Former Arsenal and Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas has picked out who believes to be England’s “secret weapon” at this summer’s European Championships.
England are now in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020. They got there by beating Germany 2-0 at Wembley in the Round of 16.
Gareth Southgate and his players have been praised for England’s performances so far. But Fabregas has hailed Southgate’s assistant, Steve Holland.
The 51-year-old is an esteemed coach and he worked with Fabregas at Chelsea. He was the Londoners’ assistant between 2011 and 2017.
During that time, he has also been part of the England set-up. He was Southgate’s assistant for the U21s and he remains in that role with him for the senior side.
In his column for The Telegraph, Fabregas has claimed that Holland is “one of the very best” assistant managers in football:
“Steve Holland’s meticulous coaching brain is England’s secret weapon.
“Assistant managers can be undervalued when it comes to handing out praise to people for the performances and results of a team, but, in Steve Holland, England have one of the very best.
“Steve and I worked together for three years and won two Premier League titles together at Chelsea, and I can tell you that he was very important to our success.
“I am not surprised at all that Gareth Southgate thinks so highly of Steve because it was the same at Chelsea, when he worked as the assistant to Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink and Antonio Conte while I was a player there.
“Steve also became the caretaker manager for a game between Mourinho and Hiddink, and he had the respect of the dressing room which was full of international players and some big personalities.
“The game he was in charge of was against Sunderland and I remember there were some Chelsea fans who were upset about Mourinho’s sacking, but Steve defended the players afterwards and helped to bring some stability at a very unsettling time.”
Fabregas added that Holland’s personality will help him in his role with England:
He continued: “Steve is a positive guy, who is calm and friendly. He will listen to you and talk a lot of sense, but I think the thing that makes players really respect Steve is he is not the kind of assistant who will just listen to the manager and do whatever he says. Steve has his own personality and his own opinion, and that is really important.
“You could see that he had managed to get across his opinion and some of his ideas with the England national team at the last World Cup in 2018, when the back three they played reminded me a lot of what we had been doing under Conte at Chelsea.
“I don’t know for sure that Steve had taken the idea from Chelsea, but if he did England executed it well and you can see that, like Mourinho and Conte, he and Southgate really value the importance of defending well as a team and keeping clean sheets.”