Gareth Southgate is in a constant battle with the English delusion | England

WWelcome to the account. The world sport has spent most of the past two years in flight delays, confused by bubbles and fires, due to dates that aren’t really dates, events that seem to happen on the wrong schedule. Well, here comes the central point: Qatar 2022, the non-negotiable point, the fixed point this camouflage case is all about.

Check the watch in your pocket, it’s still set to Standard Tournament Time, which is actually April. The World Cup – cabin crew and landing seats – is less than two months away. The competition kicks off this week with a round of Nations League matches, the first steps towards the final in Doha on December 18. At the end of the season, with red and nervous eyes, the season is free to return through arrivals and straight into the Christmas fixture menu.

For England, the race starts on Friday against Italy in Milan, followed by Germany’s visit to Wembley three days later. It is a double head with a delicious look and an unusually urgent prospect on two fronts. First, as the last chance to iron out staff and tactics questions ahead of the World Cup, many people, or at least many Englishmen, seem to think Gareth Southgate’s side should be among the favorites to win.

And second, this is the beginning of a broader account of Gareth’s age. It’s been six years now, spanning around two tournaments, one of which is a plague-infested plastic thing that started with nonsense and ended in toxic waste.

at that time England The team has been reimagined, and promoted to unprecedented levels of achievement (without the trophy); But he also suffers from a strange sense of anger and dissatisfaction. The next 12 weeks may decide which way this thing will go. Southgate said it wouldn’t take him long. And it’s always a little later than you think.

At this point, it’s time to get rid of some familiar, reassuring questions. Basically, is England any good? What should we reasonably expect – this key word – from this team? And how distracting is the noise (because there is always noise) around it?

The answers are always linked. On Tuesday morning, a national radio station questioned whether anything less than winning the World Cup should be considered a failure for England, who have won one championship in 72 years of trying. Hmmm. Good question. Let’s break that down, we Arabs.

England are capable of reaching the quarter-finals, with nothing more than that as a bonus. But two things must happen. First, they have to eliminate ambient noise. This is at least familiar territory. In many ways, Southgate’s time was defined by the ongoing battle with English delusion, English exceptionalism, and the self-sabotage of unrealistic English expectations.

Bobby Moore lifts the 1966 World Cup: England's only victory in the tournament in 72 years of trying.
Bobby Moore lifts the 1966 World Cup: England’s only victory in the tournament in 72 years of trying. Photo: PA Images

He won this battle once using his best trick, the ability to turn weaknesses into strengths. This is true on a tactical level. The England squad he inherited could not hold the ball and were weak in the middle of defence. Solution: Play seven defensive players, keep the ball deep in that rump, and it becomes harder to break through.

The same has been achieved, and most importantly, in the world of feelings, feelings, and energy. The England he inherited was also arrogant and fragile. By the time Russia 2018, he had a team with outstanding humility and performance. We are the most humble. Look at our humility and our trembling, because we are England, really exceptional in our lack of exceptionalism. It worked. The players did not feel any pressure. The country triumphantly embraced its lack of victory.

The English delusion caught up with this, too. The thinking seems to be: Because now we’re so good, we have to be the best of course. The success of others is an aberration, a departure from the state of grace in which Arthur lived. So the fact that England had such good players translated into an “unstoppable hand of golden talent”. The rare success in reaching the Euro 2020 final has become an unjustified failure Failing to win the Euro 2020 final.

As always, this comes down to questions of size. England is able to beat Italy and Germany. But they are also at the bottom of the Nations League group without a goal from open play. At the same time, the idea of ​​\u200b\u200bthe generation of talents, which the whole of Europe is the envy of, does not hold. Harry Kane is England’s best player, fifth in the world rankings, but with a difference from the elite Mbappe and Lewandowski. Raheem Sterling, Southgate’s second most effective offensive weapon, Leave Manchester City For more starts.

None of the England goalkeepers play in the Champions League. Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka are good young players, but they are unlikely to inspire feelings of outright awe in countries with a wide hand of talented strikers. What other elite international teams might consider Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw to start with?

In addition, in a strong blow to the national psyche, other countries are present. The struggle to tackle this is in many ways the crucial battleground for English football and indeed for English culture in general. There is a difference that looks at the top level. Brazil has lost once since the start of 2020. France and Germany are strong. Do England, as is right, expect to beat Belgium, Portugal, Spain or Argentina?

There is an advertising element to this loss of scale, and it is the personal animosity behind the desire to speak of Southgate’s strong achievements as England manager. Many simply do not like his policies, his method and his tactical caution. But Southgate has his drawbacks. There was a lack of development, and a feeling that other teams had learned how to fight England’s simple game plan.

Declan Rice responded to England's defeat in the Euro 2020 final.
Declan Rice responded to England’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final. The rare success in reaching the final has become the unforgivable failure of a win. Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Every major defeat in his six years – CroatiaAnd the HollandItaly (on penalties) – Outmaneuvering and outplaying them come late in tight knockout matches when, as a rule, the best midfield wins.

The real point of development was getting ready to start the more progressive Judd Bellingham. But Bellingham is also 19 years old. And sizzle my progression 4-3-3 Lost 4-0 to Hungary The last time.

It seems almost certain that Southgate will fall back into his comfort zone, to the control ball and minute detail. England need to win next week, or at least avoid defeat, because winning was difficult. Essentially, they need to create energy, to feel good, to find the degree of missionary enthusiasm.

Trust the process. From this distance, it’s the only one we’ll get. It is worth saying again. England have reached the semi-finals five times in 72 years, two of them (two out of two) under Southgate. Whatever the current jet lag behind air travel ends up being, those accomplishments will remain.

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