Raheem Sterling acknowledges that Southgate’s preferred back-three formation does provide problems up front, which they are frantically attempting to address in practice.
In their final game before the World Cup, England plays Germany at Wembley on Monday night. They hope to avoid another setback and finally break their goal-scoring drought.
There are many variables that contribute to England’s poor recent run of play, including the occasional key player who is not at their best, the manager’s prudence, and persistently challenging opposition.
But there is one glaring issue that Gareth Southgate’s faltering team is dealing with, let’s face it.
They are unable to score. Even so, their chances of scoring goals appear to be low. In just under five hundred minutes of football, they have not scored a single goal from open play.
In this Nations League campaign, just two teams have gone without a non-penalty goal, England and San Marino. Gary Lineker mockingly praised Southgate’s tactical strategy on Friday night, calling it “exhilaratingly safe.”
“I could say we just haven’t scored,” Raheem Sterling said,” but I think, even today, we had to go over things to try to identify where we could find that additional guy with this five at the back.”
Do we position a midfielder more advanced in the build-up? To try to rectify that, the manager is focused on getting us that room in the attacking third.
It’s about trying to locate crucial spaces in the final third where we can acquire an extra player, because if a side plays with a back five and matches you up, their center-half follows you in.
However, based on Sterling’s reaction to a question about why they did not go to a back four, it appears doubtful that Southgate will abandon his use of a back three, which frequently turns into a back five.
He grinned, “Because the manager wants to play a back five.”
Players for England are coping with the hostility of certain fans in addition to the current tactical issues. On Friday night, when Southgate went over to thank the visiting fans in the San Siro, he was booed.
The penultimate game before the 2022 World Cup is on Monday night at Wembley against Germany, and Sterling, presumably out of pure hope, thinks the occasion will spur a change in England’s fortunes.