Upon the eve of another English World Cup, it’s time we focus on England’s overall objectives for this summer’s tournament.
I won’t hide from the fact that I questioned the full-time appointment of Gareth Southgate last November. His managerial experience lacked credibility yet somehow he landed his first role at an elite level.
Yet Gareth has impressed me during his first twelve months in charge. The 47-year-old began his temporary reign unbeaten; the highlights being a 3-0 win over Scotland and then drawing 2-2 with Spain – albeit having conceded twice late-on after leading 2-0.
Although, with our World Cup campaign beginning on Monday evening, we should compare whether our dreams match our expectations.
It’s been 52 years since Bobby Moore lifted aloft the Jules Rimet trophy at the Old Wembley. Ever since England supporters have experienced mixed emotions. From a home success to the embarrassment at exiting the 2016 Euros against minnows Iceland, we have experienced it all.
As a result of enduring so much pain and suffering since 1966, a sense of disappointment has been twisted into our genes. As a society, we have become separated from our national side.
We no longer unite as we did when David Beckham curled in that freekick against Greece. How about when we wept alongside Paul Gascoigne when he was booked, meaning he would miss – should England have qualified – the World Cup final?
Now I had not yet been born when Gazza shed those tears, but I understand it as a moment which brought the national team close to our hearts. It proved what playing for your country really meant to the players.
Personally I feel it is less about achieving success but more bringing us closer to our national team, and under Southgate we have done exactly this. He has begun to improve the broken bridges. The constructions torn down by managers such as Sven-Goran Eriksson, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson are being mended.
A clear shift in attitude towards youth players began Southgate’s England revolution. His squad has an average age of 25.5; his most experienced goalkeeper has just nine international caps; three of the squad have won on the youth international stage.
His youthful angle has brought a new style of football to the England set-up, a style which fans adore. Results bring support but so does an entertaining trademark. It would be unrealistic to suggest that the Three Lions will win the trophy in Russia but, if we can get behind the boys in White, then who knows how far we’ll reach. Perhaps we will even reach the knock-out stages!
White Southgate has himself admitted that his England squad is not yet a finished article, he has begun a revolt which will bring us together. Morecambe and Wise; Laurel and Hardy; Batman and Robin. England and it’s fans, we are becoming one once again as a result of our pride being reborn.