World Cup column: Hoddle makes 1966 Geoff Hurst comparison with current England squad ahead of Senegal last-16 clash

Glenn Hoddle believes that England's current squad depth means fringe players could announce themselves late in the tournament, perhaps in a similar vein to Hurst's contribution on that famous day at Wembley.

By Alex Bowmer Published: 3 December 2022 - 12.16am
Geoff Hurst scores England's third goal in the 1966 World Cup final

Glenn Hoddle hopes an England player can replicate Geoff Hurst's 1966 World Cup final impact

Glenn Hoddle believes England's quality depth in attack will be massively important if they go deep into this World Cup. 

Gareth Southgate's men are into the last 16 after topping Group B in style following a 3-0 win over Wales on Tuesday.

Ahead of the Three Lions' last-16 encounter against Senegal on Sunday, Hoddle, who managed England between 1996 and 1999, cited Geoff Hurst's game-changing impact in the 1966 final as an example of how fortunes can change. 

Hurst was overlooked then as the late Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt started all three group games, only for Greaves to suffer a leg injury in the last of those matches, opening the door for Hurst to shine in the knockout phase and scoring a hat-trick which defeated West Germany 4-2 in the final at Wembley. 

Speaking exclusively to BT Sport, Hoddle said: "It was such a great win [against Wales], don’t be surprised if he doesn’t change it for the Senegal game.

"On the offensive side, [England] go very deep and they’ve got some real game-changers on the bench.

"You can bet your bottom dollar that if you go all the way into a tournament, by the time you get to the semis or the final even – the most vital games – you’re going to have somebody that’s not actually played that much that’s going to be play a big, big part.

"Take it back to ’66 when we won it. Geoff Hurst didn’t really think he had a chance with Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt [in front of him], and he ends up being the story.

"That’s a prime example of the squad that we’ve got – it goes deep. My only concern with England at the moment would be against better opposition, defensively, are they going to be good enough? They haven’t been tested thoroughly at this moment in time."

Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford did the business against Wales in place of Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka

Hoddle was impressed with the team's control of the contest against Wales in a game that saw Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford play starring roles after replace Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka in the starting XI. 

"A very mature performance. Even in the first half at 0-0, I wasn’t sitting there worried at all.

"We totally controlled it. Wales didn’t turn up to the tournament in many ways, but you can only play against who you’re playing and it was only a matter of time until we got the first goal.

"I felt against all the three teams we played, if we got the first goal, it was going to make things easier. We didn’t get it against the States and it became a bit tougher, but it was a perfect performance in the end, finishing the game really strong. 

"I’ve always wanted Foden to play. Foden’s an extremely good player. [He] could be a special player if he’s given the shirt for game after game.

"The first half he was playing in chains, keeping it simple, because he doesn’t feel quite at home like he does in a City shirt, but to be honest, he was excellent second half.

"He got the free-kick that Rashford scored, got a goal himself and that will settle him down."

On Rashford however, Hoddle wasn't as convinced, although the Manchester United forward turned on the style spectacularly after the break. 

"First half, he was playing poorly. He comes out second half, scores a wonderful free-kick, and then he’s a different human being.

"When players are playing with confidence, that’s when you’re getting the best out of them.

"If after 20 minutes [in the second half], he hadn’t been playing that well, he would have been yanked off, but that’s how delicate the line is.

"To be fair to him, once he scored that goal, his performance was excellent, just what Gareth wanted. 

Glenn Hoddle feels Harry Maguire looks more comfortable for England than Manchester United because John Stones

Rashford's position in the squad was under some scrutiny in the months heading into the tournament, as was his Manchester United team-mate Harry Maguire. 

Despite not featuring much under Erik ten Hag prior to Qatar and putting in unconvincing displays when he has been picked, Maguire looks a different beast on international duty. 

"First and foremost, Gareth’s very loyal," said Hoddle. "He’s done very well for England, Harry. He’s been excellent.

"In the limited games [he’s had] for United, he’s always nervous in those games – he’s made mistakes – whereas in this England team, he likes playing with John Stones. They’ve got a nice little partnership there.

"We had the ball most of the game against Iran. Things went ever so well, so he didn’t have to defend too much, but his use of the ball was excellent.

"I think that gave him the springboard and the confidence to go on to the next two games. He’s been one of our best players consistently.

"We are going to get tested against Senegal and if we get through, certainly France [if they beat Poland]. He couldn’t have asked for more Gareth by throwing him in there, bit of a risk, but the boy’s delivered. 

Speaking exclusively to BT Sport before the tournament, Hoddle correctly predicted that England would play with a back four, and he doesn't anticipate that changing against Senegal, although the team is adaptable enough to change set-up with and without the ball.

"With Walker, you can turn it into a three if you want or he can start as a right-back [in a four].

"Southgate has got a bit of flexibility there to go into a three in possession, similar to what Italy did actually [in the final of Euro 2020], but he’s learnt that he’s got to defend in a four because if we don’t get it right when we go into a five [having set up as a three] and we drop too deep, that’s what happened in the semi-finals [of Euro 2020] and in the final against Italy."

Kyle Walker's all-round game allows him to play as part of a back three or a back four

Hoddle also said prior to the start of proceedings in Qatar that although France and Brazil were favourites, no-one had a better chance than England in the chasing pack. Does he feel that England have now staked a claim to usurp either of those two footballing heavyweights in his pecking order?

"I don’t know," came his reply. "France and Brazil for me were favourites, but not hot favourites. If we’re going to win the World Cup, I feel we’re going to have to beat both or one of those teams.

"This won’t be an easy game, Senegal, but I think we’ll get through and then we face France probably. 

"If we beat France, then I’d say we don’t need to fear anyone. No-one has scored more than us in the tournament [and England have the tournament's best group-stage record]. 

"We’re putting a little bit of fear into other teams. There are teams looking at us thinking: “Wow, they look the best team at the moment – they must be one of the favourites.”

"We all know what’s happened sometimes when we play against top-quality teams, we get found out a little bit. That’s the next step we need to take."

“There are teams looking at us thinking: 'Wow, they look the best team at the moment - they must be one of the favourites'”
- Glenn Hoddle on England's World Cup chances

Saturday's opponents Senegal, into the knockout phase for just the second time in their history, will be no pushovers though. 

Their win over Ecuador to leapfrog the South Americans underlined their composure in the big occasion and despite missing Sadio Mane and Idrissa Gueye through injury and suspension respectively, they are greatly than the sum of their parts. 

On England's next obstacle, Hoddle said: "Mane’s a big miss, but they’ve done well to get through their group.

"They won’t be easy – they’re athletic, they’re powerful. England have always been a dangerous team from set-plays, but I think these guys will be quite a match for us [in that respect], so it will be quite interesting."

The shocks we have seen already at this tournament mean that putting your money on the favourite has left fans and pundits red-faced relatively often, but Hoddle is still confident England will prevail, although not comfortably. 

"[Upsets] have been a pattern in this World Cup. The gap is getting smaller and smaller; these smaller nations are getting much stronger and better.

"We’ve got to be a little bit vigilant about that, but also, we’re not one of the favourites ourselves to go all the way and win it. We’re part of that [outsider] pack, so it could actually work in our favour. 

"Saka might come back in, but I’d love Foden to play again. I don’t think he’ll make many changes. It depends on the fitness of a few players.

"I think the shape will be the same, a 4-3-3. It will be 2-1, 1-0. England will win, that’s my prediction." And that's all that Southgate and his Three Lions need.