Sam Allardyce has offered some advice to Gareth Southgate on how to get England performing better at major tournaments.
Allardyce was named England manager in July 2016 but left the role after only one game in charge because of allegations he discussed how to circumvent rules on player transfers while speaking to undercover Daily Telegraph reporters.
The 62-year-old spent only 67 days as England boss, not getting the chance to oversee a major tournament campaign, but with the team on the brink of qualification to the World Cup in Russia next summer, he thinks Southgate’s players have to become mentally stronger to cope with the pressures involved.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, Allardyce said: “My first aim was to get to the tournament but once there my first question would have been about how we cope with the deficiencies in the team on the mental side of things.
“For me, the ability to cope with the pressure of being at a major tournament was all in the mind – that was the key element for me.
“I would have gone about trying fixing that in many different ways. One would have been to use sport science, like I have done throughout my career, and try to get the focus right.
“We need to get the players into a really good frame of mind and get them performing like they do at club level or how they have done in qualifying,” he added.
“The team seems to do exceptionally well in qualifying for tournaments but at tournaments, the longer it goes on the more pressure the players have to deal with.
“They’ve got to get mentally strong enough to cope and deliver under that pressure.”
Allardyce also revealed he would have looked into how England’s players relaxed away from games at a major tournament.
“The games look after themselves,” he said. “What is done in between the games is something you’d have to be very brave with as a manager.
“Forget what the press might think and go shopping and go and have your own time. Don’t be bogged down and enclosed all together in the same space day in, day out.
“Don’t be getting bored because boredom creates mental negativity which can make you feel lethargic whereas if you’ve used your time well and enjoyed doing something different it helps.
“Everybody thinks you’ve got to train all the time but after the players have had Champions League games, FA Cup games, League Cup games and Premier League games, what are you going to do to rest them and get them ready for the tournament? That’s another big question for me.”
And Allardyce even suggested a few beers may not be a bad thing for England, using the example of Wales at Euro 2016, who he said enjoyed their down time in France.
“In the old days they’d go out and have a few pints,” Allardyce said. “Brian Clough won the European Cup and told his players to have a few beers.
“Clough is the greatest manager we’ve seen in this country but what would happen if he did that now? He’d be hounded out.
“Not all the players want a beer and not all of the players drink but it’s important they do something to relax and not be intense.”
“I know for a fact, through speaking to Martyn Margetson and Ryland Morgans, who are both with Wales, that’s what they did with their downtime at Euro 2016. They enjoyed their downtime and the momentum for them grew and they ended up with a semi-final.”