England open their World Cup campaign against Tunisia
England’s preparation is all but complete. Gareth Southgate‘s message has been very clear “England are ready”. Southgate confirmed that he had informed the players about his starting XI a day before kick off. His decision to make an early internal announcement has been a media talking point. Was it the right decision? Every player is different, some are happy to wait, others may not have the patience to find out what their role will be. It’s not difficult for the opposition to work out possible formations and starting XIs. It seems like the first time in years since a nation has been so receptive to an England manager’s rhetoric.
Suited for the role
Southgate is arguably more suited to the England role than his predecessors. Southgate’s leadership style fits the bill, the players know who the boss is but for once ‘common sense’ is being applied. From the outside England’s work-life balance looks to be spot on. Tomato ketchup hasn’t been banned and there haven’t been any reports of ‘hotel-bust ups’. In 2006 the big story was about the role of the WAGs, an unwanted distraction and something that Sven-Göran Eriksson says wasn’t a problem. In 2018 the talking points are centred around a new-look England side who are chomping at the bit to get going.
For me, coaching is about allowing others to be as good as they might be. We have lads that are so exciting and I want them to go into this tournament, really go for it, be as good as they may be and not go back and think, ‘I wish I had been a bit braver and tried something and been prepared to give the ball away. Gareth Southgate, The Telegraph
Connection with the nation
Southgate, like Chris Waddle, Stuart Pearce, David Batty and Steven Gerrard knows what it’s like to feel the pain of failing at a major tournament. The current England gaffer may not have won any international honours but he’s been there, he’s tasted the bitterness of defeat, you can’t take that away from him.
Southgate is somehow getting a lot of passion and excitement across without the unrealistic expectations levesl. Michael Allen
The decision to leave out Joe Hart raised a few eyebrows but Southgate has gone about selecting his 23-man squad in his own way. Time spent with the U-21 squad is well spent and Southgate acknowledges that ‘spirit’ alone won’t win you games. ‘Have fun’ – seems to be the message-of-the-day. The England coach has done all he can up to this point in time.
Over to the players
The preparation is complete. Plans seldom survive the first contact. It’s now down to the players to produce on the pitch. Don’t let the gaffer down.
We spoke to a few members of the East Midlands Owls and they gave their thoughts on England’s chances.
It’s nice not to have any expectations. It might allow the players to go out there and do their own thing. Dale Coe
England have genuine attacking pace and that gives us a dimension we’ve not really had before. Dave Beardsmore
There aren’t too many expectations this time around. That could be a good thing. Paul Thorley
I think Southgate is dull and uninspiring. Having read social media it seems that the expectations of the team is now being inflated. Iain Robertson
I didn’t like Southgate’s appointment at first but he’s won me over. I have to say that he’s approached this World Cup better than any manager I’ve seen with England. James Stenton
I think that he (Southgate) is doing a good job and I’m excited about the pace he has available. Our defence is always a doubt. I hope that we can go for it and don’t try to be cagey. Ian Malpass
I was totally underwhelmed when we appointed Southgate, but I think that prior to the tournament he has done as well as could be expected, given the player he has at his disposal. Southgate is coming across well now England have arrived in Russia and the mood in the camp seems positive. His work with many of the players at U21 level is helping in this regard. The England manager will be judged on how well we do in this tournament. With no recognised World Class player able to turn a game, and with a mediocre squad, the best we can hope for is the quarterfinals, which would be a success. Failure would be not getting out of the group. I think that we will go out in the last 16. Chris A
The expectation levels are a big noticeable difference, it used to get out of hand. We now hae a young squad with some talented players. We’ve got a good striker in Harry Kane and look well organised. I actually fancy us to win tight games, where I didn’t before, expectations levels are reasonable. Mike Hunter
Southgate speaks well and its all well and good but speaking well doesn’t necessarily bring success. Josh Scott
Featured image by Gunnar Berning commons wiki