Ever since Gareth Southgate took over the managerial seat for England’s National Football Team, saying that the team has gone through a night and day effect could be putting it lightly. Before Southgate’s arrival, this team was known for its gallons of talent but sheer lack of luck when it came to definitive stages of the tournaments they were a part of. Sports betting news anchors would always wonder when a change would come, especially given with how many, young, up and coming talented players England has been producing for the past few years. But once Southgate arrived, everything took a definite turn for the better.
Even while criticized at times for the team’s conservative playing style, Gareth Southgate has managed to make this team go back to being the respected and at times feared football powerhouse it once was, punching their ticket to Qatar 2022 with more ease than anything else. But now that they’re qualified for FIFA’s upcoming World Cup Tournament, what does England need to have to make a true chase for the title? Let’s take a look.
There Needs To Be A Balance Between Experience and Youth
One of the most important factors to take into account when thinking about England’s recent successes, is the overwhelming amount of young, top-tier talented players that have started making their presence felt in Gareth Southgate’s roster. Southgate might have an issue that many other managers around the world would love to be having, especially if the idea of winning the World Cup title is in their minds, having too many good players for only enough spots in the roster. Given that the Qatar 2022 tournament will come just a year and a half after England’s amazing run at the 2020 Euro tournament, that saw them lose in the finals against Italy, for Southgate this means that the time for experimenting with different starting formations as well as trying out new players will be significantly shorter than in other stages. So where does this leave the team? In rushing to find a perfect mix between all of the balanced players on the squad alongside all of the emerging youth talents around.
Players like Jordan Pickford, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, with ample levels of experience playing for England should all rest aware that their spots in Egland’s final roster for the tournament are secured, but who then could play as the perfect counterparts for that experience, bringing in youth and explosiveness on to the pitch? Players like Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Reece James, Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Curtis Jones, Conor Gallagher, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and most recently Emile Smith Rowe will all be waiting for a chance to shine at Qatar 2022. So in reality, it’s not hard for Southgate to find talent and balance in his squad, what’s hard is finding who the best pieces are for each position and how to meld them all together into a title contending squad.
It’s no secret to anybody that this truly is England’s golden generation of players, so why not make the best out of that and go for the gold?
Learning To Deal With Favoritism
Ever since taking over the England managerial job, Gareth Southgate has taken this team from being a great team with low expectations to being an even better team whose expectations can easily be halted over the roof for fans and analysts. While most teams thrive, mostly inspired by these expectations, for England, especially taking into account the vast amount of young players that the team has, learning how to deal with the favoritism tags and the expectations for greatness should be an exercise to keep a strong eye on. It has to be said that the tags and expectations are not inventions, they are real, and they will most likely continue to grow in strength as time continues to go on until we reach Qatar 2022, so this is something that Southgate and his team need to learn how to work with.
There are various factors to take into account that might end up helping the team though. Given that the tournament will be hosted in November of 2022, instead of the usual July and August dates, this means that all players will already be in competing form because of all the major tournaments already happening. Southgate should use that to his advantage, having the players learn how to differ their focus away from the pressures of being World Cup favorites to favor their own club goals. The players will be able to join the England squad already having the feel of competition running through their veins, allowing for them to jump into the craze that the WC tournament will offer with more peace of mind.
While there have already been talks about extending Southgate’s contract at least until the Euro 2024 tournament, that all has to be put aside with the idea of starting to think about how to come up with and groom a team that can be completely ready to battle all pressures that can come from being tagged as tournament favorites taking the first hand. Some might say that England has never looked better than right now to win the World Cup, and in all honesty, they’re not lying, but then again, Southgate and England have done their best work while standing quietly, not ravishing through the competition.