England’s embarrassing relegation from their Nations League group may be the least of coach Gareth Southgate’s worries as they once again scoffed at their status as one of the presumptive World Cup favorites.
Here, in the majestic surroundings of Milan’s San Siro stadium, England’s dismal streak of results was extended with a defeat to deeply weakened Italy, which Not even in Qatar When the show starts in November.
Southgate now has 90 minutes to play against Germany on Monday before he names his team, and the selection dynamics have changed due to the tournament’s unique timing which sees domestic action continue even days before the opening game.
Southgate’s ideas must be crystallized, names set in stone, and only the final tweaks and confirmation remain before England embark on the task of improving their run to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia in 2018.
None of that. Not if this performance is any accurate metric.
If that’s how England would shape, they wouldn’t launch with confidence because this was another modest disappointment to add to the modest disappointments of those four unwinnable matches in June, which were summed up by two losses to Hungary, including 4-0 defeat at Molino Which saw fans run to Southgate for the first time.
Southgate suffered more taunts here at the final whistle, despite not being near Molino’s level, from the England fans who sat at the highest level in this historic arena, which is to be demolished and rebuilt. It looks a little jittery at the edges but remains great atmospheric, especially when heavily populated by Italian fans celebrating yet another win over England.
He accepted the disapproval of England fans when he went to acknowledge them after that performance and loss, but hearing that response to a coach who had earned National Champion status after defeat to Italy in the Euro final was a barometer of how the mood was. change.
To balance it, it should be noted that the great Hungary race continued with 1-0 win over Germany in Leipzig Friday. It was not only England that suffered the Hungarians.
It’s been 439 days since England lost on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, and evidence is mounting that they’ve bounced back since then.
Southgate viewed this performance as a step in the right direction, a well-deserved argument only on the grounds that it was nowhere near as bluff as the disaster against Hungary, but the rationale that this time wasn’t quite as bad as the last one doesn’t hold much. Currency.
England’s form has fallen off a cliff at the worst possible time, and this race in performance is deeply troubling as the days before the World Cup draw close.
One of Southgate’s most serious concerns is the lack of goals in the England squad. According to sports data provider Opta, it has now been 495 minutes since they scored from open play, when Raheem Sterling scored in 3-0 win over Ivory Coast in March.
England depended heavily on captain Harry Kane before their power evaporated and he now has more responsibility in Qatar.
Sterling was weak here, and while Phil Foden was checking in on it and Jack Grealish at least upped his pace when he came on as a substitute, it was still Kane who seriously tested Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma with a quick two-way effort of late, the only other Italy to come alert When Judd Bellingham headed in the last seconds.
England offered mitigating conditions for fatigue during the June meltdown, but this was a below-record offer even as the players just started their domestic season and had their sights set on the World Cup.
There was little spark around England, and little intent to stand up to an Italy side undergoing what captain Leonardo Bonucci called a “rebirth”.
England lacked any rhythm, despite Declan Rice and Bellingham’s double in midfield. Bukayo Saka’s questionable award was for his selection as the country’s best player before the game in the unusual role of left-back. It’s not a job for him, and there should have been sympathy in all respects for the talented youngster at Arsenal when he was substituted.
Southgate and England need to rediscover what they lost and quickly, with their World Cup opener against Iran – the same Iran that beat Uruguay 1-0 in a friendly on Friday – kicks off on November 21.
England can afford no mistakes in a group that also includes the United States and Wales, who will be at the leash to join Southgate’s team in their current position.
Their fate in the Nations League may be decided when they face Germany at Wembley on Monday, but that is now of even greater importance as Southgate and England arguably need something that offers optimism and hope as an alternative to the tepid fixed prices offered in the UK. Milan.
England lacks shape and direction and there are plenty of places under discussion where all plans have to be formalized with only one game to play.
Brentford’s Evan Toni, surprisingly left out of the England match squad here, should definitely get a chance for some description against Germany. If he doesn’t, he’s making fun of him Team selection.
Southgate insisted it was hard for him to criticize the performance. Not a problem. Others can do it for him.
He’s not a coach who suspends players to dry out in public, and he’s absolutely right, but England have done so poorly, so it’s troubling when put in the context of the World Cup, that criticism is inevitable and well deserved after this latest loss.
Not good enough.