Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Gareth Southgate remains positive despite England's lack of flair

Gareth Southgate remains positive despite England's lack of flair

The manager moved away from a back four to a back three but it was more of the same from England as they struggled to carve open a side who now sit 105 places below them in the world rankings.

A look around the other qualifying groups emphasises the disparity between England's potency and that of the European teams they will join in Russian Federation next year.

The murmurs of England fans on Thursday night were enough to leave us all feeling relatively pessimistic for Russian Federation next summer, so what hope is there? We were still open in Lithuania with three [at the back], so we will benefit if we don't keep turning the ball over ... It's a win to finish off the group, it's been a good campaign for us and now we move on. Then in front there is a possibility to switch; maybe get two strikers in certain games. But I think three at the back is what we ought to do'.

Southgate's side will take on Germany and Brazil next month to continue preparations for the tournament in Russian Federation. His midfield is lacking in quality and the defenders available to him do not have the stature of their recent predecessors.

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England boss Gareth Southgate admitted his side's latest underwhelming showing would do little to stem the tide of indifference which is engulfing the national team after their World Cup qualification campaign ended with victory in Lithuania.

"It is the first time I can ever remember them heading into a World Cup with such an absence of belief", he told The Daily Mail. Things turned out rather better this time around. "It's something we can work on and get better at".

But, equally, all of those players have experience of playing in a similar arrangement for their clubs, so the benefit of 90 minutes on an artificial pitch against a side only kept off the bottom of the group by Malta will be minimal.

This, insisted Southgate, is not something he has arrived at suddenly. Hopefully when we do it's going to be an asset to us.

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"We have some young players who are able to use the ball", said Southgate.

Giggs said too many players retreat into their shells when they pull on the England shirt.

He added that he would persist with the 3-4-3 formation tested out in Vilnius.

"And they are passing it 10 yards to someone who passes it 10 yards to someone who passes it 10 yards to someone who goes backwards".

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That quartet will certainly need to raise their game if they are to take the heat off Kane.

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