England’s World Cup 2018 finished on a somewhat bum note, as the Three Lions suffered a 2-0 defeat against Belgium on Saturday in the third-place play-off. In truth, the game was one that both sides could have done without playing.
However, they played, and Belgium showed their extra class with a victory in the end. The Belgium defeat and other experiences are important to the future of the English national team.
This England team have won the fans back
The critics who claim that England were in the comfortable half of the draw certainly have credence. No doubt Gareth Southgate’s side had an easier route to the semi-final than they could have had. The fact they fell to defeats when facing decent opposition is also a concern.
However, there are more positives than negatives from World Cup 2018. The biggest positive is that the team seem to have won the fans back. This team is not the greatest group of individual players England have had, but they have connected with the fans more than any England squad has for a long time.
The main reason seems to be that this squad of players appear to be more down to earth and grounded, which makes them far more likeable. Most are not spoon fed academy products that are just playing football to buy their next Porsche or Ferrari. They appear to take pride in what they are doing and playing for their country.
The current group of players seems to lack the massive egos of past squads. These players have plied their trade in the lower leagues, some enjoying multiple loan spells from their Premier League clubs, while others started in the lower leagues.
It has been refreshing to see England players so relaxed on and off the pitch. Boss Gareth Southgate deserves credit for the atmosphere in the camp.
New regulars have emerged for England
Before the World Cup, it felt like Southgate had a way he wanted his team to play, but there were big question marks over the players to occupy the positions. The likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire and Kieran Trippier have emerged as England regulars.
Southgate maybe took a gamble in giving these inexperienced players their chance. However, all three have impressed at club level in recent seasons, so he must have had faith in the trio to perform. Barring injury problems, all three are likely to be regulars in the England squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
The England boss has only just begun building an England team capable of competing with world football’s superpowers. As defeats against Belgium and Croatia showed, the Three Lions are still developing and learning.
According to media reports, Southgate is planning to bring some of the youngsters from the successful under-18 and under-20 teams into the international fold in the new season. The likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Ryan Sessegnon and Ademola Lookman all seem likely to find their way into the Three Lions squad in the near future. These are youngsters with immense potential.
Looking to Euro 2020
England boss Southgate has already stated that his attention will now turn to qualifying for Euro 2020. The Three Lions, World Cup adventure, has done little to the betting for the competition, as England are odds of 8/1 to win the European Championships.
Still, the likes of France, Germany, Spain and Belgium are way ahead of the Three Lions when it comes to quality and tactical nous from their coaches. England still has a long way to go to catch up to those teams.
However, the England players and indeed Southgate himself will be all the better for their time in Russia this summer. The Three Lions may not have won the World Cup, but the team certainly now seems to be moving in the right direction.
I hope that that positive momentum can continue through qualifying for Euro 2020 and beyond. The future for the England national team certainly seems a lot brighter now, long may that continue.
Is England moving in the right direction?
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!