Inevitably, teams end up taking on the personality and temperament of a talented coach/manager, which in the case of the England squad competing at the 2018 World Cup, is a massive compliment to the Three Lions’ current boss, Gareth Southgate.
Southgate, who’s 47 and only four tournaments removed from his second and final World Cup appearance for England, has changed the outside world’s perception of an institution that once seemed arrogant, elitist and entitled, opting to take one of the youngest squads (average age: 25.6 years old) to Russia, and to turn them loose.
On Monday, it was 24-year-old Harry Kane who scored twice and bailed the feel-good favorites out of jail with a 91st-minute winner (WATCH HERE) to largely erase the frustrating hour which preceded it. These growing pains are, of course, to be expected with so little major tournament experience. Southgate, as expected, was pleased with how they responded — quotes from the BBC:
“I was happy with the way we kept playing even though the clock was running down. We stayed patient, we didn’t just throw the ball in the box. We deserved the win.
“We created so many clear-cut chances, especially in the first half, and were in total control in the second half. We were strong on set plays all night. Even if we’d drawn, we‘d have been proud of the performance.
“We’ll do well to make as many chances in a game again in this tournament. The movement, pace, control from the back with the ball was pleasing. We wore them down. Good teams score late goals — if you dominate the ball like that the opposition tire.
“As for Harry Kane the only thing he hasn’t done now is score in August — he’s moved every other barrier. He will feel pride of leading a country to a World Cup win is the most important thing.”
“The way we would change the game is to have different profiles of players that would provide a different threat. You can put attacking players in different positions but lose shape and be caught on the counter-attack.
“The guys that came on had a different threat. As a team you keep working and working. The best teams in the world keep the belief in what they’re doing and in the end break teams down.”