Same Old England? There is Hope With Southgate

England lost 1-0 to Germany, on a night that looked like Lukas Podolski’s testimonial. It was indeed that very same man who fired in a fantastic second half strike to win the game. Kick off was actually delayed so Podolski could give a farewell speech, it had all the feel of a testimonial, thankfully the game wasn’t played in the same spirit.

Gareth Southgate named a very different looking England side in a 3-4-3 formation. For much of the game England dominated what can only be described as a Germany reserve side. Adam Lallana struck the post in the first half and Dele Alli wasted a golden opportunity to put the visitors in front. The performance from England was promising but shoould be taken with a pinch of salt. Germany fielded a severely weakened side, the thing that worries me is, if England cannot beat this German side, they would find it even harder to defeat the first eleven. That statement is not me being negative, just realistic.

England were undone by a world class finish, there is no doubt about that fact. Podolski fired home from distance, Joe Hart had no chance, it was a great way for the German to sign off his international career. England’s youthful looking side settled in their new formation well, they showed promise throughout the game. Southgate will undoubtedly look to Jermain Defoe at the weekend, last night’s game was tailor made for the striker. However with points at stake at the weekend, the England manager was probably right to give Defoe the night off. With Kane and Rooney both out injured, Defoe is the main striker for England, Jamie Vardy is a workhorse but his finishing is nowhere near the levels of Defoe.

There was no doubt that England looked a lot more comfortable in the 3-4-3 formation, they passed the ball a lot better than in recent times. The formation allowed Adam Lallana and Dele Alli to dictate the game, which they did very well last night. Gareth Southgate should be building the team around Dele Alli, but build the team around Alli in the number 10 position where he can have more influence on the game. Jake Livermore and Michael Keane did not look out of place on the international stage and will certainly be in Southgate’s thinking for future games.

It will be interesting to see if Southgate plays the same formation at the weekend, I hope he does because the team certainly look a lot better in that formation. Southgate is giving players a chance, he brought Defoe in from the cold, the likes of Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond both came off the bench to feature last night. There is potential there, but I feel I have said that on numerous occasions. Maybe just maybe Southgate is the man to install some pride back into the national side.

It is important to give players a chance, give them a chance so they can show everyone what they can do on the international stage. Southgate appears to be doing that, I hope that the England manager will break the mould and start looking at Championship players as well. There is an abundance of English talent in the Championship, talent that seems to be constantly overlooked by the national side. Hopefully Southgate is the man to change that and if he does, the national side will be in a better place for it.

For now though, it is not the same old England I am used to seeing. Last night felt a bit different, Southgate has been refreshingly honest about England in his last few interviews. Southgate has a very hard job to eliminate the fear that hangs over the national side, others have tried and failed. The player must take on some of the responsibility and make sure everyone is pulling in the same direction, everyone must back Southgate completely, I am not just talking about the players but also the fans and especially the press. If everyone gets behind Southgate then maybe there is a lot to look forward to under his stewardship.