Gareth Southgate is preparing for the most critical period of his six-year long England reign in the next week, with just two competitive fixtures left before the 2022 World Cup.
With the abject 4-0 summer defeat to Hungary in the memory, Southgate has numerous questions to answer about the make-up of his squad. We assess England’s prospects with just 61 days to go before the Qatar showpiece.
What England and Gareth Southgate have to get right
“English football is a tanker that needs turning. I want to set the whole of English football two targets.
The first is for the England team to at least reach the semi-finals of the Euro Championship in 2020 and the second is for us to win the World Cup in 2022.”
Could Greg Dyke’s first speech as FA chairman in 2013 turn out to be even more prophetic than it already has been?
England reached the final of Euro 2020 (a year late) to fulfil his first target, and could they – in three months’ time – knock off the second by walking off with the 2022 World Cup title in Qatar?
His targets – and the infamous Qatar countdown clock at St George’s Park – may have been later scrapped by Greg Clarke, who took over as chairman in 2016, but they at least served to show the level of national footballing ambition within the English camp.
Wind back a year, and hopes of England winning the World Cup would have been very high.
But 2022 was a summer of discontent for the Three Lions and their boss Gareth Southgate, with a record of W0 D2 L2 from their four UEFA Nations League matches, including a 4-0 humbling at home to Hungary.