While it may feel strange that the World Cup isn’t taking place in the summer and will instead go down in the winter, that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited about it. If anything, it’s actually quite intriguing to see how it’ll play out – even if it’s a blood money tournament and we should all feel a little bit sick that Qatar were awarded it in the first place.
Anyway, that’s a different topic for a different day, because we’re here to discuss the chances of England and the role Gareth Southgate has to play in their success or failure this November.
The former defender was frowned upon quite heavily when he was selected as the man to replace Sam Allardyce, largely because fans and pundits alike felt as if he was quite unproven. In the end, though, we’d argue it’s turned out to be quite a shrewd appointment from The FA.
Sure, things haven’t always gone swimmingly, but Southgate is the kind of boss who seems to put the players at ease – and that’s an underrated trait in the modern era of social media and high levels of scrutiny.
Having spoken to Conor Coady about this exact issue, it’s clear to see that he’s mastered the art of getting these players to care about playing for their nation and we absolutely adore that. Of course, that’s only half of the story, and the other half is what happens on the pitch.
Nobody really expected the Three Lions to do much of note back at the 2018 World Cup but after a real team spirit combined with a favourable run, they were able to reach the semi-finals before being knocked out by Croatia.
There was certainly some momentum heading into the Euros and even though the competition was delayed for a year, they were still able to live up to the hype put in front of them, even if it wasn’t particularly thrilling football to watch at times.
The methodical nature of their game saw them make it to just their second major international final, and better yet, it was taking place at Wembley.
Italy served as the opposition on the night and after a hard-fought affair, the Azzurri took home the trophy on penalties, in classic English football style.
Southgate was criticised for his decision-making with regards to who he selected to take penalties and that, really, is where the issue lies.
People want to focus on the fact that England have gone four games without a victory recently but we really don’t think that’s the story here.
Southgate, in our view, has proven that he can get this talented squad deep into tournaments and see where they go from there – and that’s good enough for us. If, at the World Cup this winter, his tactical decisions get in the way of the team succeeding, then we can understand where calls may arise for him to be replaced.
But until that moment comes, we should all keep believing that it’s coming home.