Harry Redknapp has admitted that this England side are yet to be tested ahead of their crucial World Cup semi-final against Croatia in the Luzhniki Stadium tonight.
Speaking at the launch of the AIB’s ‘The Toughest Rivalry”, Redknapp outlined how good a job current manager Gareth Southgate has done, however, he was keen to point out that this England side are yet to be tested.
“Gareth’s done a great job and we’ve beat what we’ve had to play. It’s always a happy camp when you’re winning, he couldn’t have done anymore than what he’s done and he’s a great guy.
I’m probably more pleased with him because he’s a really nice fella. He’s got the best out of the group so far, but we haven’t had massive tests of yet. Tonight will be a bigger test than we’ve had so far.”
England will go into tonight’s game full of confidence after beating Sweden by two goals to nil in their quarter-final, another victory in what many had labeled the easier side of the draw.
Redknapp admits that he didn’t expect this side to get to the last four but that the favourable bracket has certainly been a huge help to Southgate’s men.
“No, I didn’t see us going that far. I was sure we’d come out of the group, that was a certainty. But then it was the luck of the draw. The big game was the Belgium game.
I think getting the result against Belgium at the end of the day was a great result for us, because it put us in the half of the group that was in the much better group to be in than the other half. Belgium ended up with Brazil and France. In the long term, it’s turned out to be the right result for us.”
They’re going to control the game. We’re not set up really unless we change. Lingard and Delle Alli are not going to be players that are defensive-minded to worry about. They’re going to have to get around Rakitic and Modric when we haven’t got the ball — they’re going to have to do that side of it.
Henderson can’t just do it on his own in there. He’s going to need [help]. That’s going to be important, so when we have the ball. They’re defensive qualities wouldn’t be so great either. We can cause them problems. Dele Alli I think is an amazing talent. He hasn’t shown his best form in the World Cup so far, but I think he’s an amazing player. I know he scored last game, but there’s a big game waiting for him, it could be tonight.
Redknapp who has managed a host of Premier League clubs, had once been touted as the next England manager in 2012 but lost out on the position to Roy Hodgson.
When asked the eternal question of “is football coming home?” Redknapp was optimistic, praising the strengh of the England squad but admitting that tonight’s game would be “tough.”
“There’s every chance [England can win the World Cup]. I think we’re going to make the final and anything can happen then, it’s a toss-up. Tonight will be tough, but I think we’ll get through. If it goes to extra-time we’ll be stronger than them. They’ll run out of legs a bit. They’ve had extra-times and we’ll be maybe a bit fresher than them.
And we’ve a bit of a stronger squad, we can bring subs on that are stronger than theirs.”
Redknapp was speaking at the launch of AIB’s ‘The Toughest Rivalry’ which sees him take over Cork club, Castlehaven as they go up against Erin’s Isle of Dublin, managed by former Premier League manager and player, Gianluca Vialli.
The first episode of the eight part mini-series, ‘The Toughest Rivalry’ will air on Friday, July 13th, exclusively on AIB’s social channels.