England manager Gareth Southgate has received plaudits for a harmonious camp at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Many have remarked how united the players and staff have been, as it was something that wasn’t the case upon his arrival in late-2016.
Southgate joined as England’s third manager in the space of six months. After a disastrous Euro 2016 campaign, Roy Hodgson resigned as manager in June 2016 and was replaced by Sam Allarydce a month later. However, he was sacked two months after his appointment and Southgate was his successor in November.
The mood was grim, the squad was ageing and there didn’t appear to be much talent in the player pool for a successful World Cup campaign. But now there’s genuine hope that England can silence their doubters and enjoy a good international tournament, courtesy of Southgate’s vision and hard work
Injected youth and united the squad
Past England squads have relied too much on ageing players, perhaps due to a lack of competition from those further down the pecking order or because managers feared dropping a player with a big influence in the dressing room. Southgate had no issue removing the ageing players who were surplus to requirements and replaced them with younger talent who have played together in the u21s.
Former England striker Jermaine Defoe revealed to Sky Sports how Southgate has created a bond among the squad, eradicating any cliques that may have formed down the years due to players being at rival clubs. The England manager has drastically lowered the average age and has created an inclusive atmosphere that has stretched to the British media.
Defoe said about Southgate: “It is so good that he is the manager. He is the perfect fit because he knows a lot of players from the Under-21s. There is a different vibe now. It is just banter all the time. It is a group of boys just messing about, but in a good way because there is no pressure on them. It is a completely different atmosphere.”
England’s 23-man squad for the World Cup
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley).
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United).
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea).
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).
England have second youngest squad of all the countries at the World Cup and its bred a fearlessness in their play on the pitch. Southgate has allowed his creative players to express themselves and has left the experienced heads on the bench. The Three Lions boss deserves a lot of credit for overhauling the squad for the better, but time will tell if it aids England to glory in Russia.