England is only one game into Russia 2018, but let’s get Three Lions fans dreaming with five reasons why Gareth Southgate’s men can win the World Cup
1 – Harry Kane
One thinks of Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Michael Owen or Wayne Rooney when speaking about an English striker. And now Harry Kane. Tottenham’s number 10 is the Three Lions’ skipper and has already netted twice in the World Cup. Very few sides in the tournament can boast a better centre-forward, and it is fair to say, that after dominating in the Premier League, he is peaking at international level too. With Kane scoring in every game, England will only have to focus on not conceding and can reach any objective.
2 – Low expectations
The “Golden Generation” was ultimately a failure, despite the quantity of great, experienced players that England had from the mid-90s to the 2010s. The press destroyed them, crushed by the difference in expectations and results.
Inevitably, this national team is under a lot less pressure, with a young coach, a lot of new players and lessons learned from recent tournaments. Low expectations, more satisfaction: it’s a rule for anything in life, and this time around it could be the key to England’s success.
3 – Guardiola’s men
A man like Pep Guardiola can revolutionise not only the team he coaches but also a whole footballing nation. He did so in Spain, via Barcelona, continuing the work of Johann Cruyff, and in doing so at Manchester City. Within two seasons he built a “best Premier League side ever” candidate and won the title.
The Spaniard improved a number of players, including some key men for Gareth Southgate. Raheem Sterling and John Stones are above everyone else and Kyle Walker too. The footballers’ growth has been clear and having a block of players knowing sharing the same kind of style, similar also to that of Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham, makes life easier for Southgate in moulding a coherent starting eleven.
4 – Changeable tactics
Having players used to Guardiola and Pochettino means having versatility in the tactics. Mix that with a number of individually diverse players and with a decent squad depth, and you’ve got a team that is not only able to play well with the usual system, but also able to adapt the tactics to the opponent, and to how the individual games are going.
Three at the back, four at the back, three up front, two strikers, a three-man midfield, etcetera. The Three Lions can defend and also try a passing and positional game like that of Manchester City. England can do all these things, and it will be useful to progress as much as possible.
5 – Squad depth
Southgate brought on Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Eric Dier and Marcus Rashford against Tunisia. Three men who would start in most international sides. Jamie Vardy is another option, Gary Cahill was on the bench. Trent Alexander-Arnold has been one of the surprises this season. There are options for Southgate, a squad depth that means if someone is having a bad day another one can come on and give England what they need.