Ask an England fan, and they will all agree that the English aren’t exactly favourites when the World Cup commences in Russia. In fact, there’s even talk of whether they will be able to get out of the group stages. That’s how far the expectations of England fans have fallen compared to the past where they had the golden generation with the likes of Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and Frank Lampard. Don’t blame the English fans for the World Cup has brought them more heartache and dashed hopes in their quest to win their first trophy since 1966.
But low expectations can be used to England’s advantage and with the squad England have combined with an untested manager; The Three Lions are somewhat dark horses. It would be unthinkable to label them dark horses in the past but the present England squad is much different from the past.
But to be honest England has a fairly decent squad that is brimming with talented youth and in Harry Kane they have a forward who is genuinely a world class talent. Not to mention the likes of Delle Ali, Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard are more than capable of striking fear into any opponent, on their day. For caretaker manager Gareth Southgate he is definitely a novice when compared to other managers of traditional European powerhouses. Southgate when compared to former manager Roy Hodgson though is a breath of fresh air. He knows England function well when they attack instead of being cautious especially with the creative and youthful players he has at his disposal.
In England’s World Cup qualifying campaign, the team had an average of 66% possession and a passing accuracy of 87%. All of this point to a team that is comfortable on the ball. This is where Southgate earns his money or not, he must come up with a system that will get the best out of his players. At the moment he is still figuring things out but the real test will be in Russia. England cannot afford to be tactically naïve. World Cup winning manager Vicente Del Bosque believes a lack of tactical development could be the root cause of England’s problems at international level. England has had great players over the years but a lack of clear system has harmed its chances. How Paul Scholes failed to have more England appearances could be down to this. One can only hope Southgate does not repeat the mistakes of his predecessors.