Roy Hodgson’s England underperformed at the European Championships in France last summer and Gareth Southgate has been given the task of leading England to glory in the 2018 World Cup. Southgate wasn’t the FA’s first choice but he has the experience to take England back to the summit of world football.
On paper, England have the talent to rival the likes of Brazil, Germany and Spain on the international stage – that is how good they can be.
Record goal scorer Wayne Rooney might not be around for the next major tournament but England’s young crop of offensive talent can fill the void left by the Manchester United man.
Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford have all shown plenty of promise for their country in recent times and Southgate will turn to these three men to lead the line as England look to secure automatic qualification to the competition.
As of February 18th, the Three Lions are top of their qualifying group, two points clear of Slovenia, and Southgate will be quietly confident of reaching Russia.
Southgate’s England gave Spain a stern examination at Wembley Stadium back in November but the hosts capitulated in true English style to gift the visitors a draw.
At two-nil up, the Three Lions were cruising to victory but two goals in the dying embers put a downer on what was then Southgate’s final match as interim manager. Since then, the former England under-21 boss has been appointed as the first team coach on a four-year deal.
Defensively, England have been left wanting in recent years and the Three Lions are yet to find a reliable replacement for John Terry at the heart of the defence.
Gary Cahill had a few decent years but he has failed to inspire confidence at times this season while Chris Smalling has fallen out of favour under Jose Mourinho. If truth be told, it is hard to have much faith in a centre-back partnership consisting of Cahill and Phil Jones or John Stones.
If Southgate is to succeed at the helm, he must give younger players a chance to prove themselves on the big stage. Rashford prospered at Old Trafford last season and there are plenty of starlets out there who deserve the opportunity to shine for the national side. After all, England’s method of opting for experience hasn’t exactly worked in the past…
England are priced at 20/1 to win the World Cup in bet365’s international football betting markets and it is difficult to back the Three Lions with any confidence right now.
Finishing at the top of the group in qualifying is one thing but going toe to toe with the best teams on the planet is another; and England just haven’t been able to figure out a winning formula since Sir Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup back in 1966.
1966. England’s greatest football moment. pic.twitter.com/UQ6hJIiTZs
— Classic Football (@ClassicFootbaIl) February 16, 2017
This side has potential but Southgate cannot afford to take anything for granted. Win the group and then assess the situation prior to the trip to Russia; England might have the perfect blend of youth, experience and talent to go far.