, Phil Thompson, Kenny Sansom, Peter Shilton and captain Mick Mills
Image credit: Getty Images
"It’s bitterly disappointing and sad because he was such a wonderful person as well as a wonderful player," he said. "He was one of the best strikers I ever played with and he was a great team-mate, one of the family. You could pass the ball up to him, drive the ball up to him, and he could take a touch and hold it down and lay it off.
"He was also phenomenal in the air. I saw him score countless headers, even though he wasn’t particularly big. But he had a great leap and great physical strength. He was absolutely as hard as nails – you talk about hard, tough players, he took the knocks and hits. He’d pick himself up, dust himself down. He was a target for defenders – a big leader for us and just a dream to be with.
"He was funny and he would keep you on your toes. He was loud, really loud! He used to shout and you knew he was there. You heard him before he came round the corner."
- - -
Former England captain and mental health advocate, Butcher, is backing a campaign to support people suffering from social anxiety.
Following a study which found that one in five Brits are feeling anxious about socialising again as the country’s remaining lockdown restrictions are set to be lifted, Well Pharmacy will provide Comfort Zones in every one of their 750 branches around the country. Indeed, the study found that more than a third of those surveyed said they were only leaving the house once a week. From Monday the 19th July, these dedicated areas will be made available in Well Pharmacy consultation rooms for anyone feeling overwhelmed by the return of social contact. Anxiety sufferers will have an opportunity to get away from crowds, contact a support service, or talk to a friend or family member.
Butcher, who captained the England team at the 1990 World Cup, is passionate about supporting people with mental health problems, having tragically lost his son, Christopher – who suffered from severe PTSD - in 2017. Terry’s experience of living with mental health issues means he is acutely aware of the challenges facing people who have spent the last 18 months following government guidelines to stay at home and now have anxiety about leaving the house.
To complement the Comfort Zone scheme, Well Pharmacy is providing additional support to elderly and vulnerable patients who receive their prescriptions via their free home delivery service, offering information on how to overcome social anxiety, contact details for support services and advice about shopping, going to medical appointments and seeing friends and family.