Gareth Southgate has painted a bleak picture of England’s immediate future and called for a reality check by admitting that the cupboard is bare in terms of new players capable of providing the solution to the team’s problems.
Interim-manager Southgate has taken four points from two games in charge following Sam Allardyce’s departure, with a 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Malta preceding Tuesday’s goalless draw against Slovenia in Ljubljana.
In both games, England struggled to convince against inferior opposition, with the stalemate in Slovenia seeing the team extend its dismal recent run to just four goals in five fixtures.
But with England due to face Scotland at Wembley next month, Southgate claims there are few options outside the current squad who he believes can help the team turn the corner.
“I’m not sure how many players out there who are playing in the league,” Southgate said. “So I think whoever picks the squad – everybody would pick something slightly different – I bet 19 or 20 names would be the same, maybe more.
“So I think we’ve got to have some reality on that.
England player ratings vs Slovenia
England player ratings vs Slovenia
1/11 Joe Hart – 9 out of 10
England’s man of the match on the night. The Torino ‘keeper made a number of fantastic saves included a world-class stop just after half time.
2/11 Kyle Walker – 5 out of 10
Couldn’t get forward as much as he would have liked and didn’t stand out defensively either.
3/11 John Stones – 5 out of 10
Unusually sloppy in possession and never looked completely comfortable when defending Slovenian attacks.
4/11 Gary Cahill – 5 out of 10
In Rooney’s absence was supposed to be one of the leaders in the team but his partnership with Stones is still lacking understanding.
5/11 Danny Rose – 5 out of 10
A couple of attacking forays but also left exposed defensively once or twice.
6/11 Eric Dier – 4 out of 10
Another guilty of losing possession too easily and nearly gifted the hosts an opening goal.
7/11 Jordan Henderson – 5 out of 10
Not the all-action performance we saw against Malta but not for the lack of trying. Unclear whether he is England’s long-term leader.
8/11 Dele Alli – 6 out of 10
Tried to create and was England’s best attacking outlet but was missing that final ball on a couple of occasions.
9/11 Jesse Lingard – 5 out of 10
Didn’t see much of the ball but never stopped running. Moved more centrally when Alli went off and had more of an influence.
10/11 Theo Walcott – 3 out of 10
Another below-par display before he was replaced by Townsend. Will have to keep up his Arsenal form if he is going to be picked for the next squad.
11/11 Daniel Sturridge – 5 out of 10
Had a couple of half chances but was mainly restricted to long-range efforts and his decision making was poor at times.
“I don’t think any of the Under-21s are ready to move up just yet, but the likes of Jesse Lingard, who has come in and had two very good games for his first two games at this level, that’s been a plus.”
Southgate was without the injured Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Harry Kane for the games against Malta and Slovenia, with Tottenham forward Kane the only player likely to face a race against time to be fit for the Scotland clash on November 11.
With Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley both failing to make the full squad this season, Southgate admits both could return to the fold if they prove their form and fitness this month.
“I think it gives me a chance to go and watch them play a bit more and to see where they are at,” he said. “Obviously both get more football in the next month and Jack, in particular, who hasn’t had too many 90 minutes.
“They are the things that it will be good to see because I have had to pick up information from other people.”
Scotland’s 3-0 defeat against Slovakia on Tuesday, three days after a costly home draw against Lithuania, have placed Gordon Strachan and his players under huge pressure ahead of next month’s trip to Wembley.
And with his hopes of securing the manager’s job on a permanent basis potentially hinging on a positive result against Scotland, Southgate admits it is a crucial game for both teams.
“I’ve never known an England/ Scotland game to be other than that, so I think the group an interesting one,” Southgate said.
“Everybody was thinking Slovakia would be the toughest opponent in this group, but I’m not so sure about that.
“I think Slovenia have got some good footballers playing in Italy and they used the ball well.”Reuse content