Copy of 2022-12-04T210334Z_2094376860_UP1EIC41MHW9L_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-WORLDCUP-ENG-SEN-REPORT-1670240138124
England manager Gareth Southgate applauds the fans after the match against Senegal. England progressed to the quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup where they will meet France. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: Following yet another impressive performance which has seen them reach the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals, England have silenced their pre-tournament critics. It was a faultless display against Senegal which the Three Lions bossed from the get go and went on to win 3-0. It means a last-eight clash against reigning world champions France.

Coach Gareth Southgate has guided his side to three wins and a draw in Qatar and with each game they look better. But I don’t think the team is getting the credit it deserves.

I think this is unfair because when teams like the Netherlands win – who have yet to really sparkle in the tournament – people go berserk over them.

More to come

If you look at England’s last two matches they have been impeccable. They have scored 6 goals in those two games and kept clean sheets in both. What is really exciting is that there appears to be even more to come from the team. This bodes well what with a very tough challenge next on Saturday.

I think other teams should start to fear England now because they have proven time after time that they are a very good side. Before the tournament there was talk of them not scoring enough goals. But they have scored 12 in four games. Those 12 have been scored by eight players. And they have not conceded in their last three which is their best defensive run since 1982.

But the truth is the team has been playing very well for the last 4 years. It is clear that Southgate is now experienced in the art of tournament management. England are in the last 8 in Qatar but don’t forget they made it to the World Cup semi-final in 2018 and the Euro 2020 final. He knows how to pick the right team even though he is always being criticized for leaving certain players out. His results speak for themselves. His measured approach has created a group that is a growing threat in this tournament.

England’s midfield three of Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham have the perfect balance while up front Phil Foden is the man that makes things happen. He is ably supported by Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka.

Lacks pace

France are on a high and have Kylian Mbappe firing on all cylinders and Southgate will have to decide if he can risk sticking with star man Harry Maguire. The centre back has been brilliant for the team but he lacks pace. If the coach makes any major defensive changes he could risk upsetting the fine balance he has achieved at the back. He could opt to play with three at the back to help counter Mbappe’s threat or he may leave his winning team alone.

Whatever he decides to do England fans should not worry. Southgate got the big selection calls right against Senegal. He has proven he knows how to pick a winning team and has guided them to the brink of glory on several occasions. He is more successful than the previous 16 managers England have had since Alf Ramsey won it in 1966 and is responsible for building this fantastic team.

It is time to get behind him and the boys and they just might advance further in the tournament.