England secured top spot in their Euro 2020 group with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic last Tuesday but apart from the opening 20 minutes, could you say that was a performance worthy of being billed as one of the tournaments favourites?
There was a marginal improvement from their dismal display against Scotland, however the issues remain present.
This is one of the most talented group of England players in a generation, particularly in the forward options. But this potential is being stifled by the incompetent and negative tactics from Gareth Southgate.
Southgate has been in charge since 2017 and yet still seems afraid to let England off the leash with his continued use of two defensive midfielders.
Playing Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice together has caused a lack of pace and creativity in the side with the two of them preferring to pass sideways or backwards rather than looking to get the ball forward quickly. England should not be fearing sides like Scotland and the Czech Republic.
Many fans have been calling for Jack Grealish to come into the starting eleven to give England that spark and imagination that they’ve been sorely lacking. He got his chance on Tuesday night and was one of England’s better performers, setting up Raheem Sterling with a beautifully weighted cross.
But Southgate was forced into that change as Mason Mount had to self isolate after coming into contact with Scotland’s Billy Gilmour, who had tested positive for COVID-19. Had this not happened, we would have probably seen the same eleven he picked in the previous game.
His use of Jadon Sancho has also been odd as the Dortmund winger has only had six minutes game time so far, despite an impressive season in Germany with 16 goals and 20 assists in all competitions.
With a crunch game against Germany on the horizon in the last 16, England have the quality to beat them but it remains to be seen whether Southgate sticks with Grealish in the side or reverts back to type.
Based on his decision making in the past games it is more likely to be the latter.
It would be a shame for the likes of Phil Foden, Grealish and Sancho to not replicate their club form for their country due to having a manager that is more afraid of losing than going on the offensive. These players deserve better than that, and so do the fans.
News that Southgate is likely to be offered a new contract doesn’t sit well, but that’s the England national team all over.