Tuesday 25 September 2018

John Giles: I'm not sure what Southgate tried to achieve with 'B' team selection - but all he learned was negatives

England manager Gareth Southgate during the FIFA World Cup Group G match at Kaliningrad Stadium. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.
England manager Gareth Southgate during the FIFA World Cup Group G match at Kaliningrad Stadium. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.
John Giles

John Giles

IF the object of the exercise for Gareth Southgate and Roberto Martinez was to learn something about their reserve players, only the Belgian boss could take anything positive from their game last night.

Southgate sent out his ‘B’ team and picked three midfielders, completely different from the first two games, so I’m not sure what he was trying to achieve.

All he learned were negatives. Neither Phil Jones nor Gary Cahill are any better than what he has and without Harry Kane they have no penetration up front and without Jesse Lingard, England hardly have a shred of creativity in the mix.

Of course Southgate and his players have ended up in what might be seen as a more favourable side of the draw but you have to be good enough to take advantage of your good fortune and I’m not sure they are capable of beating Colombia, never mind Brazil.

But Martinez can be pleased with his night’s work. He won another game, got Vincent Kompany on the pitch and even if Brazil are waiting in the last eight and they are now in the harder part of the draw, I’d still pick his squad over England’s any day.

Belgian’s back-up boys were easily better than England. Adnan Januzaj scored a cracker of a goal and I thought they completely dominated in midfield.

Eric Dier looked like the ponderous journeyman he is and while Fabian Delph could not be faulted for effort, he didn’t have the skills to make an impact.

England fans will move on from this and see an opportunity to get to the semi-finals but I’m not so sure they are good enough for that.

Herald Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport