Gareth Southgate’s England side suffered humiliating Nations League relegation after their loss to Italy. This once again puts a doubt on their status as the World Cup favorites this year. Fans and football experts in England have been furious over Southgate’s tactics.
England suffered a 1-0 defeat against Italy on Friday night as they got relegated to the second tier of the Nations League. This means that England will start their next Nations League campaign in Tier B. It was a seriously poor performance against a weak Italy side who haven’t even qualified for the World Cup.
The team has been unable to win the last five of their games. Moreover, they have been unable to score from open play in any of those matches. In fact, England last scored from open play in their 3-0 win over Ivory Coast in March.
England’s goal-scoring troubles
“It’s really difficult to pinpoint why we’re not scoring because I think we’re getting into the right areas,” Gareth Southgate told reporters.
“We had the moments that we had in the past. We just didn’t deliver the final piece of quality tonight.”
“I understand the reaction at the end because that’s the results we’ve had in this competition, and yeah, it’s an understandable emotional reaction.”
Napoli striker Giacomo Raspadori scored for Italy to put them ahead in the game. It turned out to be the only goal in the game. Italy are now hoping to make it to the Nations League final four.
Roberto Mancini’s side will be hoping for a small boost after missing out on a second straight World Cup. On the other hand, England will next face Germany on Tuesday in their last match before the World Cup begins.
“It’s difficult for me to be too difficult of the performance, we had more possession, more shots, more shots on target, I think for large parts of the game, we played very well,” said Southgate.
“We didn’t deal with the decisive moment defensively, and we had moments where we had the chance to be more decisive in their final third where our quality just wasn’t quite right,” he added.
“Of course, results are going to be the thing everyone reacts to, but I thought there were a lot of positives for us as a team. But I completely understand because of the result that is not going to be the reaction externally.”
The Three Lions undoubtedly have a large plethora of talented players, but it seems Southgate is having a hard time figuring out how to best use them. Despite having plenty of attacking players England have been heavily relying on their captain Harry Kane for scoring responsibilities.
It was not so long ago when Italy beat England over penalties in the Euro 2020 finals. England were considered favorites for winning the trophy at that time. They have only gone in the reverse direction since that loss.
Tactical flaws against Italy
In Friday’s match against Italy, Southgate deployed Bukayo Saka as a wing-back, ahead of Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell. It wasn’t really a good decision, given they have just one match remaining before the start of the World Cup.
Saka was crowned as England’s Player of the Year just before this match. He surely deserved to play in his original position and would have created more chances for the team.
Harry Maguire has been out of favor under new manager Erik Ten Hag at Manchester United. The defender’s woes have been quite evident, but Southgate seems to want to stick with Maguire. He’s done little to help himself as he couldn’t provide solidity to England’s defense.
On a positive note, Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham were the two players who impressed everyone with their performance. Foden was England’s most dangerous player on the night, constantly trying to create chances for the team.
Bellingham, on the other hand, has shown his worthiness of why he is more suited to partner with Declan Rice in the midfield.
Southgate under pressure
Southgate is under immense pressure as it wasn’t too long ago when England were on the verge of creating history. Now though, they’ve seemed to have fallen down hard.
Gareth Southgate was booed by the fans back in June when they were defeated 4-0 by Hungary in the Nations League. It was the same atmosphere in the stadium after their relegation from the Nations League.
Fans have been furious over England’s recent performances, with many asking for Southgate to step down as the manager. Southgate clearly has lots to think about over the weekend.