England mounted a thrilling comeback to seek redemption over Croatia and progress into the knockout phase of the UEFA Nations League.
The UEFA Nations League has been ridiculed by a number of football spectators for being yet another unnecessary tournament. That opinion is completely valid; nevertheless it could play an important role in putting England in good stead ahead of the European Championships in 2020.
Gareth Southgate had us all believing in the summer. The summer sun was shining bright, beer gardens were packed with happily drunk Englishman dressed in white and everyone believed England were going to win the World Cup.
Three Lions on a Shirt was incessantly chanted across the country and the euphoria surrounding England grasped the nation. It ended in disappointment with a semi-final defeat to Croatia, but most sensible supporters reflected on the tournament in a positive manner.
Supporters have grown accustomed to experiencing heartache, but the summer of 2018 promised to defy history. Five months on from that heart-wrenching loss at the hands of Croatia, it was the Croats who were on the wrong end of the result this time round.
In my short lifetime, this is undoubtedly the most promising period for the England National Team. John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and co were expected to conquer international football, but individual fame overshadowed the potential harmony that could’ve transpired between the players.
However, the difference with the current generation is that they seem significantly more disciplined and the team unity is there for all to see. Not only is the fabric of the current set-up benefiting the performance of the team, but the squad depth and balance between younger and experienced players creates a heavenly dilemma.
For example, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could all seamlessly occupy the right-back position. It’s truly wonderful to have such an abundance of options and it’s an exciting prospect heading into the future.
The appointment of Southgate was questionable, but no one in the right mind could possibly question that decision today. He’s provided structure and stability and has favoured the importance of team performance rather than being tempted to indulge in reputable individuals.
He’s exemplified composure in stressful situations and is a calming influence of the players. Southgate has been a delightful surprise and a welcome breath of fresh air. I’m confident that England are embarking on a successful future if Southgate remains at the helm and success in the Nations League could be a valuable taste of victory to prepare England for the far more prestigious tournaments such as the European Championships and World Cup.
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