Gareth Southgate praises unselfish Kane and England’s attacking intent

first_img“It’s down to us to execute it in the tournament, but the first half today was an excellent performance with the ball, with really good movement and interchanges between the front four. We overloaded midfield and, whenever Raheem or Harry came short, our midfielders made some fantastic runs in behind. There was a lot of unselfish one- and two-touch play. Our play from the back had good composure. It was as good a half as we’ve had. We give the players a structure and ask them to make the type of runs we think can cause opposition problems, but it will come down to their awareness and touch. With a bit better decision-making, we’d have had more than two goals.”Kane, captaining the side for the first time since officially being appointed for the tournament, took his tally to six goals in five games while wearing the armband. “He has great standing in the world game now,” said Southgate. “His belief in what’s possible, his belief in being able to score every time he plays … but he’s an unselfish player. It wasn’t a case of him taking a shot every time he got the ball. He dropped deep to link, played one fabulous pass through to Dele in the first half, and his link play was very good. He played in an unselfish manner. That’s the best possible impact you can see, if your centre-forward is playing in that way.” Friendlies Share on Pinterest Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Gareth Southgate praised his team’s slick approach play and the unselfish contribution from the captain, Harry Kane, as England offered indications they are finding some attacking bite going into the World Cup in the friendly success over Nigeria.Although England have managed only 25 goals in 17 fixtures under Southgate, and scored from a set piece and a goalkeeping error against the Nigerians, there was promise in the combination play mustered by Kane and Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli. Those glimpses have left the manager optimistic this team can unsettle opponents at the tournament in Russia.“There will be teams with incredibly experienced defenders and different structures which will cause us to find different solutions to the way we play when we get to Russia,” said Southgate. “But what I liked about the interchanges and the unselfish running was, wherever the spaces were, they seemed to smell them and find them. The guys are intelligent enough to work those solutions out, and have the technique to do that. I was pleased with that. We’ve had defensive solidity. A big focus in training has been how we create more goalscoring opportunities, and make more runs like the ones we did today. Read more Share on Messenger Share on WhatsApp Raheem Sterling makes his point on and off the pitch for England Share via Email Of more concern was the brief period immediately after the interval when England’s defensive jitters seemed to grip again. Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi scored in that passage of play, though the hosts recovered their composure to stave off an equaliser with Jordan Pickford, expected to be the team’s first-choice in Russia, offering some much-needed reassurance.“We were a bit slow to react to their tactical change at half-time, and it ended up as a really good test for us,” added Southgate. “We had to manage a game which could have gone against us for a brief spell. We got our composure back after that, still caused them problems with the ball, and didn’t really concede any clear chances after that. We can improve on what we did. That five- or six-minute spell we have to learn from because, in a tournament, that could be enough to put you out.“We’ll give consideration to who plays in goal against Costa Rica over the next 24 or 36 hours, but I was really pleased with what Jordan did. Normally, when you play for England, there’s not an awful lot of opportunity to produce a lot of saves. But his decision‑making on crosses, the punch he made, his distribution and calmness to slide passes into midfield … that was really important to the way we want to play. He can be very pleased with his performance. The game was a good exercise and another step in the right direction in terms of building belief in these players.”center_img Share on LinkedIn news Nigeria football team England blow hot and cold against Nigeria after Gary Cahill’s quick start The Observer Dominic Fifield Topics England Read more Reuse this contentlast_img read more