“F the garlic is the fruit of your imagination. "Kobe Bryant had a pretty good line on the importance of trial and error, on failure as the father of success, on disaster Monday as a signpost to triumph on Friday.
To be fair, it may be a little easier to take as an approach to life when you are, by accident of fate, Kobe Bryant Or indeed, when failure doesn't involve a headache-inducing attempt to smash international B-List opponents into a lukewarm Wembley, while a bunch of budget fascists revolt in the stands and people on social media are calling you a vest fraud Unfortunately for Gareth Southgate it was the real deal.ity of Cloud 1-1 of Tuesday evening with Hungary .
Nevertheless, Kobe was right. Failure in sport is never terminal. Southgate's tactical bet, a game plan designed on the hoof during a two-week international break, has clearly failed. But one thing is certain. The real failure would be to ignore the impetus, evidence of the past five years, that inspired him in the first place.
Southgate chose a Intriguing XI at Wembley, packing the team with their most technically adept players. It's easy to forget how deep a start it is. There have been form changes before, recalibrations of the same essentially cautious machine. Southgate typically chose seven or eight mostly defensive players. Here he modified this equilibre, like England started with five forwards and a single 22-year-old midfielder with one yen for advancing with the ball.
This was an attempt to keep the ball in more risky and progressive areas, parts of the pitch where possession is a real threat to the opposition rather than a form of passive control. And so, the round head of England took the weeds of a horseman, ruffled his feathered hat and went into battle.
In the event that the attempt at something new was abandoned after 45 minutes of shaky defense and twisty possession. The midfielder was compressed at half-time. Jack Grealish walked out with an hour. Then Southgate spoke of England's failure to quell the(infamous, notorious) Hungarian counterattack, and the lack of the suffocating control that had marked their recent period of success.
The fear now is that the initial plan to be abandoned, for Southgate to react like a frightened cat and rush back under the couch. To do so would be a mistake of a deeper nature. In view of the progress made so far, given the hand at its disposal, now is the time to maintain the courage of these convictions. Fail again. Fail better the same.
Perhaps the only really positive note for England on Tuesday came with the squad's retirement one hour before kick-off. Grealish! Sterling! Foden! Kane! Rise! It was Southgate dipping her hand into the jar of jam and finding only sweet stuff.
It 's hard to remember, on paper, what 'a more exciting and young midfielderground and attack from England. And this note of clarity deserves to be preserved. Just being able to pick that squad, having the players present and ready, is a triumph of the conveyor belt provided by the EFL and the Premier League, and Southgate's willingness to sink young talent. Poor ex Night's run shouldn't be allowed to hide this.
So what went wrong? England watched from the first minute. Hungary invaded the center of midfield 40 yards from their own goal and repeatedly disrupted England 's possession. Harry Kane fell deeply and watched as he turned, as he did, but found himself followed by the nearest red shirt and stepped out of his stride. It was only a matter of time beforelet someone do that. It was also extremely frustrating. A team filled with talent between the lines doesn 't need their center forward obstructing that space. Kane is good at this. This added to its efficiency as its mobility decreased. But someone in that English squad must have the power to lead the captain when he calls the wrong play. Luke Shaw has delivered a total of 13 crosses to Wembley. Consider, H.
Otherwise England lacked intensity. Hungary ran hard, pressed efficiently and made every physical collision a painful experience. England has lost its models. Kyle Walker played 17 long passes in 90 minutes. Despite setting up a team of scalpels, it's as brutal as England has seemed for some time.
They weren't helped by the two attacking stalwarts of the past three years wearing their horrible club form in a shirte from England. Raheem Sterling, like Kane, also looked lost. And Southgate is right to question with this pick whether Kane-Sterling will remain England's main route to goal, if the route to Qatar is really about trying to push the same structure to another notch.
The challenge, of course, is to make this work in practice and under pressure. It's no secret Southgate is better as a defensive technician. What we saw at Wembley was a trainer outside his comfort zone, a wallflower trying to dance. That's not to say he can't learn or find a way.
Southgate seems increasingly concerned with Pep Guardiola's methods, including The Manchester City team have provided five starting players at Wembley. It is often forgotten that Guardiola is also above all a defensive coach, even if he kills the opposition to thesource by training brilliant technical players to control the ball, space, press. In contrast, Southgate's attempt to squeeze Phil Foden's ball game into this central area seemed tasteless and undercooked, not to mention a heavy burden on Foden's shoulders.
Fear is Southgate will once again withdraw from the urge to attack, as it did after the wave of goals (for and against) in the months leading up to the Covid-19 hit. This English team also had a more progressive central midfielder, an experience last seen in the 4-0 rubber loss to Iceland in the Nations League , an intriguing little glimpse of a team of 'England who could have entered the field at euros last summer.
This time around, Southgate must find the will to persevere. He said the reason he was unable to experiment with his squad during Euro 2020 was the lack of time to adjust to these tactical variations. Well England has one year until Qatar 2022, if they get there. And that really goes to the heart of what international football is all about.
This English generation has already succeeded, twice, playing conservatively. What is more to gain from starting over? Southgate has a nice hand of offensive talent. International football is, after all, a celebration of the talent, of the systems that created these players.
England has it in them to be successful this way now , to try a Game that has more risk, more grace notes, a higher cap. It will involve a few bad turns along the way, maybe even a complete derailment at the end of the trip. But it is notnow is the time to go back.