Friday, November 27, 2020

Is Gareth Southgate Good Enough?

The England national team face off against Iceland in a rematch of the Euro 2016 round of 16 shock defeat that cost Roy Hodgson his job. Gareth Southgate will want his side to get the win in this Nations League match to restore some positivity after the 2-0 defeat to Belgium.

Even if they get the win, the question will still remain whether Gareth Southgate is good enough for the job.

Southgate was brought in as Hodgson’s replacement and managed to take England to the World Cup semi final in his first major tournament.

England’s Favourable World Cup Run

You cannot deny that Gareth lifted the hopes of a nation in the 2018 World Cup. However, he was fortunate with a favourable side of the draw which meant that England’s opponents in the knockout stage were Columbia, Sweden and Croatia.

Harry Maguire after his goal for England against Sweden in the 2018 World Cup quarter final.

Meanwhile, eventual champions France had to play Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium on their way to the final against Croatia. This represents a much tougher route to the final.

Many big names went out early in the tournament.

Euro 2016 winners Portugal went out in the Round of 16, as did Spain who lost on penalties to host nation Russia. Holders Germany didn’t even make it out of the group stage.

Gareth Southgate’s Issues

Gareth Southgate during the 2018 World Cup.

Southgate has many times been tactically beaten by opposition managers. Since October 2019, England have lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic, have both drawn and lost to Denmark as well as the aforementioned loss to Belgium.

He has been found out when he has played better opposition. Despite the recent win against Belgium, England lost twice to Roberto Martínez’ side in the World Cup, albeit in one game many fans actually wanted to lose due to the favourable side of the draw and the other being in a third place play off.

England and Belgium during the 2018 World Cup third place playoff.

However, both games saw England outplayed.

Southgate’s style of football and 3-4-3 formation has been criticised by the media, notably Jamie O’Hara who claimed that the formation was holding England back.

Before his role with England, Southgate managed the under 21 side as well as Middlesborough, with whom he suffered relegation with.

Many questioned this appointment but the run in the 2018 World Cup glossed over Southgate’s experience at managing at the top. The 2018 heroics definitely allows him the chance at another major tournament, but should England not perform then serious questions will need to be asked.

England players after winning a penalty shootout against Columbia in the 2018 World Cup.

England have an exciting plethora of young and experienced talent. From Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood, to Mason Mount and Jack Grealish. Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling are some of the Premier League’s best talents.

Just as we saw with the Golden Generation that failed to live up to expectation in 2002, 2004 and 2006, it would be an awful shame to once again see such talent go to waste.

England’s team was filled with players such as Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Ashley Cole, John Terry and Rio Ferdinand. These are some of the best players ever to grace the Premier League.

It was a true injustice that they never managed to perform past a quarter final in a major tournament. From the Ronaldinho free kick in 2002 to the penalty shoot out losses to Portugal in 2004 and 2006, England just could not get the job done.

For me, the reason the team never reached a semi final or further was down to the manager Sven-Göran Eriksson. It should be a worry for England fans that the same will happen with this crop of English talent.

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