Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick has spoken exclusively to CaughtOffside to discuss England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy on Sunday.
The Three Lions reached their first final since all the way back in 1966, but couldn’t end their long wait to win a trophy as Italy defeated them in a penalty shoot-out after it finished 1-1 after extra time.
Luke Shaw scored early for England and Chadwick heaped praise on the Red Devils ace for a generally strong tournament, though he admits he feels that Gareth Southgate’s side might have scored too early as it made them too cautious for much of the rest of the game, handing the momentum to Italy.
“Obviously it was a huge disappointment to get beaten on penalties. We couldn’t have got off to a better start, a fantastic goal from Luke Shaw. I felt, as the game went on, that maybe we scored a bit too early,” Chadwick said.
“After the euphoria of scoring that early goal, we never really got going after that. Against Denmark we got stronger as we went along and obviously the players who were brought on had a great impact. But on Sunday Italy really grew into the game, and in the second half and then in extra time they were the ones in the ascendancy.
“Italy were probably the best team in the tournament. Penalties are a bit of a lottery, and there’s no worse way of losing a final really. On the positive side, the togetherness of the squad, as well as their ability and age, does give you hope and excitement for the future.
“It was brilliant to see England in a major final, I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime! It was a wonderful few weeks, but just those last few kicks brought a lot of disappointment, though as I say there are plenty of positives moving forward.
“There’s always lessons to be learned. I think Southgate is a master of learning lessons, as we’ve seen with the improvement England have made. To take the lead early, you’d expect England to push on. It’s easy to say that after scoring early we should’ve attacked and attacked, but I think it’s human nature when you’ve got a lead to protect what you’ve got.
“They maybe didn’t have that experience that they needed, but they’ve got it now, so maybe at the next World Cup we can go one step further and lift the trophy, which would be incredible.”
Chadwick also defended Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane after they struggled to maintain the fine form they’d shown for so much of the tournament, insisting that it was most likely the cautious approach of England in general that let those two down.
“Obviously credit has to go to Italy, they defended brilliantly throughout the whole tournament,” Chadwick said. I don’t think it just comes down to Kane and Sterling, though obviously we could’ve done more to get them into positions to hurt Italy.
“I think again it comes down to Shaw’s goal after two minutes making everyone step back a little bit. I thought Kane’s hold-up play was brilliant, some of his passing was great and he had a role in the goal.
“Attacking-wise, no one was really at their very best, it was a bit of a cagey affair as finals often are. Italy were more expressive and expansive in their play, partly because they had to be after going a goal down.
“It would be wrong to put the blame at the feet of Kane and Sterling, all the creative players didn’t really perform as they would’ve wanted to. I think a team can score too early, even if you wouldn’t exactly want to take it away when it does happen!”
Continuing to praise Man Utd left-back Shaw, Chadwick added: “I think Shaw’s form can give him huge confidence, he continued his superb club form in the tournament. He can hopefully keep on taking that into his football at United.
“He’s in a brilliant place, everyone’s singing his praises. Outside of Man United, some people were thinking about who would be the left-back, with Chilwell and Trippier also there as options, but he’s made himself the clear first choice. And what a feeling it must’ve been for him to score in the final in front of 60,000 fans.
“He’s riding the crest of a wave. Players thrive off confidence and I don’t think there’ll be anyone more confident going into the new season.”