England were relegated to Leag
ue B of the Nations League with a worrying 1-0 defeat away to Italy which ramps up concerns about the prospects of Gareth Southgate’s side two months out from the World Cup.
The England boss will be left in no doubt about the feelings of the fans as he was again booed after the game, just as he was following the defeat to Hungary in June.
“It’s an understandable emotional reaction,” said Southgate, whose side are now without a win in five – their worst run in eight years – and have major problems to address before they go to Qatar.
After an uninspiring first half in Milan, where England’s 3-4-3 system and Bukayo Saka’s role at left wing-back didn’t look right, they were undone on 68 minutes when Napoli’s Giacomo Raspadori was allowed to bring down a long ball in the box and bend into the far corner after Kyle Walker stepped off.
“There’s going to be a lot of noise… it’s my job to take that pressure for them”
Gareth Southgate says England need to stick to what has gotten them success in previous tournaments in order to put their bad run of form right. pic.twitter.com/ccaRjxyi45
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 23, 2022
Italy have been badly out of sorts since they beat England at Wembley last summer to win the Euros, failing to qualify for the World Cup, but they could have scored several more on Friday night.
Southgate regarded this performance as a step in the right direction, an argument having merit only on the basis it was nowhere near as shambolic as the debacle against Hungary, but the rationale that this time was not quite as bad as last time does not carry much currency.
England’s form has fallen off a cliff at the worst possible time, and this run of form is deeply worrying with the days to the World Cup being ticked off.
Among Southgate’s most serious concerns will be the lack of goals in England’s side. According to sports data provider Opta, it is now 495 minutes since they scored from open play, when Raheem Sterling scored in the 3-0 win against the Ivory Coast in March.
England were heavily reliant on captain Harry Kane before their potency evaporated and he is now carrying an even greater responsibility in Qatar.
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