Paul Ince Exclusive


What are your initial thoughts on the defeat to France?

I'm very, very disappointed and frustrated. You could always see us getting through the group stages and we always knew France would be the biggest challenge so it was a major chance for England [to go far in the World Cup]. 

France are a very good team but I always felt that England had enough in their squad to take care of them. We knew Mbappe was the danger man and England nullified him very, very well. 

I could always see England getting a goal after France scored so early, England had a few very good chances and should've had a penalty earlier for the foul on Harry Kane - I can't believe how they didn't give that. 

Games as big as this are all about momentum and when you have it, you have to take your chances. You have to feel for Harry because those moments don't leave you.

I missed one against Argentina in '98 and they don't leave you so I have to feel for Harry Kane because he's been exceptional for England and Tottenham. He has to move on now though because he's got a job to do for Tottenham.


Is Gareth Southgate still the right man to lead England forward?

Gareth Southgate is still the right man for England. Critics have always said that with the talent England has, like Phil Foden, they should be more forceful in attack and last night they were.

Yes, there are times when you look at the situation over the last few years and say we should have won a trophy now but the team here will grow. There's a nice blend of youth and experience.

I don't think there's anyone out there that can do better than the job Gareth Southgate has done since he arrived.

You look at nations like Spain and Brazil who get rid of their managers every time they get knocked out of a tournament and I'd hate to see Southgate do that. He's in charge for the next Euros which is important and he can build again. 

This team will get better. When I played for England, we had a Man United table, an Arsenal table and a Liverpool table so there was never any togetherness until Terry Venables came in - where I would be sat at an Arsenal table with Ian Wright and Tony Adams.

Back when I was playing, we had players that didn't want to play for the national team, now everyone wants to be in the squad - that's something Gareth and Steve Holland have created.

I'm positive about the future of England as long as Southgate is the manager.


Do you think the penalty miss will affect Harry Kane's club form?

Everyone knows he's hurting inside and there will always be criticism when he goes back to Tottenham but he'll take it on his shoulders. I think he's mentally very strong so it won't affect him, he'll have all the support he needs around him and he's going back to a Spurs team who are challenging for the Champions League.

It wouldn't surprise me if he scores a hattrick on his return to the Premier League.


Is Jude Bellingham a future England captain?

I think Jude Bellingham is a future England captain. There are a couple in this team who could be. Declan Rice could also be a future England captain.

Harry Kane isn't finished at all on the international scene but when you look at Bellingham, I was a bit surprised when he got the move from Birmingham to Borussia Dortmund but since then he's been a revelation.

Moving abroad at such a young age matures you and that's what's happened with Jude. I went to Inter Milan at 28 years old, which is quite old for a footballer to move abroad, but it matured me and I came back a better player. We're seeing that with Bellingham, he's come back as a man and is definitely one for the future, alongside Rice and Kalvin Phillips.


When you watch Bellingham, do you wish you played alongside him?

I think it's more likely that he wishes he played alongside me! 

It's early doors yet and he hasn't yet played in the Premier League so he's got a long way before he is at the level of the players I played with.

Paul Gascoigne is one of, if not the best player I ever played with and It's a long time before Jude Bellingham gets to that level but the potential is definitely there to do that. 

There will be a lot of clubs after Jude but he has to be careful because you look at Jadon Sancho coming from Dortmund and he's struggled a bit at Old Trafford. It's about timing.

Sancho moved to the biggest club in the country and he's struggling so Bellingham needs to sit down with his people and decide what he's going to do. There's no rush for him to play in the Premier League. 


Do you think now is the right time for Declan Rice to move on from West Ham?

It's a tough one for Declan Rice because he wants to play in the Champions League and someone of his calibre doesn't want to be struggling at the bottom of the Premier League.

Everyone has aspirations to play at the top, I was at West Ham as a kid, I wanted to play at the top and I ended up at Manchester United.

Ideally, West Ham fans want to see him at the club for the rest of his career but realistically they have to understand he wants to better himself and it's just a case of when that will happen.

Everyone is talking about Man City but they've got Kalvin Phillips, Liverpool are a possible choice but he could even go abroad - he's that good.


What have you made of the criticism Mason Mount has recently come under?

When playing for England, there will always one or two players that get criticised, the same thing happened to Raheem Sterling recently.

Mount has been fantastic for England but his form for Chelsea hasn't been how it should be. Mount will know he went to the World Cup out-of-form and I think the disappointing thing is seeing someone like James Maddison not play a minute. 

Southgate would've known that Mount has served him well before and that he trusts Mount, managers do think like that which is why those players get picked before the likes of Maddison.


Being a manager yourself, what would you have done differently last night?

I'll never tell Gareth what to do, but I thought Saka should've stayed on and bringing Grealish on for two minutes is tough to take.

Even Raheem Sterling, he's had the trauma of what's happened to him at home, I don't know if he was actually ready to play. 

I would've subbed on a striker last night, that's what I would've done differently because Callum Wilson is flying at Newcastle. We know he can score and we should've added him into the game instead more midfielders. 

I'm inspired by England's performance at the World Cup, I think the future is bright and hopefully, Southgate and Steve Holland will be a part of that.


Given they are good friends and club teammates, was it wrong to let Kane take two penalties against Lloris?

Maybe there was some doubt in Harry Kane's mind about the second penalty but he was the right man to take it and as he will say himself, it was just a poor penalty and he has to move on from it.


What have you made of Michael Beale's switch to Rangers?

Michael Beale is a lovely fella and a very good young coach. I understand why QPR fans feel disrespected but maybe it was a job that can't turn down. 

There's going to be a lot of pressure for Michael because they're competing with a very good Celtic team at the moment and he'll know what will happen if he doesn't hit the ground running. 

Michael has a very tough job ahead of him so I hope he gets time and money to spend to show what he can do.

I can't believe Michael turned down a Premier League job, I would never do that but I'm sure he's capable of being successful at Rangers and I wish him all the luck in the world. 


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