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Why Gareth Southgate's England should abandon their conservatism

England currently boasts a wealth of attacking talents
England currently boasts a wealth of attacking talents
Modified 28 Mar 2021

England have made a fine start to their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign but have not won a major trophy in quite a while.

Their sole World Cup triumph came over five and a half decades ago before they came within two wins of repeating that at Russia 2018.

Arriving with a team of hungry young players and a coach desperate for success, England made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, where they were eliminated by a better Croatia side.

Gareth Southgate’s side eventually finished fourth in the tournament. But they’ve kept their core together, which should augur well for their hopes of winning the Euros this summer and the World Cup next year.

England’s wealth of attacking talent

England currently have one of the best squads in the world. The competitiveness and pedigree of the Premier League mean the Three Lions have been able to produce a plethora of quality homegrown players. If that was not enough, England also have a few layers which are doing well in the other top European leagues.

The wealth of attacking talent at Southgate’s disposal is truly impressive. The England manager has a tough job of selecting his preferred front four.

There is Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford battling for the right-wing spot, while Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka are also fighting to start at the right-wing position.


In the no. 10 role, James Maddison, Mason Mount and the in-form Jesse Lingard are all available, while Harry Kane is ably backed by Ollie Watkins, Dominic Calvert Lewin and Tammy Abraham in the striker position.

Even in the full-back positions, Southgate is spoilt for choice. Reece James, Kieran Trippier, Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell are fighting for a spot in the first team, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are not even in their latest squad.

England boast enormous attacking talents, and their current crop has the quality to dominate the game for the next decade or so.

Gareth Southgate shouldn't continue playing defensive football

Considering the attacking talent at his disposal, Gareth Southgate should not continue playing a conservative style of football.

The former Aston Villa and Crystal Palace manager has done a great job since becoming the Three Lions' boss. But his record in the big games is not convincing enough, as England rarely play on the offensive against A-list opponents.


In his four years at the England helm, Gareth Southgate has shown that he is a pragmatist. And despite the amount of attacking talent in the team, there is a sense that these players are massively underutilised.

It is almost sacrilegious for any manager to have this much talent in their team and still opt to play defensively. Southgate may have gotten off the hook in recent times, but the pressure will soon start mounting if the team’s playing style remains conservative.

A semi-final berth at the 2018 FIFA World Cup is a commendable feat. But there is a lot more the 50-year-old Southgate can achieve with the current England squad. He certainly has the personnel and the quality to deliver better results if only he gives his team the licence to play more attacking football.

Published 28 Mar 2021, 15:54 IST
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