25 Nov England: What are the key issues facing Gareth Southgate?
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By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer
England yield to Euro 2020 qualifying obligation in Wembley with a home double header against Bulgaria on Kosovo and Saturday at Southampton in St Mary’s on Tuesday – 2 fixtures that should not pose barriers to next summer’s showpiece.
Gareth Southgate’s side nonetheless, however, face serious concerns after falling short once again from the Netherlands in the semi-final of the inaugural Uefa Nations League – what key issues are going to be on the schedule over this period that is international that is next?
England’s failings, both when they lost to Croatia from the 2018 World Cup semi-final in Moscow and to the Netherlands in the Nations League at exactly the exact same point, were still also an inability to manipulate possession, create from midfield and dictate the conditions and pace of a match.
Croatia’s Luka Modric and the Netherlands’ Frenkie Jong, in performing this role, exposed a defect in the make-up of England that is yet to be cured.
Southgate lacks that participant but now there are indications that there is a team emerging who might have the ability to fill this place.
West Ham United’s Declan Rice and captain Jordan Henderson would be the midfield anchor men in this group, while Tottenham’s Harry Winks is an increasingly old figure. But this round of games definitely provides a chance for Leicester City’s James Maddison and Chelsea youngster Mason Mount to stake their claims.
Maddison and Mount both played in the England Under-21s’ Championship campaign in Italy in June – however have revealed enough this year to fully deserve their altitude to the senior squad.
Chelsea’s Ross Barkley can be in the framework however, 22-year-old Maddison is a prime contender for its role that is creative after an outstanding start to the summer at Leicester City.
Maddison has looked a target threat and also a supplier of chances, elegant and capable of delivering a supply line for Raheem Sterling along with Harry Kane.
In four league games this year, Maddison has created two goals, while Mount has scored just two but has yet to create a goal although he’s yet to hit the target. They will put strain.
And a pattern is to Maddison’s production. Even though he only rated joint 16th for assists with seven he set up the opportunities in the Premier League last year, 100.
This marks him down as somebody who needs to get his entire debut soon.
England are blessed at right-back, although Southgate surprisingly excluded long-time original pick Kyle Walker, while the new boy Aaron Wan-Bissaka of Manchester United continues to be wounded.
The Selection for the manager is a fanatic of the 2018 World Cup , between Kieran Trippier and Liverpool kid Trent Alexander-Arnold now under the defensive tutelage of Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.
The choice to drop who he chooses against Bulgaria and Walker, but he’ll return, was yet just another sign of the silent ruthlessness of Southgate will offer a very clear signpost to the future.
Trippier, at 28, is significantly more experienced than Alexander-Arnold, who is not 21 until a month, however, there isn’t any doubt who has been the better player over the past 12 months and surely it’s now time to get your youthful Merseysider to have given his opportunity.
Alexander-Arnold has his defects, but has been a part of a Liverpool side who was outstanding if England played in the Nations League finals at the low-key third-place play-off against Switzerland, also won the Champions League in June.
He is strong in defence, includes got a superb dimension to his own game – and is such a comprehensive player it is not from the query to finally see him figuring in midfield for club and country if the need arise.
Then the Jesse Lingard of Manchester United may regard himself fortunate to be included based club form if Walker was unfortunate to be lost. He has reason to be thankful for the dedication of Southgate and is currently maintaining his England squad place on the basis of England performances.
Lingard, considered a kid but 27 in December, has been the sole member of the group to skip training on Friday morning however when he’s fit to feature and is selectedhe will will want to create against Bulgaria or even Kosovo because pressure on his location is growing.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fell him Southampton – along with Lingard’s club stats back up the impression he needs to create.
Lingard’s last Premier League aims for United have been in the 5-1 away win December 2018 and his last aid came against Huddersfield Town. In addition, he failed to style an assist or dent for United.
It’s a gloomy record.
The younger brigade is closing and Lingard must show he deserves a England future.
In fact, England’s passing to Euro 2020 seems assured.
Both opening fittings have brought five targets each from the Czech Republic and Montenegro, and also home tests from Kosovo and Bulgaria – standing at 60th and 120th in the Fifa rankings – should be formalities.
Southgate, however, was delivering a message that is powerful protecting against complacency – forcing after apparent unhappiness at the FA following the Under-21s’ group-stage exit at Euro 2019.
He said pointedly:»I didn’t enjoy the fact that our boys came off that and believed they were still the best team in the tournament. That can not be the situation.»
A concept that was similar was presented by FA technical director Les Reed and it might function as a timely reminder.
England should browse this group effortlessly but Southgate will require concentration, application and attitude – and the knowledge that a tournament is currently coming to view needs to be more.