What has Gareth Southgate done to the Three Lions?

Whether the Euro tournament trophy ends up at home or in Rome, one thing that is sure is, Gareth Southgate has done a great job with the Three Lions of England. They are 90 minutes or at most 130/140 minutes away from what could be their first ever European title. Coming off the back of a fourth place finish at the last World Cup, they seem to have banished the ghost of faltering at major tournaments. At the heart of this achievement is probably their most low-profile manager of the last two decades. After falling short with the likes of Sven Goran Erikson, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson, uncelebrated Southgate is about to send English football fans into delirium, how has he gotten the Three Lions this far?

Southgate has got his tactics right.

Merit in players selection

Southgate has departed from the previous norm of inviting and playing players based on their stature and that of their clubs. Gone are the days when playing for the big clubs guarantee places in the Three Lions. Southgate has selected the best and most in-form players without bias. A good example is Kalvin Phillips, who got an invitation to the team while still playing in the second division with Leeds and is a super regular in the team now. In time past, a player playing in the Championship wouldn’t have gotten an invite. The likes of Ben White of Brighton Hove and Albion, Connor Coady of Wolves are in the team, just to mention a few.

Phillips made his debut while still in the Championship.

Players playing outside England like Kieran Trippier, Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho have not been ignored. Just as young and budding talents like Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and others have been allowed to strut their stuff.

The selection is near perfect and the result is there for all to see.

Staying true to type

Just like his not so flamboyant persona, he has kept the team more efficient than flamboyant. Just two goals scored in the group stage with none conceded says it all. In all, they have conceded one goal in all, from set play. In spite of having some of England’s most stylish footballers of modern era in his ranks, he has kept the style largely ‘English’. Defensively strong and relying on pace and directness at the other end.

A double-pivot of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips at the base of the midfield is more of a defensive and cautious choice. He could have played only one of the aforementioned duo and deploy more of his exciting midfielders but he has resisted the urge. After what seemed like a struggle at the group stage, there were calls for changes but he has stayed true to his style and it is paying dividends.

Trusting his players

Based on form, coming into the tournament, the likes of Jordan Pickford and Raheem Sterling should not have been starters but they have proved doubters wrong. They were two of England’s best players at the last World Cup and Southgate trusted them to continue in that light and they have not let him down.

Southgate has found consistency.

Captain Harry Kane struggled at the beginning of the tournament and he seemed out of place in the team. Southgate stuck with a player who won the Golden Boots at the last World Cup and last Premier League season and he has repaid the trust, he has four goals now, one shy of the leading topscorer.

As said earlier, even if football refuses to go home, there is enough for English fans to be excited about. Southgate has done a fantastic job with this team and luckily does not court controversies. With the World Cup less than two years away, the English can dream once again.

Written by Babatomiwa Ojo

Can Mourinho Lead Tottenham to Premier league Glory?

After eleven matches in the Premier league, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham sits top of the table. Bar some teams that have played one match less, we are close to a third of the season. Tottenham are looking like they are equipped for their first Premier League title, following in the footsteps of Liverpool, who also broke their Premier league duck last season. With the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City on their trail, can the Lillywhites see their title charge through this time?

Tottenham are in the title race

Tottenham came close a number of times with Mauriccio Pochettino in charge. They ended up third in the 2015/16 season when Leicester defied the odds to win the title, Tottenham were in the race with them for a long time, till they dropped out. In some other cases, they have shown signs they could be up for the title but they always come up short. They also got to the Champions League final in 2018. They have been nearly men for some time.

Pochettino was close some number of times

However, there is a difference this time – Jose Mourinho. They have a manager that has won league titles before. He has won the league title at every club he has been at bar Manchester United. When Pochettino was sacked last season, despite his good job at the club, there were signs he may have taken them as far as he could. Constant qualification for the Champions League and being in the mix as one of the big boys. It is believed that Mourinho is the manager that can take Tottenham to the next level.

So far this season, they are playing with all the swagger of a potential champion. they have taken the scalp of the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal without breaking a sweat. They have also forced Chelsea to a goalless game at the Stamford Bridge. Like a typical Mourinho winning team, they are stable defensively and brutal in attack. Harry Kane and So Heung Min are the most potent attacking duo in the league today, they are players playing on top of their games. As we have seen so far, they can put any league team to the sword. In defence, they are finding balance. Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier are becoming a potent defensive pair, Sergio Reguillon and Serge Aurier are looking assured at full-back. Than the individuals in the defence, they are building a strong defensive structure, little wonder young Joe Rondon stepped in for the injured Alderweireld in central defence against Chelsea and they still kept a clean sheet. One of the keys to their defensive structure is Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who has slotted into the midfield and given the team stability, a typical Mourinho player who works his socks off, winning the ball and keeping it simple and tidy in possession.

Mourinho could take Spurs a notch higher

Agreed, they have ingredients of a title winning team. What could stop them?

They don’t look like they have enough quality cover for their first team players, which is important for a title winning team. They could struggle for good enough replacement if one or both of Kane and Son gets injured. As stated earlier, Hojbjerg is very important, can they replace him if he gets injured?

Beyond Tottenham, the performances of some of the other contenders is a huge factor. Liverpool had 97 points two seasons back and still did not win the league. A haul that could have won them the title in every other Premier League season. Jose’s men may still fall short because some teams can do better. We know the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City can still take it notches higher. They are not faraway for now, even with some of their key players out. Tottenham may not be able to stop them when they get into full flow. Chelsea are also looking good, they look like a team that could be better than Spurs.

Son and Kane are the best attacking duo in the Premier League

There are signs Mourinho has gotten the perfect blend for his team. How to tackle the lesser opponents and the bigger teams. They look like they will be difficult to beat. In the opinion of this writer, Tottenham will do well but will end up short because the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City are more equipped and have what it takes to usurp Tottenham. Mourinho could still lead Spurs to glory but glory won’t be the Premier League title this season.