Southgate is excited by the threat of Alli and Lallana
Gareth Southgate believes Dele Alli and Adam Lallana’s energy and attacking threat offers England a “very exciting” option moving forward.
Lukas Podolski’s stunning strike on his 130th and final Germany appearance secured the hosts a 1-0 win on Wednesday night, but the world champions were fortunate to emerge unscathed against the Three Lions.
An all too familiar lack of cutting edge cost England in Dortmund, although Southgate was proud of his side’s display in a bold, attack-minded side built upon a three-man backline.
Jamie Vardy epitomised the visitors’ aggressive intent, but it was Alli and Lallana’s pressing and movement that really caught the eye in Germany.
“I think Dele and Adam — and Jesse (Lingard) as well — are fantastic at finding space between that line, between the midfield and defence of the opposition,” manager Southgate said after his first match since taking the reins permanently.
“But they are also brilliant at sensing the right moments to press and win the ball.
“I think in the past maybe creative players haven’t always had the work ethic those two have. You know, they cover a phenomenal amount of distance and that allows you to get pressure on the opposition.
“It is not as if we are carrying those creative players. They put in as much as work as everybody else. I think it is very exciting for what we can do moving forwards.”
The manner of performance and type of player required for that system raises questions about how Wayne Rooney would fit into Southgate’s thinking.
Meanwhile, the three-man defence looked promising despite there being precious little time on the training field to perfect it, with Michael Keane impressing on his debut alongside Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill.
“We had to be a bit creative in how we did it,” the England boss said with a smile as he explained how he drilled the team.
“We couldn’t train on the field too many times but we were able to walk through certain things. We were able to have meetings and work through things on tactic boards and discuss things and get the players’ experiences from their clubs.
“It wasn’t an alien system in terms of several of the players were playing in it and I felt it suited others that aren’t.
“Central midfield players it is the same, and I think it is a perfect system for the likes of Lallana and Alli, who are both very, very intelligent players, and it allowed us to press high up the pitch.
“I have seen Germany pin teams back and you end up with six at the back with the system we played in the past.
“I didn’t want to sit there and take pressure all night. We wanted to be on the front foot in the way that we pressed and that system allowed us to do that.
“Again, the intelligence in the way we pressed, particularly the front three, created the good chances we had.”
England’s attention now turns to Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.
Southgate’s players stayed overnight in Essen after the friendly and used the training complex at 2. Bundesliga side Bochum before heading home from Germany.
Cahill, the Three Lions’ captain at Signal Iduna Park, will miss Sunday’s match at Wembley through suspension and, despite Phil Jones’ withdrawal with a toe injury, Southgate has yet to decide on any changes to his squad.
“Not sure yet,” the England boss added after the match. “We’ll just assess over the next 24 hours if we have picked up any other knocks.
“I am not aware of anything significant at the moment so if that is the case we wouldn’t.”