Football

Butcher: England have no characters or leaders

Former England star laments the quality and attitude of the current team

GROUP F

ENGLAND v SCOTLAND
(Saturday, 3.35am, Singtel TV Ch 109 - Eleven)

Terry Butcher has launched a scathing attack on England, lambasting the Three Lions' top stars for "playing like they've got their headphones on".

Former England captain Butcher fears Scotland could pull off an upset victory at Wembley in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday morning (Singapore time).

The 77-cap former Ipswich Town and Rangers defender believes the fear of failure still cripples England, but insisted Gareth Southgate's players must shoulder far greater leadership responsibilities.

A blood-soaked Butcher famously played through a head wound in England's vital World Cup qualifying goalless draw in Sweden in 1989, but now laments the lack of strong characters in the national side's ranks.

"The players have got to take the responsibility with England now, they have got to really want it," said Butcher.

"With England it's always 'someone's going to do it, someone's going to come up trumps', but no one does.

"Bryan Robson used to lead by example, but he also used to stir people up and have a word. If he had a word with you, you didn't want it again.

"That doesn't happen now. The players are not vocal, they're not demonstrative.

"They play like they've got their headphones on.

"You think, 'What music are they listening to?' They're listening to the wrong track.

"They're not on the same beat."

PURGATORY

Butcher branded England matches as "purgatory" for spectators, and said interim manager Southgate must produce results to be considered worthy of permanent appointment.

Sam Allardyce's departure after a Daily Telegraph investigation into corruption having managed just one game leaves Southgate holding England's fort while the FA plans for a replacement behind the scenes.

England could land a hammer blow to Scotland's chances of World Cup qualification with victory on Saturday.

Butcher admitted that in his heyday England would have relished such an opportunity, but now the 57-year-old questioned whether the old rivalry still stokes the fires among the current crop.

"If that was us we would have taken great joy in effectively ending Scotland's qualification chances," said Butcher. "But I don't know if the players think like that any more.

"So from Scotland's point of view, there's no better time to come and play England. They've got nothing to lose in a way.

"With England you've got to win but you've also got to play well.

"Nil-nil in Slovenia is not acceptable from an England viewpoint.

"When Sam was there they scraped a 1-0 win against Slovakia even though they were down to 10 men, so the England team are hardly firing on any cylinders at the moment.

"It's purgatory watching England, it really is. When you watch England it's groundhog day.

"The jersey's like a straitjacket for the players.

"On paper they are excellent players. In their own right, those players could play for any Premier League team, no problem.

"But when you put them together for England it just misfires.

"In days gone by you would have had leaders on the pitch that would push players - Stuart Pearce, Tony Adams.

"You did it as much for them as you did for the fans, because you wanted to please the senior players.

"But there's not many senior players in the England team now. There are not many characters or leaders.

"And that's where the younger players then think what they are doing is fine, but it's not."

Will England prove Butcher wrong?

- PA Sport.

There's nothing the lads can do about Gareth's (Southgate) position. He's been fantastic but we have to focus on what we can, and if we play well and get a good result, I'm sure that can only help.

— England defender Michael Keane

Bloodied and bruised Butcher

A blood-soaked Terry Butcher (top) famously played through a head wound in England's crucial World Cup qualifying goalless draw in Sweden in 1989, but now laments the lack of strong characters in the national ranks.

In fairness, had he been playing today, he would not have been allowed to carry on playing looking like that until he was properly patched up due to the current rules governing injuries.

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