Gareth Southgate has got ‘the fans behind England again’ and increased competition in the squad, according to former Three Lions international Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Southgate led England to the World Cup semi-finals last year – the first time they had reached that stage since 1990 – and their success in Russia prompted fervent celebrations from fans back home.
The former England defender’s revolution came as he introduced a new and exciting style of football to the senior side that he had used while in charge of the Under-21s, as well as bringing talented, young players into the set-up, creating competition in his squad.
Wright-Phillips, speaking exclusively to AmericanGambler.com, said: “100% Southgate has got the fans behind England again, and what he’s done so well is that if players are playing well and they deserve to play, they’re given that chance and they’re given that start whereas previously it wouldn‘t be like that.
“No matter how well you played, you knew that you were on the bench or you were just in the squad whereas now, it’s keeping the competition so high in the England squad because people know that if you’re playing well in the league and say scoring goals, you’re likely to get the same chance to do that for England, so no-one’s position is safe as such.
“You have to keep performing which is always good in the game.”
Though England missed out on lifting the World Cup last summer, they have another opportunity for success this year in the inaugural Nations League finals.
England will face Netherlands on June 6 in their semi-final encounter, with Portugal or Switzerland awaiting in the final, and Wright-Phillips feels Southgate’s side have the potential to win the tournament.
Wright-Phillips, who scored six goals in 36 England appearance, added: “We’ve never not had the players, but we just never seem to get to the final hurdle for some reason.
“Even now, the potential of the squad is unbelievable and they can win it.
“The current squad is definitely good enough to win it and I think Southgate has done a tremendous job with them, and he has utilised the young talents coming through very well.”
The Three Lions will have a tough test against Ronald Koeman’s Dutch squad as it contains arguably the world’s best defender, Virgil van Dijk, along with the likes of rising stars Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong.