New manager Sam Allardyce said the days of talking about England’s potential were over and it had to become reality as he looked ahead to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
Holding his first news conference since being named as Roy Hodgson’s successor, Allardyce said he “fits the chair” and can turn around the country’s fortunes after a torrid Euro 2016 exit.
England’s youthful squad arrived in France with high hopes after a faultless qualifying campaign but bowed out to Iceland in the last 16 last month.
“The most important thing is we qualify (for the World Cup), then we can go into more in depth levels as to how we can produce better results in a tournament,” Allardyce, 61, said on Monday.
“It’s not potential any more, it’s got to be reality now. We have to stand up and be counted.
“These young players have had a lot of experience now, even though some of those experiences have been pretty bitter. But that could be a great help in making sure they don’t feel like that again,” said Allardyce.
“Potential is a word I don’t like to use too much because this is the England first team and you want the players to be producing top quality in every single game. This squad going forward will be producing more and producing better results.”
Allardyce has a reputation for turning around struggling clubs but has never won any domestic silverware.
However, he rejected suggestions his style relied on playing route one football, highlighting his work at Sunderland last season when he saved them from relegation.
“Style of play has always been a tag for me I can’t shake,” said Allardyce, overlooked by England 10 years ago in favour of Steve McClaren.
“Last year I played with Jermain Defoe down the middle on his own … so the style of play associated with me can’t really be associated with me,” he said of the 5-foot-7 (1.7-metre) striker.
“People across the board said Jermain Defoe couldn’t play up front on his own, but what did he do?, he played up front on his own and scored 15 goals in the Premier League.
“Whatever people tell me, it doesn’t stop me trying something else.”
Allardyce said man-management was his main attribute.
“I’ve managed some world class players. I think I have got the experience to challenge this England team and myself. I think I can create a good environment,” the former defender said.
“Five Premier League clubs has given me a huge amount of experience, nobody in the Premier League has managed five Premier League clubs.
“Man management is my biggest asset, to help players enjoy themselves and be better than they already are. It worked everywhere else I’ve been.”
Allardyce extolled his expertise in turning around clubs quickly but said he did not think England were at “rock bottom”.
“I took West Ham up, I saved Blackburn Rovers and now Sunderland but I consider myself much more than that personally,” he said. “I can turn things round quickly and get among teams and staff and try to create a successful journey.”
“What we all want is a successful England team and that will be the biggest challenge in my long career.”