England were jeered by their fans following the draw against Slovenia Image Credit: AFP

For the third consecutive match at Euro 2024, England failed to deliver a performance that justified their tag of pre-tournament favourites. In fact, their display in Cologne was so desperate it made a mockery of that tag.

England had almost 74% possession against Slovenia but little to show for it in their 0-0 draw against the side ranked 57th in the world. England managed just three shots on target and none of those really troubled Jan Oblak in the Slovenian net.

England are ranked 17th for shots and 19th for expected goals among the 24 teams at Euro 2024. For a squad that has an arsenal of attacking talent, those stats make for grim reading.

The only silver lining from another disappointing night in Germany was the fact that England will avoid Germany, France, Portugal and Spain until the final. That’s great, but with the way the team are performing right now, they’ll be nowhere near Berlin on July 14.

The finger can be pointed at England manager Gareth Southgate once again for his team selection, but at least he finally ended the Trent Alexander-Arnold midfield experiment by replacing him with Connor Gallagher.

But was the Chelsea midfielder really the man to inject some much-needed urgency into this disappointing England squad? No, he wasn’t and lasted just 45 minutes before being hauled off for the promising Kobbie Mainoo.

The Manchester United man immediately made England look like a better side and will surely be in the frame to start the last 16 tie on Sunday. Having said that, despite his impact at RheinEnergieStadion, he shouldn’t be starting.

Southgate should have utilised Jude Bellingham alongside Declan Rice from the start of the tournament instead of playing him at 10 and leaving Phil Foden, the Premier League’s Player of the Season, out wide. It’s been a tactical error and one that has seen England play poorer for it.

Foden was the best of a bad bunch yesterday, but his best position is playing centrally. For Southgate to not have corrected this error is baffling. Especially given the fact that England played so well at previous tournaments with Bellingham alongside Rice. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

The decision to not drop Bellingham deeper has also seen Anthony Gordon and Cole Palmer miss out from the starting lineup, with both men also making the Three Lions look brighter when bought on last night.

For a team that has failed to create many clear-cut chances in their opening three games, it beggars’ belief why the pair weren’t called on before the match yesterday. Palmer has the x-factor and can play between the lines at ease, while Gordon is a direct player who runs at defences at will.

Their cameos yesterday were impressive and Southgate must give them the opportunity to shine from the off on Sunday in what is likely to be a difficult game against the Netherlands depending on how results go today in Group F.

England need a huge turnaround in form if they are to make their mark on this tournament, but if Southgate is brave enough to give his young players a chance and learn from his errors of the opening three games, there is no reason why England cannot go on and win this tournament.

If he remains stubborn, his legacy will be left in tatters.