Gareth Southgate reveals what he discovered from England’s November double-header
The Euro 2020 runners-up are among the many favourites to win in Germany subsequent summer season however appeared to lose their edge after sealing qualification with two matches to spare.
Friday’s uninspiring 2-0 Wembley win towards minnows Malta was adopted three days later by an underwhelming 1-1 attract North Macedonia because the curtain got here down on an undefeated 12 months.
November’s double-header is not going to stay lengthy within the reminiscence however Southgate has “learned a lot” from the fixtures, with consideration now intensifying on his fourth – and probably ultimate – main event within the dugout.
“We wanted to look at a few different things as well, so we’ve managed to learn from the game as well as the result,” the England boss stated in Skopje.
“I have to be pleased with the progress of the team. You know, if you’d said at the start of the campaign that we would be eight wins, two draws at the end of the year, it’s a pretty good record given the fixtures that we’ve had.
“(North Macedonia) was always a game where we knew if you’d needed to come here for that point to qualify would be a very difficult place to come. They took the draw from Italy as well, so credit to North Macedonia for that.
“We can now start to look forward. We’ve got these two exciting games in March to look forward to and prepare for.
“So, yeah, I think we’ve done a lot of things well, but there’s always room for improvement.”
March’s residence friendlies towards Brazil and Belgium will present much-needed challenges within the ultimate meet-up earlier than Southgate selects his 23-man squad for Germany.
Two additional preparation video games will observe earlier than the Euros get below approach, with the December 2 draw in Hamburg offering readability on subsequent summer season’s opposition, base camp and potential path to the ultimate.
England’s draw towards Macedonia rubber-stamped their place among the many high seeds for the Euro 2024 draw and Southgate stated: “In the calendar year we’re eight wins and two draws from a particularly tough qualifying group and certainly a friendly in Scotland that was always going to be challenging.
“Of course, you’d like 10 wins out of 10 but not many teams do that.
“I’m really pleased with what the players have given – not just the players that are here tonight, but the players that have represented us through this year because they’ve been excellent.”
Harry Kane has, unsurprisingly, been among the many standout performers this 12 months however questions in regards to the Bayern Munich sharpshooter’s back-up stay.
Callum Wilson, Ivan Toney, Eddie Nketiah and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have all been chosen in current instances, however Ollie Watkins is the present frontrunner for the job.
The Aston Villa striker had the prospect to underline that standing towards Macedonia however was changed by Kane simply 58 minutes right into a irritating evening in Skopje, the place the skipper made an instantaneous impression as he pressured Jani Atanasov into an personal aim equaliser.
“Look, it was a difficult game,” Southgate stated when requested about Watkins. “Very little space, back five, so we’re dealing with three centre-backs, really, and we weren’t quite able to create the clear chance for him.
“But he did fine. It’s not easy when you’re coming in in those circumstances but that’s international football.
“Of course, he’s had games where there’s been more opportunities to score and he’s done that well with us.
“(This) was a different sort of test and, yeah, as a team, it was hard to find the spaces and find the gaps even though moments Phil (Foden) found lovely little passes and Trent (Alexander-Arnold) did.
“It was so crowded around the edge of that box to find those clear chances for our forwards.”