On Friday, England will host their Northern rivals Scotland at Wembley in the 4th World Cup Qualifier. The result will define how the English national team go forward and ultimately seal Gareth Southgate’s fate as England’s head coach.
OFFICIAL: Gareth Southgate announces the England squad to face Scotland and Spain. pic.twitter.com/NEWJ2o5U9f— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) November 6, 2016
After a poor Euro’s and well-documented changes in management, England have become trapped in a bubble of transition, unable to break free and move forward.
For a long time, it felt like Leeds had lost their way; sacking manager left, right and centre. Poor transfer deals and fans divided because of controversial ownership left us all fearing the worse for our club.
Move forward 6 months and we have a young, forward thinking management team breathing new life throughout the whole of Elland Road.
BREAKING: Gareth Southgate will be named England manager later this week. [Telegraph]— Transfer Related (@TransferRelated) November 8, 2016
If the England management and coaching staff are allowed to implement a new and viable regime throughout the various structures within the national side, I am certain we will see a positive shift in the English national team fortunes also. These changes are the single most important process required at St. George’s Park.
However, I also feel with football politics taking centre stage off the pitch, performances on the pitch have been affected. We currently sit top of the group and are currently unbeaten and I honestly believe we will continue the lead the group come Saturday morning.
However, as a major footballing nation, the manner of the victory goes hand in hand with the result. Scotland will provide a sterner test, mainly due to the history surrounding the fixture, and a negative result could damage an already wounded animal.
I hope Gareth Southgate’s focus is firmly on winning in style, rather than just nicking the victory and guaranteeing his job permanently based on the quality of players at his disposal.
We need to see the Southgate blueprint throughout the game on Friday night.
And Then, There’s Friendly Spain
Next Tuesday, England will then welcome a Spain side that are in the process of finding their feet and look like they regaining their status as a top team within international football.
The game will be played under the pretence of a friendly, but the quality of the squad ensures the game will be played at an intense level. I expect, if England beat Spain next Tuesday, pandemonium will engulf the whole nation and all the concerns expressed over the last few months will be replaced with a sense of deluded hysteria.
A victory against Spain would certainly cement Garth Southgate tenure’s, but expectations would need to be managed going forward.
The England national team is often its own worst enemy by not looking at the wider picture. We often define England by victories obtained sporadically but if we are to challenge in Russia in two years’ time we need to be playing positive and forward thinking football continually leading up to the World Cup, or else history is sure to repeat itself again.
We beat Germany just before the Euro’s in a friendly... look how much that benefited us when it came to the tournament.
daily reminder iceland eliminated england from the 2016 euros— systom s@dmin (@_tomtomato) November 5, 2016
Overall, when the players return to their parent clubs on Wednesday, the face of English football will be completely different. Both games will play a pivotal part in the future of English football and I expect we will look back at the next week as the defining moment in our attempt to qualify.
Whatever the outcome, the FA needs to implement a new philosophy quickly to allow the squad to grow and develop to take the footballing world by storm in June 2018... and hopefully bring football home again.