Matt Lawton says he has to admire what Gareth Southgate is doing as England manager and the new systems he is implementing
England are embarking on a new era under Gareth Southgate where the emphasis is being placed on blooding young players, according to the Sunday Supplement panel.
Southgate fielded five England debutants in the 0-0 draw against Germany on Friday night, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jordan Pickford standing out with their contributions, while Joe Gomez, Tammy Abraham and Jack Cork also featured.
The Three Lions manager only has three more games before he selects his squad for the World Cup in Russia – with two further friendlies coming next year in March – but his bold approach of experimenting with youth is a departure from the uninspiring World Cup qualification campaign.
“I really admire what he’s doing,” said Matt Lawton, Chief Sports Reporter at the Daily Mail. “He was quite pragmatic in how he finished off the qualifying campaign, and then he’s immediately torn up the whole blueprint, started again with a new system and new players.
“I thought the way he’s just dropped Chris Smalling was brutal but when you see [Harry] Maguire and [John] Stones playing you think it’s starting to make sense. He’s got a very set idea of how he wants to do it in Russia. It may blow up in his face, but at least he can go there and say he’s done it the way he wants to.
“The worrying thing about Loftus-Cheek is that he’s only played 12 top flight games in his whole career and suddenly we feel he’s the answer.
“But when we’ve been sitting watching England for however long thinking, ‘this is so stagnant and uninspiring’, he comes along and he impresses. You have to admire Southgate.”
England have called up Dominic Solanke and Lewis Cook for Tuesday’s friendly against Brazil while Angus Gunn, on loan at Norwich, was brought into the squad on Friday to replace Stoke’s Jack Butland.
Cook’s call-up is significant given his former Bournemouth team-mate Jack Wilshere is fit and available, but Southgate has once more stuck to his principle of promoting those who have recently impressed at junior level.
The FA have been keen to develop a pathway to the senior team since the birth of the England DNA blueprint in 2015, which was designed to identify the country’s best talent whilst lightening the burden of wearing the shirt.
Sam Wallace, Chief Football Writer at The Telegraph, added: “Southgate started at the FA as a de facto technical director before going on to take charge of the Under 21s and now he’s the senior manager.
“What you’re now seeing is a determination that even if the English clubs are not going to pick English players, the FA are going to progress them as quickly as they can if they do well for the junior age group teams. All three of these players [Solanke, Cook and Gunn] have done well.
“It’s an interesting debate that Cook has been selected in front of Wilshere. [Southgate] is not going back to the same old players.
“Daniel Sturridge is not getting a call-up, he’s very much putting the accent on young players. It’s bold, and whether it works or not is another matter, but it certainly is a new era. It’s something different, something we’ve not seen before.”