Snooker star hits out at Gareth Southgate's 'tragic' tactics ahead of England vs Wales

November 29, 2022
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Australian snooker star Neil Robertson has dubbed England's tactics at the 2022 World Cup "an absolute tragedy" after Gareth Southgate's side failed to beat the United States.

The Three Lions got off to a fine start in Qatar and surged to the summit of Group B with a 6-2 hammering of Iran. However, that display was quickly forgotten after Friday's deflated 0-0 draw against the United States, who could have easily come away with the three points.

Robertson's Australia, meanwhile, are in contention to advance from Group D having defeated Tunisia 1-0, the ideal response after a 4-1 demolition at the hands of titleholders France. Speaking at the Scottish Open in Edinburgh, Melbourne native Robertson couldn't fathom England's withdrawn strategy ahead of Tuesday's crunch clash with neighbours Wales.

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“It's going to be tough because Denmark have to win so they're going to come out and try [for that]," he told Eurosport. "If we could get through the last 16 that would be a great result because football's not the biggest sport in the country, it’s probably maybe fifth or something.

“We give it a good go. We got well beaten by France, but at least we had a go. We didn't sit back like Southgate does with that team, it's an absolute tragedy. That's a tragedy, that is!”

Despite the early excitement that came following their statement win over Iran, England could feasibly fail to qualify for the knockout stage in Qatar should they lose to Wales by a big enough margin. Rob Page's underdogs can end the group phase level with Southgate's side with a win, having taken just one point from their two outings thus far in Qatar.

Australian snooker star Neil Robertson has criticised Gareth Southgate's 'tragic' World Cup tactics
Australian snooker star Neil Robertson has criticised Gareth Southgate's 'tragic' World Cup tactics

The timing of Tuesday's evening session at the Scottish Open is poor given many at the tournament will be invested in the all-British World Cup clash. “The England game is on tomorrow so the boys will be gutted if they’re playing and the England game is on, and there’s quite a few Welsh players left in the event as well,” added Robertson.

Group B favourites England had three shots on target compared to the United States' one when they met, though Chelsea's Christian Pulisic came close to breaking the deadlock when he hit the woodwork. The Three Lions have one more frame to secure their place in the World Cup's last 16, but a wall of red could yet prove their undoing.

Gareth Southgate's England failed to threaten the United States much during a deflated performance
Gareth Southgate's England failed to threaten the United States much during a deflated performance

Robertson, 40, advanced into the last 64 of the Scottish Open after beating Mark Davis 4-1 on Monday. 'The Thunder from Down Under' took the Scottish crown in Glasgow in 2017 and is hoping to mount another challenge after a semi-final run at the Northern Ireland Open last month.

Reports have suggested Southgate will restore Liverpool's Jordan Henderson to his starting XI at Jude Bellingham's expense against Wales. That move would indicate the manager may be wary of Wales' threat, favouring experience ahead of Bellingham's raw talent.

Neither the Borussia Dortmund gem nor any of his team-mates could find the key to unlock the U.S. last time out, and Wales will look to put another stiff test as they eye a potential first-round exit. Robertson's Australia could advance themselves in Qatar despite possessing far fewer squad resources, with the snooker star struggling to comprehend England's timid approach.


This post appeared first on Daily Star - Snooker.

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