In a shock to no one England managed to produce in a game with no meaning whatsoever, running out 4-0 winners over the whipping boys of their Nations League group, Iceland.
One wonders if this match had meant anything – England could only finish third in the group, win, lose or draw – Southgate’s team would have won so comfortably. Well, would he have picked this team, or would he have desperately tried to put in more of his favourites?
Again there follows claims that Southgate has a headache because of the performance of two players in particular, Grealish and Foden, with the latter scoring two goals. The same people making these claims then show the sides he could pick and they all include Southgate’s pets instead of these two.
Yes you can’t read too much into a glorified friendly in which the opposition, second team, had about 20% of the ball – I mean the England centre-backs were basically camped out in the Iceland half for most of the game – but who wouldn’t prefer to see a midfield three made up of a holding player, with Grealish and Foden. A midfield that looked forward, went forward and could play a pass. Compared to the dull holding pair that Southgate prefers.
I don’t know if Rice is that holding player, yes he got a goal, but he’s very limited. England’s goals in this campaign have been few and far between, just three before this game and two of them coming from penalties. This opener was a bit lucky, VAR in use and Rice is probably offside, while the ball skiffs of his shoulder in the far post, from Foden’s well taken free-kick.
It took them 20 minutes to get that opener, not long to double it, though it took them a number chances to finally convert one. They were getting plenty of players in the box for a change, this down to actually picking attacking players but also Iceland just inviting them in. Got a bit lucky again, a cross from Saka missed Kane, bounced of the defender to Mount who got the ball out from under his feet to score.
They didn’t score again until 10 minutes from the end of the game. Chances, plenty of chances. Harry was getting frustrated and he was just off with a number of attempts. By then Iceland were down to 10 men after a second yellow card, Kane and Grealish had made way – Jose slightly happier – Mount had been replaced earlier. Foden was still on and he got both of the goals. Like Kane he had a few chances before eventually, unlike harry, made one count. Saka and Sancho worked a nice one-two down the left, Sancho squared it to Foden in the box who swept his left foot shot inside the far post. As with Rice his first for the senior team.
Four minutes later he had his second and England’s fourth. Wow the “one of our own” mob will be overjoyed that Winks got an assist – while the rest are wondering why he even came on – one of those statistics that doesn’t tell the whole story as it really didn’t contribute to the goal, Foden made it all himself picking up the short, almost sideways, pass moving inside and then letting go from outside the D into the same corner he scored his first.
Southgate was full of himself. “Look what I’ve created they all wanted to stay and play for me in this meaningless game”. Yeah and come the crunch how many will he stick by, if available…