England manager Gareth Southgate believes the Three Lions are close to ending their wait to win their first major tournament since 1966, as they have been for generations, with less than a year to go before the Qatar World Cup. ۔
The Southgate team is back in action for the first time since losing the Euro 2020 final to Italy in three World Cup qualifiers against Hungary, Andorra and Poland.
Reaching Qatar should be a formality for the world’s fourth-ranked nation, now expected to compete to win the World Cup for the second time instead of scoring in the Middle East.
England’s fortunes have changed since Southgate appointed Sam Allardyce as manager in 2016.
The first World Cup semi-final in 28 years in Russia in 2018 after reaching the European Championship final for the first time in England’s history.
Still, for all the progress and applause along the way, some of the old failures came back to haunt them at Euro 2020 when everything was queuing up for the crown as champions.
In losing the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Nations League and Euro finals, the Southgate men could not have wished for a better start as they had scored early.
But they failed to make those leads, dominating Croatia, the Netherlands and Italy before winning in the second half.
Defeat to Italy on penalties added to the tournament’s most painful defeats in the shootout.
However, there are many reasons to believe that England should be strong only after the World Cup when it is still a very young team to learn from these experiences.
“We always want to knock on the door in the final stages of these competitions because you have to learn to win the semi-finals and the finals,” Southgate said.
“It’s a common practice, if you look at our club teams (in European competition), that you have to go through. That’s how we look at it.
“We know we were the youngest team in the last 16 (at Euro 2020), less experienced in terms of international caps and there is no doubt that these players are getting better individually and that’s it. Our goal is team too.
“We’ve learned a lot from our win and the disappointment in the World Cup semi-final and final. Time.”
England have already taken the most points in Group I before their first three qualifiers and could practically secure the qualification by next weekend which should be their most difficult group games in Hungary and Poland. ۔
The focus will be on how Southgate, despite its success, prepares to end the euro after being pressured to play a wider football brand.
Jack Grealish had to watch most of the tournament from the band, along with Judon Sancho and Marcus Rashford as Southgate relied on Declan Rice and Clone Phillips’ two holding midfielders.
But Gresh has since sealed the transfer of 100 100 million ($ 138 million) to Manchester City to become the most expensive English player in history and could be left strapped with more room for error in the qualifiers.