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MANAGER: I'm just a huge England fan

Paul Simpson on having worked with four of the current England squad

2 December 2022

Club News

MANAGER: I'm just a huge England fan

Paul Simpson on having worked with four of the current England squad

2 December 2022

Imagine being an England fan who’d taken one of your country's professional teams to a World Cup final - and won it.

Imagine then having your own club to think about, but at the same time sitting down to watch some of the players you’d worked with ply their trade in the senior version of the competition.

Wouldn’t be too bad that, would it?

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“I don’t think I could ever be more invested in seeing England win just because I worked with some of the players, because I’m just a huge England fan,” England’s U20 World Cup winning manager from 2017 Paul Simpson insisted.

“I’m loving the fact that the cricketers are doing really well in Pakistan, and that the men’s and women’s rugby teams have done well recently.

“I want England to do well whatever sport it is, so it doesn’t matter that I might have worked with some of the lads before.”

“But, to be fair, it’s great for me to sit back and see players like Aaron Ramsdale, Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka playing out there,” he admitted.

“When I worked with them in the England set-up you could tell that every player that came to us had a chance.

“For a crop of them to take that all the way to the biggest competition there is, I suppose it’s good to know that I played a really small part in their England careers.

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“But, let’s be clear, what they’re doing now is down to them.”

And on England’s showing so far, as they prepare to face Senegal in Sunday’s knockout encounter, he told us: “I think they’ve been very good. When you’re going through a competition in international football it’s not all plain sailing.

“You can have a good performance and not get a result, or a poor performance and end up winning the game. It’s about just finding a way.

“They’ve qualified as top of the group, which is brilliant, and that would always have been the aim from the moment they touched down.

“People forget that we’ve gone into the tournament with fans and pundits looking at Iran, USA and Wales and thinking what a doddle it was going to be.

“Wales is never an easy game, but we put them to bed comfortably, particularly in the second half. The USA are one of the top FIFA ranked teams in the world, so that’s never going to be anything else other than tough. We got a good point out of that one in the end.

“We wiped the floor with Iran even though they were ranked number 20 in the world, and now we’re in the knockout stages and we just have to keep going. This is where it really matters.”

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“Gareth has been able to get a few players involved to make sure they’ve had minutes and he has a great selection headache in terms of what team to pick,” he continued. “I’m sure he’d rather have that than being in a situation where the team picks itself because he feels he’s only got 11 starters.

“I’m really looking forward to the game against Senegal at the weekend and let’s hope it’s successful for us.

“I’m also really pleased for Gareth and Steve Holland because they’re two really good people.

“When I worked at the FA they weren’t just about looking after the seniors, they were engaged in everything that the development teams were doing.

“I’m delighted for both of them and there’s a little bit of me that’s hoping, come the end of it, that Gareth can just stand – and I know he won’t do it – but just put two fingers up to everybody who has talked absolute rubbish.

“All these people who think they know in their own minds what the job is like, they haven’t got a clue. I hope Gareth has his day.”


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