Criticism of the England manager is ridiculous! WORLD CUP CONFIDENTIAL

We’ve gone from ‘Southgate you’re the one’ to ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ in just a year – the criticism of the England manager is RIDICULOUS! Sportsmail’s writers debate the England boss in their first daily WORLD CUP CONFIDENTIAL

  • England will get their World Cup campaign underway against Iran on Monday 
  • Gareth Southgate has been under pressure from displeased fans recently 
  • But, frustrations with Southgate are ‘ridiculous’ given his tournament history 
  • The Three Lions could likely field a four-at-the-back formation against Iran 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

Questions over Gareth Southgate’s role as England boss have been branded as  ‘ridiculous’, given previous tournament performances under the Three Lions coach. 

England get their World Cup campaign underway against Iran on Monday and Southgate will be eager to begin with a win given growing concerns over their recent form.

Sportsmail’s Ian Ladyman insists that the former Middlesbrough boss has done enough to earn respect in the England hotseat and warned that ‘pessimism’ from fans could spoil their World Cup campaign.

Ian Ladyman (left), Martin Samuel (right) and Rob Draper discuss England’s World Cup hopes

Criticism over Gareth Southgate leading up to World Cup are ‘ridiculous’ claims Ladyman

England are preparing to start their World Cup campaign against Iran on Monday

Daily Mail Football Editor Ladyman was speaking as part of Sportsmail and MailPlus’s daily videocast ‘World Cup Confidential’. It appears on MailOnline every morning of the tournament and can be found on our YouTube channel. 

In a conversation with fellow Sportsmail contributors Martin Samuel and Rob Draper Ladyman said: ‘It struck me that even by our standards of pessimism, the way that the national view of Gareth has dropped off a cliff… it’s almost as if that summer didn’t happen! 

‘What is that about? Is that just the life an England manager? Because, my personal view is that it’s been a bit ridiculous!’

Mail on Sunday’s Chief Football Writer, Rob Draper agreed and suggested that reaching the final of last year’s Euros may have, in fact, been detrimental to Southgate.

‘I think he made the crucial mistake in public life of threatening to do something good, and falling just short. There’s an anger, that that was our final,’ he said.

‘There’s the arrogance that we sometimes have a nation that it was our birthright to win that final. It just wasn’t. Ultimately they drew the game. 

‘There is a little bit of anger. Literally, within a year, we’ve gone from “Southgate you’re the one” to “Southgate you don’t know what you’re doing”.

Ladyman insists that the high regard for Southgate in 2021 has ‘fallen off a cliff’ this year

The England boss guided his side to the final of the Euros last summer but lost on penalties

The Three Lions are without a win in their previous six games leading up to the tournament and discourse around Southgate’s potential line-up has been in rife in recent weeks. 

‘I’ve got a feeling that, in the group stages, it might be a four [at-the-back]. I think that’s that right decision. Personally, I would prefer if he played a four all the time,’ Draper continued.

‘I think he’ll go Stones and Maguire – that’s what he did at the Euros, if you remember. Against, what he regard as, teams we should be attacking against, he does tend to go to a four.’ 

Though five-at-the-back is the system we’ve seen Southgate employ at previous tournaments, he’s also dabbled with a traditional four-at-the-back formation in recent nations league matches.

Mail on Sunday’s Chief Football Writer Rob Draper says there is ‘anger’ towards Southgate

He also tipped England to start with a defensive partnership of John Stones and Harry Maguire

Daily Mail’s Chief Sports Writer, Martin Samuel, said: ‘There’s a difference between negativity and pragmatism. And Gareth Southgate is a pragmatic manager. 

‘I think he’ll play a four, because strangely, he always ends up doing what I think he should do. If he plays a back-four from the start, that’s exactly what I think we should do. Five later in the tournament? Well, you pick the team you feel safest with.’

His five-at-the-back system has proven to be rather polarising – with some fans in favour of the defender-heavy formation while view it a limitation on an England squad stacked with attacking depth.

Speaking in favour of it, Draper said: ‘Thomas Tuchel kind of felt the same well. It’s not that Gareth’s unique. Antonio Conte is similar. 

‘It’s not like the back-three is something only Southgate does because he feels we’re not good enough, it is a system that people use.’

Harry Kane celebrates after scoring against Germany in the Nations League in September

‘There was that great 10 minute spell against Germany, where we scored all those goals in the Nations League. And when you watch that, the full-backs are really aggressive and we’re on the front-foot – because we’re chasing the game. If you can get it to a 3-4-3, it’s not so much of a problem.

Biggest debates over Southgate’s 26-man squad centered about which – and how many – defenders he would bring to Qatar. And there are still views that England are still too focused on their back-line. 

Samuel continued: ‘You’ve got two full-backs on the pitch, three CBs, a holding midfielder and a goalkeeper! We think we’ve got these great attacking players and in the end, you have room for about four of them. 

‘The Dutch way was always: “What’s the fewest amount of defender we can get away with and still win a match?”. When we play, we seem to be the opposite: “What’s the most amount of defenders we can get away with and still a match?” And that’s unfortunate.

England’s full-backs have had a huge role in their success at previous tournaments

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