Jose Mourinho slammed England for being afraid and said the hosts were just “set up not to lose” in their 0-0 draw with Scotland at Wembley.
Gareth Southgate played the same team that beat Croatia 1-0, except with new full-backs in Reece James and Luke Shaw. However Mourinho said the team had no desire to win – and claimed that keeping midfielder Kalvin Phillips on showed England were happy with a point.
“I didn’t see any risk or desire from England to gamble and try and win,” Mourinho toldtalkSPORT.
“If England needed to beat Scotland then I think Phillips would have been subbed around the 60th minute for more creativity. But a fear of losing kept him on the pitch.
“The pragmatism of the result and qualification [from the group] showed itself clearly from minute 70 to 75; that it was more important than the emotion of the game or the desire to win against a historical rival.”
Mourinho also said England’s full-backs weren’t as aggressive as you’d usually expect, adding: “I didn’t see any crosses from them, I didn’t see any progression, I didn’t see any overlapping… I think they should give a little bit more.”
“If England needed to win this match, Phillips would be out on minute 60.”
“The fear of losing it kept them on.”
José Mourinho says England’s team was set up not to lose against Scotland. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/iqliNOaWqC
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) June 18, 2021
In fairness to Phillips, he was one of England’s best attacking weapons against Croatia in a more advanced role.
However he did not have the same impact against Scotland in a match where the hosts hit the post early – via John Stones’ header – but otherwise failed to create clear-cut chances as Jordan Pickford was the busier of the two goalkeepers.
Mourinho, however, is one of the game’s great pragmatists. So rather than burying Southgate’s side for a lack of ambition, the ex-Chelsea manager could just simply be explaining that England may not have viewed a draw as a disastrous result as four points from two games could be enough to qualify (and with England playing the Czech Republic next).
Mourinho absolutely on the money here, quite obvious southgates worried about finishing top & coming up against France/Portugal https://t.co/ikz9zq34mE
— James (@JBaker_24) June 19, 2021
I thought the days of playing with fear were supposed to be behind us? Clearly not so last night. Sadly, it seems the DNA of #ENG teams cannot be changed 🙁 https://t.co/54qvzGsUiW
— Steven Phillips (@stevenphillips7) June 19, 2021
Jose bang on Kane’s service should come from Shaw and Reece James. 4 points is ok but for me it’s about work all week and I want to be entertained. I want to c players be creative I want to c the spirit of euro96, I want to c a team make me feel that there’s hope we can win it https://t.co/7drKcZXi5J
— Nick wood (@NickLiamwood) June 19, 2021
However the Portuguese was quick to praise the Scotland manager’s decisions and the attitude shown by his players.
“Steve Clarke organised the game tactically very well, but more important than that was their spirit,” said Mourinho. “They came not just for a football match, they were coming for a football match against England at Wembley.
“They were united and ready to fight, but confident enough to play. They go home as heroes and the door is still open for them to qualify against Croatia, who are not showing a huge threat.”
All imagery: PA Images