Should Southgate experiment?

England will probably beat Kosovo, so is it time to take a risk?


Gareth Southgate's England rebuild is almost complete but one issue remains

The beauty of Gareth Southgate's three-year reign as manager has been the speed of progress.

He picked up the pieces after the Euro 2016 humiliation and, since then, it has been an upward trajectory which has taken England to the World Cup semi finals and to being Euro 2020 contenders.

If there has been a weakness in the team then someone has stepped up to fill it like Harry Maguire at centre-half or Jordan Pickford in goal, while Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane have emerged as world class talents up front.

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Is now the time for Gareth Southgate to experiment with his squad?

By Joe Harker

England face Kosovo today in their qualifying game for Euro 2020 in a fixture Gareth Southgate has predicted will be the toughest of the campaign.

Both nations are the only ones in their qualifying groups not to have lost yet, with England winning all three games played while Kosovo have won two and drawn two.

Still, it's a game England are strongly expected to win and it might present the manager with a chance to experiment with his squad.

The Claim:

Mark Ogden writes for ESPN that Southgate needs to develop a plan B and a reliance on Harry Kane is holding that up.

Kane scored a hat trick in the 4-0 win against Bulgaria during the weekend and has played a huge part in England's recent success, but the Three Lions don't have a plan for when they either can't or shouldn't play the Spurs striker.

England have a very talented crop of forwards and Southgate needs to take opportunities to develop a team that can play without Kane.

The game against Kosovo might be the perfect chance for that experiment, or it might be just one of the few times international football provides a chance to do something different.

National teams don't get to play a lot so every opportunity to develop alternative strategies needs to be taken.

The Counter Claim:

On the other hand, Southgate appears to have settled on the formation and team he wants, preferring to bring in new additions at his own pace rather than making bigger experiments.

He's kept basically the same tactic in place for some time now and it's reaping rewards, England has been impressive and it would make sense to keep going until plan A is sorted.

The areas where Southgate can experiment are the areas that need the final touches in his team, with the midfield still holding some question marks and that being where most of the speculation over who will line up being there.

Besides, Kosovo shouldn't be seen as such an easy result that Southgate can shake things up and take the result for granted. Both sides are unbeaten in their group and complacency is not something the England manager will allow.

When England get to the Euros they will surely be glad to know their main plan is one they are all familiar with, having played that way for many games.

The Facts:

Southgate has insisted there will be competition for places to keep all players on their toes and believes the younger players have "earned the right" to take the place of older, more recognisable stars.

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England's over-reliance on Kane keeping Southgate from developing a Plan B

Sep 7, 2019

Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

LONDON -- There is no debate over Harry Kane's importance to England. After scoring a hat trick in Saturday's 4-0 Euro 2020 qualifier victory against Bulgaria at Wembley, the Tottenham forward boasts 25 goals in 40 appearances for his country.

But has he become too important, too central to Gareth Southgate's plans for the good of his country? England, for all of Kane's goals, need a Plan B if they are to win an international tournament with their impressive crop of players, but Kane's consistency is making it impossible for the manager to experiment with alternative options.

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