(Reuters) - England’s young squad must be protected from persistent media and fan pressure if they are to achieve long-term success, former Arsenal and France midfielder Patrick Vieira has said ahead of this month’s World Cup finals.
British media has been criticised in the past for their coverage of England players.
“(Harry) Kane, (Raheem) Sterling, Dele Alli, (Eric) Dier, all young and talented so you have the pieces to work well. You have a coach who cares greatly,” Vieira told The Times.
“Now as a first step it is about showing that they can thrive in the shirt, protecting them a little. Maybe everyone has a part to play in that — not just the coaches but the fans, the media. They are so exposed.
“So much focus in England about what the player’s wife does. I think they need to be protected from negative pressure and then they can start to show what they have.”
The 41-year-old, who is currently the head coach of New York City FC, also praised Gareth Southgate, calling the England manager intelligent and humble.
Vieira, a World Cup winner with France in 1998, also outlined the importance of unity within the squad if they are to succeed in major international tournaments.
“For any international squad, it is about thinking about the team more than they think about themselves,” Vieira added.
“If you want to go far in any tournament, you will have difficult periods... That is when you find the strength of the group, the respect for each other which you need.”
England open their World Cup campaign against Tunisia on June 18 with Panama and Belgium being the other teams in their group.
Reporting By Arnab Paul in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly