Gareth Southgate’s young side continue adding to their list of firsts

first_imgTopics Share on Facebook Spanish press reaction: ‘Lord’ Harry Kane brought Spain to their knees Share on Twitter Share on WhatsApp Read more Share on Messenger Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Read more Play Video England Nations Leaguecenter_img 1:37 Ben Chilwell, for instance, was playing at left-back because Luke Shaw and Danny Rose were unavailable. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Fabian Delph were missing. Adam Lallana, another of Southgate’s favourites, is still in the manager’s plans. Southgate brought on Nathaniel Chalobah for his debut but Mason Mount and James Maddison will have to wait for another time. Phil Foden and others are emerging as potential England players and if there is one thing that is clear about Southgate’s methodology, it is that he is unafraid to make bold selection decisions rather than sticking with the same core of players.“We’re asking the players to be fearless and if we’re asking that, I’ve got to embody that as a leader,” he said. “But I wouldn’t pick them if I didn’t think they could play.”It was not entirely painless for Southgate and he had his left thumb in a dressing as he left Seville for the flight back to England. “I sliced it cutting my bread at lunch time,” said the man who dislocated an arm after a fall while out on a jog during the World Cup. England’s manager may remain accident-prone but the same can no longer be said of his team. features Gareth Southgate “It would have been very easy for him to think: ‘Actually, he’s going to be competition for me so I’m gonna just put him to one side.’ But then in training the next day he was passing on advice to him. That embodies the spirit of the group and that is crucial if we’re going to have success.”It was a nice story Southgate relayed from the bowels of the Estadio Benito Villamarín, basking in the warm afterglow of a 3-2 victory against Spain. Yet togetherness has seldom been a problem for England. The real issue has been about taking care of the ball, about having the confidence to take on elite teams and playing with the freedom that was evident, in particular, during the first-half blitz of a side who, in Southgate’s view, would have had a decent stab at winning the World Cup but for the furore surrounding Julen Lopetegui’s departure.The challenge for England now is for that to become the norm rather than the exception, and making sure it is not remembered in time as a one-off. Can their display in Seville be a springboard to move away from the days when it felt, too often, like they had an inferiority complex against the leading football nations?“It’s a great reference point for us,” Southgate said. “We have progressed through a lot of barriers in the summer: the first knockout win in a decade, the first penalty shootout win [since Euro 96]. The next barriers were: ‘OK, we’ve got to start knocking these top teams down.’ They were brave enough to do it and for our young players especially, it’s important to have these really positive experiences.“We keep talking to them about ‘this is the way we want you to play as a young team – change the perceptions of what England can do’. We’ve won matches like this in the past, but maybe not in the same style, and there are young English players who will see that and see what we’re trying to do. We have to take this forward with us.”England had not won in Spain for more than 30 years and at one point, leading 3-0 and threatening to add even more goals, it was tempting to think back to the 5-1 demolition of Germany in September 2001. “The problem with that is Germany went on to the World Cup final,” Southgate said. “We didn’t get that far, did we?”Yet he understood the reference. England’s team in Seville was their youngest starting lineup since 1959 and Spain had a couple of players, namely Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets, who had more caps alone than Southgate’s entire starting XI. Share via Email Gareth Southgate hails England’s ‘quality’ and ‘bravery’ after win over Spain – video Eric Dier says England have learned how to avoid being intimidated As Gareth Southgate reflected on the most striking result of his two years as England manager – and the considerable evidence that, on his watch, they are going to fear nobody – he thought back to a moment in Croatia to illustrate his point that these are uncommon, and happy, times for the national team.The first player to congratulate Jadon Sancho for making his debut, Southgate wanted us to know, was possibly the one with the most to lose. Raheem Sterling, after all, had been the player to make way for the 18-year-old substitute during the goalless draw in Rijeka. Yet Sterling, Southgate revealed, had been “straight over” to England’s new kid on the block to embrace. Southgate watched this dressing-room scene unfold and was so impressed he wanted to share what he saw. It was the first time Spain had ever conceded three goals in a competitive fixture at home and the kind of result, Southgate noted, that would attract attention throughout the football world. Even more remarkable, England outmanoeuvred Luis Enrique’s team with a list of absentees including Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard, Jordan Henderson and John Stones, four of the players who were so instrumental in helping the team reach the World Cup semi-finals. Reuse this contentlast_img

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