England boss Gareth Southgate tells his World Cup players to dream of glory
The team leave for Russia on Tuesday.
Gareth Southgate is trying to make the “impossible seem possible” by encouraging England to dream and embrace the challenge that lies ahead at the World Cup.
Anticipation is building as the Three Lions prepare to jet off to Russia following two comfortable, injury-free friendly wins and a preparation camp that has been striking in its togetherness, positivity and humility.
It is a promising young squad that will be led by star turn Harry Kane, who expressed his belief that England can win the World Cup just hours after being announced as captain for the summer.
A very proud day. It means a lot to me to be named @England captain. A massive thanks to family, friends and fans who have supported me through thick and thin. 🦁🦁🦁 #EnglandCaptain #ThreeLions pic.twitter.com/afncNkoVnd— Harry Kane (@HKane) May 22, 2018
That epitomises the “no limits” phrase often heard around the camp and Southgate is trying to bring such confidence out of his players.
“Why would I limit what they feel is possible?” the England manager asked.
“My job is to allow people to dream. What’s the saying? ‘Make the impossible seem possible.’
“They are at an age and a hunger, and have an enthusiasm and no little quality, so that they can certainly keep improving.
“But we have got to improve to reach the latter stages of a tournament and that is going to take a lot of work over the next few weeks and a huge commitment, but I am seeing evidence that they’re embracing that challenge.”
England have shown quality and kinship during preparations, with Southgate pleased by the way his players are buying into the way he wants to work.
“I think that’s allowing us to create an environment where they’re actually having a go at things we’re asking them to do, when sometimes I think, ‘They’re never going to go for this’,” the Three Lions boss said.
“They’re at times painstakingly putting up with some of the things I throw their way, so that I think would be more difficult with older players, I have to say.
“They’d possibly be a little less malleable and a little less open to new suggestions, but they really are having a go at everything and I think they are keen to show people how much it means to them to play for England.
“I think you’re starting to hear some of their own stories and background, which I think is really important.
“And we’re all England fans. You’ve seen pictures of them and I am the same.
“I’ve got a picture of myself in the shirt from 82 at home. I am lucky that there’s some of me in a shirt playing and now I am proud to lead the team, so it goes right through the group and we’re really looking forward to going.
“I’ve said to them, we’re going to attack the tournament.”
Southgate relishes the fact he and his staff “have to be on it” every day, pointing to the high levels demanded by players used to working with “some of the top coaches in the world”.
Yet there remains a “hunger and thirst” to improve within the squad, whether that is on a physical, tactical or body movement front.
“Any meeting receives a certain sort of look,” Southgate said with a laugh. “But we’re asking them to open up quite a bit on their own feelings about things.
“We’ve obviously discussed the possible situation over racism, which was certainly an important connection between the team.
“I think we’ve got to follow some of that up, really, because I think there’s more to talk through.
“We asked them to open tactical discussions, which in fairness I know they’ve done for a while. But they know that they can have an input.”
Southgate believes that helps brings a “closer connection” on the pitch as well as away from it, meaning there appears little chance of club cliques harming things for England like in years gone by.
“The past can help us and inform us, but it shouldn’t shape us,” the former defender said. “We’ve got to be our own team.
“This is a diverse team with different sets of skills and they’ve got a chance to make their own history.
“Whenever you’re in an England shirt you have an opportunity to make history.”