Gareth Southgate learns a lot from England’s promising win in Holland
England still need to be more clinical but looked confident in possession.
Gareth Southgate learned a lot from England’s promising win in Holland as his side played with “real energy and vibrancy” despite star turn Harry Kane’s absence.
World Cup preparations stepped up a gear on Friday against one of the most notable absentees from this summer’s finals as an experimental Three Lions dominated Ronald Koeman’s underwhelming Oranje at the Amsterdam ArenA.
England still need to be more clinical but looked confident in possession, with the attack-minded defence spreading their wings and the team looking self-assured on the ball all the way to auditioning goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
First win over the Netherlands for almost 2️⃣2️⃣ years ☑️— England (@England) March 23, 2018
Starting 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣ right. pic.twitter.com/u68jfvEem3
Jesse Lingard’s first international goal eventually secured a 1-0 win on a night that gave Southgate plenty of food for thought ahead of Tuesday’s Wembley friendly against Italy – the final match before the World Cup squad is named.
“We learned several things, really,” the England manager said. “There were a number of players in positions we wanted to have a look at.
“Kyle Walker in a back three, Raheem (Sterling) as one of two forwards, Alex (Oxlade-Chamberlain) in a midfield role that – although he is playing (there) for his club – hasn’t played with us up until now.
“Jesse Lingard as an eight as well, so, yeah, really pleased with the performance and the composure with which we played.”
Marcus Rashford did well in attack with Sterling as England won a high-profile friendly at the sixth time of asking under Southgate.
The Three Lions have put in impressive displays during that run but failed to eke out a win, with a lack of attacking fluidity stark in November’s goalless home draws against Germany and Brazil.
Leading man Kane was missed in those friendlies and was absent again in Holland through injury, but Southgate’s side fared much better going forwards.
“He’s obviously an outstanding player and any team in pretty much world football would want his goalscoring ability within them,” he said of Kane.
“But we’ve had to cope without Harry in the past and who knows you might have games in the future where that’s going to be the case.
“So, it’s really important that we have options in those areas.
“I thought Marcus and Raheem were a real threat. Their pace was a problem, their movement was good, so we played with a real energy and vibrancy.”
Kane’s leadership has also been important during Southgate’s reign, leading many to tip the Tottenham front man to skipper his county in Russia.
Jordan Henderson looks his closest rival for the role and the midfielder was praised after impressing in the Dutch capital as he led the side out for a fifth time.
“I think we know about all the leaders in the group,” Southgate said.
“With Jordan, obviously he’s one of the few guys that captains his club or has captained his club so he’s comfortable in that role.
“He’s comfortable in speaking up for the group. He has a mindset for the collective, not just self and that’s obviously a hugely important attribute for a captain to have.
“I thought he worked the game out very well today.
“He spotted the tactical changes, he was the one sort of talking to others, talking others through on where they needed to press.
“So, he’s got some tremendous human qualities I think, and he is a certain leader of men.”