5 problems for Gareth Southgate to solve ahead of Euro 2020
The first edition of the UEFA Nation's League finished the way so many competitions seem to in the modern era - with a trophy in the hands of Cristiano Ronaldo as Portugal overcame the challenge of Switzerland and Netherlands to win the inaugural competition.
All the hopes of Gareth Southgate's England winning the competition was ended by defeat in the hands of a much improved Holland side in the semi-final before they secured a third place finish with a penalty shoot-out victory over Switzerland.
Since Southgate took on the role in 2016, it can't be denied that significant progress has been made. Reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup and finishing third in the inaugural Nation's League are undoubtedly fine achievements and represent real progress from the dismal failures of 2014 and 2016.
However, for England to mount a real challenge to win Euro 2020, there are still a number of issues for Southgate to resolve in order to get the best out of his talented squad.
In this article we take a look at the five key problems for Southgate and his coaching team to solve.
#1 Full backs
England played three-at-the-back relatively successfully in Russia but since then Southgate has preferred to field a back four. A poor season for Kieran Trippier at Tottenham has seen him drop out of the international fold for the time being and allowed Kyle Walker to re-establish himself as the first choice right-back. However Walker's position is now under threat from the emerging talent of Trent Alexander Arnold.
Southgate has tended to lean towards Walker's experience so far and the two time Premier League winner rarely lets England down when he is playing in his preferred position.
However, to win the biggest tournaments, you have to be willing to take risks and at some point the manager needs to look beyond Alexander-Arnold's relative lack of experience and recognise that the Liverpool youngster is not only the best English right back, but also one of the best in the world.
On the other side of the pitch, the left back position is one that hasn't been satisfactorily filled since the retirement of Ashley Cole. Leighton Baines, Danny Rose, Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell have all had opportunities to fill the void without ever really making the position their own.
It is great that the manager has viable options in this position but he really needs one of the current crop to stamp their name on it. In this writer's opinion Ben Chilwell seems the best option and I think Southgate is also leaning that way. If that is the case he needs to be given a run of games to feel fully confident in the role.
One other option that may yet emerge is the wildly talented Ryan Sessegnon who has just been relegated with Fulham. But he will need to secure a move to a Premier League side this summer to make it happen.