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13th Dec 2022

“In those key moments, England have always failed” – Kevin Kilbane

Patrick McCarry

Killer, handing out steamy bowls of truth broth for these cold winter days.

Kevin Kilbane will find that many football fans, particularly in England, will disagree with him, but he makes a solid point.

Watching England, from a reasonable distance, in their latest quest for major tournament honours, the end product has not matched the hyperbole and bold predictions. Anyone that has tracked their journey over the years, and decades, will surely ask, ‘What’s new?’

After going ever so close to European Championship glory, England arrived at the 2022 World Cup with a squad brimful of experienced stars and some of the brightest prospects in European football, such as Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden.

When it all shook out, though, England fell at the third of five hurdles and are back home while the semi-finals will be played out over two nights. Still, there’s always Euro 2024:

Kevin Kilbane on Gareth Southgate

The mood on England’s latest big tournament exit is a lot less nasty and personal as it has been in recent years, though.

Gareth Southgate has been widely backed, by players, pundits, fan polls and the wider English media, since that quarter final loss to France. Veteran football writer Henry Winter has almost stood alone, in the English media, calling on a managerial change while Jamie Carragher is one of the only players-turned-pundits to highlight some tactical naivety from the England manager.

Otherwise, many in England are happy for Southgate to run it back and gun for Euro 2024 with the bulk of the current squad.

It is probably unsurprising, then, that a former Ireland player has taken it upon himself to stick his hand up and suggest Southgate should be scrutinised more. Kevin Kilbane was on Sky Sports News today, and made a fair point about the former Crystal Palace and England defender. He commented:

“I can’t say that there’s a real case that there has been serious progression… the talented players that have come along as a group, he’s had to nurture them, and the goodwill towards England players is definitely there now.

“The mentality of outsiders, looking in at that England squad, is totally different and that is solely down to Southgate, his man-management and what he has done with that team.

“But, on the pitch, has there been serious progression from what we’ve seen, six years ago? I don’t necessarily feel that… England should have won the Euros and they should have been Croatia in the [2018 World Cup semis] because they had better players than them. In those key moments, they have always failed.”

Gareth Southgate himself is said to be assessing his options. He is contracted with the English FA until after Euro 2024, but could yet ask to be released from that agreement if he feels he can bring the squad no further.”

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