Westbourne Bill wrote:He's lumbered with a technically average squad who get by in the prem but are unable to influence a match at the very top level, be it WC or Champions League.
I think that the problem is that we rarely breed top-level creative midfielders in this country. We're pretty good a turning out defenders and fast, fit wingers and strikers aren't a problem either. We just lack footballing nous and guile in the middle of the park. We have done for years and, in fact, the only English midfielder of the last thirty years that could have taken Modric's place in Croatia's midfield was Paul Gascoigne. I think many of us hoped Joe Cole would grow into that sort of player but, he never did.
Kane apart, none of the others are in the top three players in their club sides. Certainly from a creative perspective at least. Sterling is the only Englishman who plays in City's front six and skills-wise can't hold a candle to Jesus, Aguero, Silva, De Bruyne and, now, Mahrez. But they're all good enough to play to his strengths. It's the same throughout the league: the most skilful players are never the Englishmen.
So much as I respect the opinion of people who say we should have taken Barkley, Wilshere or Lallana; all three of them are still water carriers and none of them would get into a side like Croatia.
That doesn't mean we're a bad team and Southgate deserves a great deal of credit for developing an effective system that doesn't require that type of player and he'll have to continue to do so for the simple reason that players like Bobby Charlton, Paul Gascoigne and Luka Modric are, for want of a better phrase, 'touched by God'. They don't grow into great players, they were born great players and they're like Mbappe: the best player in the team before they're out of their teens so, unless we've got someone like that in the U-17 or U-20 teams, we'll continue to struggle against the top sides because hard work, fitness, pace and organization can only take you so far.