Declan Rice has defended Gareth Southgate’s tactical approach with England and admits he would favour two defensive midfield options.
Southgate has received criticism for a pragmatic playing style despite England’s abundance of attacking options, with frustration from some sections of fans at the manager’s preference for two holding players in midfield.
Rice has been a regular in a defensive midfield role during Southgate’s tenure and admits he understands the reasons behind the manager’s desire for increased protection.
“I understand Gareth, how he works, wanting two holding midfield players,” Rice said, as per the Telegraph.
“I know the public wants to see so much attacking flair, but as a manager I’d be the same in terms of wanting that security and protection, whether it is me or someone else who can get forward as well. The balance has been really good over the last few years.
“It is a tough one because like I said, because of the attacking players we have in the squad, everyone wants to see them on the pitch, but I know how managers think and I can totally understand the manager wanting to play two pivots.”
Rice believes he has the capabilities to operate in a more advanced role, having been used as a box-to-box presence at former club West Ham. The 24-year-old has been used as a specialist holder since signing for Arsenal last summer and has opened up on the differing roles.
“There’s a lot of talk over whether I can play higher up the pitch as well. I’m kind of new to it in a way. The role I had at West Ham when I was more of a ‘box-to-box’ (midfielder), David Moyes used to say to me, ‘Free roam, do what you need to do to get on the ball’.
“At Arsenal, it’s more structured and you’ve got to be more patient and waiting for the ball to come, moving the ball a bit quicker, getting on the ball a lot more. At Arsenal, we probably see a lot more of the ball so it’s about being a bit more aggressive.”
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