Sunday, May 20, 2018

England display against the Netherlands encouraging

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In recent years it has got to a point for me with England that I avoid watching them if I can. If the Three Lions were playing in my back garden I would shut the curtains, they have been that uninspiring.

The appointment of Gareth Southgate as boss was an uninspiring one because the former Middlesbrough chief comes across as Mr Dull. I have referred to him in my editorials in the past as Mr Beige.

For most of his reign, the current England team offered very little to change the perception of Southgate and his managerial style. They have been functional if laboured in their approach.

However, in the Three Lions 1-0 win against a very average Netherlands side on Friday, there were positive signs going forward. Much of those positive signs were due to the presence of the pacey trio in attack Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and goalscorer Jesse Lingard.

Trio’s performances a big positive

The simple fact is that defenders do not like pacey players running at them. All three of the aforementioned players have pace. Rashford has endured a slightly frustrating campaign with Manchester United. However, he caused the Dutch defence major problems.

Lingard and Sterling are enjoying the best seasons of their careers. Both are very useful assets to Southgate and enjoyed encouraging displays in Amsterdam.

All three players will be hoping to be in the Three Lions starting line-up when the Three Lions kick-off their World Cup in Russia in June. The trio provides pace, directness and energy.

Will the trio be in the team?

There is no doubt about it Tottenham’s Harry Kane is England’s first-choice striker. The 24-year-old is one of the most consistent and prolific goalscorers in Europe’s top leagues.

Kane is currently sidelined due to injury. However, the striker is expected to return to fitness in April, allaying fears that he will miss the World Cup this summer.

The Spurs striker, injuries permitting will be in England’s starting line-up for World Cup 2018 and deserves to be. That means that the front three who started on Friday night are unlikely to start in Russia.

Then there is Kane’s Tottenham teammate Dele Alli, who has endured a bit of an inconsistent time in recent months, despite enjoying a productive campaign. The attacking midfielder has a regular for England in recent years.

The fact he started on the bench, despite Kane’s absence may suggest that Southgate is open to the former MK Don’s star missing out on his starting eleven. However, it may just be a case of rotating his options.

It seems unlikely at the minute that all three will be in the World Cup squad. In truth, it would be hard to omit them, as they all offer so much to the team.

Sterling is the most likely of the three to start for the Three Lions, as his form this season has been hard to ignore. Those who have previously criticised the winger are likely to be the same people cheering him in Russia.

England has to treat Russia as a learning curve

Everybody connected with the England national team needs to treat Russia 2018 as a learning curve. The low expectations amongst England fans about their team may just be a blessing in disguise.

The current England squad is not great. However, the Three Lions do have some exciting players in the squad. The likes of Rashford, Sterling and Lingard are certainly at the forefront of the squad.

I doubt anybody will get carried away about the win over a poor Netherlands side. However, there were positives signs not just from the attacking players, but also from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Kyle Walker playing in an unfamiliar centre-back position.

England are odds of 18/1 to win the World Cup, which shows that nobody realistically expects the Three Lions to lift the trophy this summer. However, if Gareth Southgate and his team can take positives from the tournament, then it can only be of benefit for future international tournaments.

Who was England’s man of the match against the Netherlands?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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