\n Borussia Dortmund’s Michael Zorc is in line to become Arsenal \'s new sporting director. \nThe 55-...
\n Former Tottenham strker Mido believes Liverpool will struggle to keep hold of Mohamed Salah - beca...
\nManchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic completed his comeback from injury last night when he ...
\nChris Coleman has taken Sunderland training - despite not yet being officially confirmed as the clu...
\n Paul Pogba delighted Manchester United fans with his return to action against Newcastle on Saturda...
Read More

Southgate unconcerned by win percentage as England test themselves against more blue-chip opposition

Date Posted,June 11, 2017

It was almost a nervous laugh as Gareth Southgate, ahead of England’s latest friendly against blue-chip opposition, said he was not concerned about his win percentage record.

As interim and permanent manager, Southgate has drawn at home to Spain and lost in Germany.

“We’ve got to test ourselves against the best. It’s the best way to learn, to improve,” he declares.

“It would have been easy for me to ask for easier teams to try and manipulate our ranking, and get my win percentage up, but what’s the point?”

Gareth Southgate speaks to the media (Photo: Getty)
Southgate during training (Photo: The FA via Getty)
The England boss with Harry Kane (Photo: Action Images via Reuters)

Southgate was referring to yet another friendly against the Germans, provisionally booked in for November, but first up is this meeting with what the England manager considers one of the most talented squads in international football.

While the success of Paul Simpson’s squad at the under-20s World Cup has prompted excited talk of a golden generation, the French team sent out by Didier Deschamps at the Stade de France will be a stark reminder of the precocious talent those English youngsters might come up against on several levels.

Not only is this French squad , despite the shock defeat to Sweden at the weekend, likely to be a force on the world stage for years to come, but it is inevitable that a number will block the progress of English players at the domestic level.

France boss Didier Deschamps (Photo: AFP)

While it is Paris on Tuesday night, it could well be the Premier League soon for a handful of these dazzling performers.

A lot of eyes will be on Kylian Mbappe , the 18-year-old sensation who can take his pick of Premier League clubs AND the Spanish superpowers and is likely to command a world record fee.

His Monaco team-mate Benjamin Mendy, only 22, is another who will be watched by supporters of ALL the top English clubs.

It does not seem to be a question of IF the left-back will come to a Premier League side for a fee of around £40million but simply a question of which one, although Manchester City remains favourites to win the race.

Mbappe in action for France (Photo: AFP/Getty)
France’s Monaco stars (Photo: REUTERS)
Lacazette with Griezmann (Photo: AFP)

From his coaching experience at under-21 level and his deep knowledge of the junior teams, Southgate confirmed the French were the nation that has given England the most problems throughout the ranks.

And the likes of 21-year-old Thomas Lemar, yet another Monaco gem on Arsenal’s radar, and PSG’s Adrien Rabiot, 22, could be among others featuring who will turn up in the Premier League sooner rather than later.

Of more pertinent interest to Arsenal fans might be the performance of Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette if Deschamps gives him a run.

Centre back Raphael Varane is on Manchester United’s radar but whatever players Deschamps uses, you can be sure of one thing. They will give England a stern test.

“It’s a great match for us against high quality opposition,” says Southgate.

England players during the training session (Photo: PA)
England’s Harry Kane (Photo: PA)
England’s Jack Butland and Joe Hart (Photo: PA)

“It’s about the team getting better. We have to play matches which challenge the lads, with or without the ball, to perform at the highest level.

“We took a hell of a lot out of the Spain and Germany games … we need to learn how play every kind of opposition.”

Oh, and whatever players Deschamps uses, you can be sure of another thing … there is a good chance they will be coming to a club near you.

That is why this friendly in early French summer actually will be worth watching.

poll loading

Who will win on Tuesday night?


Back to previous page

payment with