England at the World Cup: what can we expect from the Southgate squad? | England
IIt was easy to see Wembley’s 1-1 draw against Hungary in October as a turning point – or, at least, the moment when Gareth Southgate seemed more convinced than ever about how to put his squad together, when he could. feel the clarity, a faith in his instincts. He had chosen the team most fans wanted to see – two progressive No 8s in a 4-3-3 (Phil Foden and Mason Mount) – and England were poor. In the end, Southgate was back to 3-4-3 with two bolts in the center midfield and he doubled the approach in this month’s games, using it from the start against Albania and even Saint -Marine.
This has rekindled the discussion as to whether Southgate risks wasting the attack riches at his disposal, but for him it is no fancy; it never has been. It is about stability and balance as well as the ability to turn the dial in a progressive direction when necessary. Expect these adjustments against weaker opposition – Bukayo Saka at left-back, for example; Foden or Mount in the central midfield. But can he win the biggest games? Southgate is convinced he can, with the fundamental backs. The talent is certainly there while the experience and ultimate pain of Euro 2020 will be of great use to England. The excitement is palpable. DH
Gareth’s core values mean double bolt is a certainty
The 1-1 journey with Hungary to 5-0 against Albania has surely settled the way England are going to play. Gareth Southgate took a bet in September, removing his trusty round helmet and sending England to a 4-3-3. It was sort of Angry England’s selection XI on Twitter, with all the fun players on the pitch at the same time. Except it wasn’t really fun. England was less, not more at ease. The control Southgate sought was not there. And so for Albania we went back to Core Gareth Values as England fielded a full five plus the double bolt central midfielder. Attack was also the default option, Harry and Raheem +1, in this case Phil Foden.
And that’s surely all from here. England don’t have many games left before Qatar 2022. The Pickford-Maguire-Rice-Kane spine seems secure. England will play 3-4-3, with Reece James and Ben Chilwell the sure picks as wingers. And why not? Objections to Southgate’s accomplishments tend to be based on personal animosity, politics, or delusion. The players are good, if not obvious world beaters, but England have enjoyed a unique period of modern success. Southgate’s behavior and methods are the key ingredients. Gareth does Gareth. This is the course. He will hold out. BR
Greenwood could be a replacement for Kane
England have become more technically competent under Southgate, but they still need to be smarter against the better opponents. Ball retention remains an issue and Southgate explored ways to improve their midfield during qualifying, although the unruly display in the 1-1 draw against Hungary last month was a reminder that playing all the best attacking players is not necessarily the recipe for success. England didn’t press well after leaving Declan Rice alone in the defensive midfield, with Mason Mount and Phil Foden as No.8. The lack of structure alarmed Southgate and he responded by dropping 4-3- 3 to 3-4-3 against Albania last week.
A fullback three can work with good players. Ben Chilwell and Reece James are excellent attacking full-backs and Albania was blown away in the first half. The worry is that the system is knocking out one of the creative actors and another question will be whether that suits Harry Kane. Southgate will need alternatives if their captain doesn’t shoot. He should find room for Mason Greenwood. The good news is that England is spoiled for wealth on the attack. A lot of top attackers are going to miss out and Southgate’s task is to prove he can find the right formula. JS
England are strong contenders for victory in Qatar
England have won just 14 knockout matches in major tournaments; five of them were under Gareth Southgate. It is a mark of their success that they can go to Qatar among the favorites. It may be that the draw is not amiable or that they have excruciating luck and England come out in the squad or the round of 16 having played relatively well, but it is realistic for them to hope for the quarterfinals. final or beyond. It’s not just a young and exciting team, but a team that has depth in every position, with the possible exception of the center-forward and center-back.
As to whether England can win, it probably depends both on their ability to handle games better if they take the advantage against big teams, and also on Southgate’s quicker response when the momentum d ‘a match begins to turn against them. But these aren’t necessarily fatal flaws: They almost won the Euro – if Marcus Rashford’s penalty had gone three inches to the right, they probably would have. England are at least a serious contender and it had been a long time since that was true before a World Cup. JW
Manager’s choices will be scrutinized for a year
For the first time in a generation, perhaps more, the England men’s team will take part in a major tournament with real public expectations for victory. The quarter-finals are no longer enough. The semi-finals are no longer enough. It will add its own level of anxiety to Gareth Southgate’s squad as the race in Qatar approaches: knowing that every little crack, every selection dilemma, every lackluster friendly victory will be swept away and scrutinized in search of signs that England is nothing short of pristine.
The problem is that in the field, very little has really changed since the summer. We already knew England were brilliant at ruling out weaker teams and yet oddly vulnerable against better opposition, as the draws against Hungary and Poland proved. We already knew Southgate tends to be cautious in big games, a strategy that exposes them to the vicissitudes of luck, big moments and penalties. We already knew that England lacked the depth of France, the fluidity of Spain or the solidity of Brazil. But you can bet that over the next 12 dizzying months, we’ll all find different ways to forget. JL