Gareth Southgate luckily managed to not become the first England manager to lose four games in a row as his side squeaked a friendly victory over Switzerland.
After England’s first outing in the UEFA Nations League, they had lost three games on the trot for the first time since Bobby Robson’s glorious campaign at the Euros in 1988. Croatia in the World Cup semi-final, then Belgium in the 3rd/4th play off game and now Spain in this new competition.
Next up was this friendly against Switzerland, who had just put six past the country that put England out of the last Euros, Iceland, following that the next international games see them making away trips to Croatia and Spain. Now while England were luckily squeaking past the Swiss, Spain were thumping the Croats six nil. But with England’s recent record and they’re overall record against decent sides, if they hadn’t won this meaningless game, Gareth Southgate could quite easily be looking at a record of six defeats in a row.
It’s not really much of a World Cup momentum, that.
Hell, when I pointed out after the World Cup semi defeat that they could quite easily follow the pattern of the last time they reached that level, in 1990, it was downhill until they didn’t get to the following World Cup. Yet during the first part of Graham Taylor’s reign he did win his first 11 games in charge.
Of course, when they probably do lose those two games, one win out of six and five competitive losses in a row isn’t a good look. The chances of those games being lost are greatly improved by the papering over the crack win over Switzerland and the tight scoreline against Spain.
Imagine being outplayed by Switzerland, one of the dullest teams in the world. So dull that Southgate wouldn’t look out of place in their setup. In the first half the totally eclipsed Southgate’s second XI, yes it wasn’t the first team but honestly would it have made a difference? They just didn’t have anyone to finish off the few chances they created.
Much like the previous game against Spain. England may have more shots but they can’t finish ’em off and at the same time are thoroughly outplayed. The final score against Spain flattered England, if the ref had correctly given the Welbeck goal at the end, it would have been daylight, well nighttime robbery.
Southgate is still the major problem. He still thinks that playing out from the back is something England can do. Something that doesn’t cause them all sorts of problems. He watches the goal against Spain, with all its pace and thinks, “yeah, we played out from the back, it works” when it’s the one time they did it with pace and with one touch stuff, instead of fannying about sideways and back to the keeper.
But then Southgate will look at the two goals Rashford score in the two games and still think Sterling is the better option up front. While Rashford took both goals expertly, against Spain Sterling would have been offside, from the brilliant Shaw cross, and then wouldn’t have a clue which foot to kick the ball with, resulting in him missing it and falling over. God knows how he would butcher the chance against Switzerland after Walker’s hit and hope, really missed everyone, cross.
Because Southgate is the type, with half an hour to go in a friendly with his team one up to bring Harry Kane on. Kane has been none stop since he broke into the Spurs starting line up. He needs a rest. Yet in a nothing game he brings him on for his 32 cap. I mean if you don’t know what Harry does by now but then does Southgate know what Harry does? Because the manager doesn’t get the best out of Kane. It’s Kane that is laying balls on for others. How many good chances have been created for Kane over the last few games, in which he hasn’t scored for England?
Southgate has turned Kane into a non-scorer and Dele into a non-provider. While making the defence unable to defend…