‘We’re 15 years behind’
UNLIKELY as it seems, according to FIFA, England are only two world ranking places below Spain. Gareth Southgate, more realistically, puts the gap at closer to 15 years.
In his mind, despite their disappointing performance under the retiring Vincente Del Bosque in the European Championships in the summer, Spain remain the benchmark for European football.
Moreover, the appointment from within of a development man in Julen Lopetegui should be the model for other teams, in the not entirely unbiased mind of England’s interim boss.
So Southgate does not see England as “below” teams like Spain and Germany, more “behind” them.
Mere semantics perhaps, but at least it is a sign he believes his side are heading along the same road that leads to the very top of the game.
“Over the last few years, Germany would be the best team in Europe but Spain would definitely be up there,” he said.
“In the summer they obviously didn’t produce the level they wanted but having watched their matches since then, they seem to be pressing well again, they seem to have a system that everybody is comfortable with – two systems that everyone is comfortable with!
“They have a project that has been in place for 15 years plus in choosing Julen Lopetegui because of his work with the junior teams.
“Very little has changed in the way of playing in that period of time. The difficulty comes in stopping it! Until we develop as a team, we are playing against teams who are further advanced in their way of playing. That’s the challenge. That’s why those games are tougher.
“I don’t think it’s the case of the occasion, or freezing because they’re big teams, it’s because the challenge is harder against better players.” – The Independent