The 2018 World Cup in Russia will live long in the memories of many English fans. They went above and beyond all expectations that were cast upon them prior to the tournament and unfortunately fell short right at the end. England’s progress has made a clear statement of intent and the nation will now raise their expectations for future success. Gareth Southgate will, therefore, have to build on what he’s established and set England up for a promising future.
Kieran Trippier (left) celebrates his World Cup semi-final opener (NESN)
Gareth Southgate’s job will become very difficult in the coming years but it will also be a very exciting opportunity for him as a manager. England’s youth success has been astronomical in the past few years winning the U20 World Cup, U19 European Championships, and the U17 World Cup. The England boss is now tasked with ensuring that this success is carried through to the first team and that he brings in the right youngsters at the right time and gives them the right amount of opportunities. This may require Southgate to drop an older, more experienced player that might even be better than a youngster who has bags of potential. We’ve already seen this with the retirements of Jamie Vardy and Gary Cahill who have both mutually agreed to withdraw themselves from squad selection. So, how should Southgate handle this issue?
Despite all this, Southgate should still be prioritising current success over future success and he’s voiced this opinion publicly in the media. This means that he needs to be selecting a 23-man squad that includes at least two first-choice goalkeepers, seven or eight first-choice defenders, four or five first-choice midfielders and three first-choice attackers. This would mean he needs to have between 16 and 18 of his 23 man-squad as players who are already playing at the top level. The remaining 5-7 players can be where Southgate selects a few senior players who are very important to have in the changing room like Joe Hart, Fabian Delph, Ashley Young, etc. but also an opportunity to select a few youngsters and give them a taste of what it’s like to be around the first-team, to train at St. George’s Park and play at the highest level on the international stage. So, let’s take a look at who these players might be.
England players celebrate their U20 World Cup triumph (Sky News)
Which youngsters could make the cut?
Jadon Sancho (Winger-Borussia Dortmund): The 18-year-old ex-Manchester City winger has begun to excel in the Bundesliga. He made 12 appearances last season for Dortmund and was part of the 2017 U17-World Cup winning squad in India. He’s impressed heavily and has been mentioned recently as a possible candidate for England first-team duty. However, Southgate hasn’t favoured wingers in his system which was evident when he forced Sterling to play as a second striker to Harry Kane during the World Cup.
Jadon Sancho (right) in Borussia Dortmund training (Mirror)
Phil Foden (Midfielder-Manchester City): Foden won the Golden Ball in the U17-World Cup and bagged a brace in the final during England’s 5-2 triumph over Spain. He hasn’t been given a great number of opportunities at Manchester City but Guardiola has spoken highly of the youngster and decided against loaning him out for the 2018-19 season. He is an exciting prospect who could help bring more creativity to this England side in the future.
Ryan Sessegnon (Winger-Fulham): The 2017/18 Championship player of the year has struggled to carry his form into the Premier League and as a result has been dropped to the bench by Jokanovic. However, he has shown promising signs and his form says nothing about his ability. He’d have a similar problem to Sancho in terms of positioning but would likely fall back to a left-wing back role assumed by Ashley Young at the World Cup.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (Winger-Chelsea): Chelsea’s new manager, Sarri, was very keen to keep the youngster at the club for this season despite heavy interest from other clubs for a loan move. He’s shown unbelievable amounts of quality in the youth leagues and will hopefully break into not only the England first-team but also the Chelsea first-team in the coming years. His attacking versatility would allow Southgate to play him as a forward or out wide if he is to change his system.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (right) on the ball for Chelsea in the FA Community Shield (Mirror)
Mason Mount (Midfielder-Derby County): Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard brought the midfielder on loan to Derby following his appointment in the summer of 2018. Mount has already repaid the faith shown by his idol by bagging two goals including one on his debut. Chelsea’s youth academy continues to produce talent and will surely be rewarding for England in the coming years.
Southgate’s Big Decision
Gareth Southgate will meet a major crossroads in the coming months. He has a wide range of talented players already performing at the top level and is struggling to fit all of them alone into his 23-man squad. On top of that, he now has the added pressure to promote youth development at an international level so finding the right balance in the squad will be perfect.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (left) and Dele Alli (right) at the World Cup for England (Zimbio)
It’s important to remember that Southgate has already got some youngsters in his team that are playing first-team football. Players like Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dele Alli, Joe Gomez, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling. All of them can be further developed and will have many years to come playing for England.
Joe Gomez (left) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (right) in action for Liverpool (The Anfield Wrap)
So, does Southgate trust his current youngsters who are performing at club-level and showing that they already have the quality to play on the big stage? Or, does he opt to go for a more riskier path by putting faith in some of the England U20 players and hope that their experience of international glory can push the first team down the same road.
The FA seems very confident in Southgate’s ability as England manager and while there is some pressure on him to deliver success, he’s in a similar place to Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. They both have shown clear intentions to develop a project and aim for success in the future but first, they have to build the foundations of the team. Southgate is a very intelligent manager and is likely to retain his job for many years to come. Let us know what you think regarding Southgate’s dilemma and England’s future by tweeting @AllOutFootball_ using #AOF.