SOUTHGATE’S VIDEO NASTY!
England shown TV clips to learn from tournament flops
AS well as outlining his vision of england’s future, Gareth Southgate appeared to deliver something of a history lesson yesterday.
He played a video of himself missing that penalty against Germany at euro 96, using it to explain how he moved on from the nadir of his playing career.
And within the same context he then ran a clip of england last summer and that morale-sapping 2-1 defeat by Iceland.
It might have been appropriate to add a few segments of wayne Rooney’s darker moments on the international stage, given that he too now feels like part of england’s past.
Rooney might yet prove us wrong and return for his 120th cap, but the events of the last few days have given the impression that time is being called on the england career of the country’s record goalscorer.
All those concerned insisted there was nothing to read into his absence from yesterday’s meeting at St George’s Park. He was having important treatment on a leg injury sustained in training last week.
But if Southgate had not first omitted him from his squad and then said he could no longer consider himself england’s captain — instead explaining he would select his skipper on a match- to- match basis — one wonders if Rooney would have made the effort to be here.
This, after all, was an important moment for Southgate. He was delivering his mission statement, the blueprint for england’s future, a measure of what it meant to him the fact he invited Rooney and other players either injured or on the periphery to attend.
Of those, only Jack Butland turned up, despite Rooney living a little more than an hour away from the National Football Centre.
If Rooney was feeling excluded, it did not end there. Yesterday the FA also launched their new away strip and in the photographs published online the 31-year- old Manchester United forward was noticeable by his absence.
For those who did attend, the meeting sounded extremely positive, even if a more cynical observer might wince at the thought of Southgate telling his players that, despite losing to Iceland, they can be the ‘best team in the world’.
Only last week Southgate was stressing the importance of recognising what a great divide has developed between england and the international elite.
even so, Jamie Vardy was glowing in his praise of Southgate’s presentation. ‘It was great,’ he said. ‘ Obviously we were looking forward to the world Cup and beyond and what we want to achieve as a squad together; the fact that we want nt to keep improving.
‘ There were high-highlights and clips fromom the past, whenen things have nott gone right, andd how we can use them and remember them to benefit us in the future; inn what we want too achieve and too help us keep ep progressing.’
And Southgate’s s pen-penalty? A penalty, itit should be pointed out, that was saved ed by Andreas Kopke, who will be on the bench as Germany’s longserving goalkeeping coach tomorrow night.
‘The penalty was on there, yes,’ said Vardy. ‘He didn’t go into much detail but he wanted it to be on there to show how far he has come as well. Obviously him being in that situation, to have that kind of knowledge, can benefit us quite a lot.
‘ I can just about remember euro 96. I lived bang across the road from where Denmark were based. looking back on it I’m sure that moment hurt the manager a lot but he will have definitely learnt from it, too.’
The Iceland clip from euro 2016 was, says Vardy, also brief. ‘ we didn’t focus on it too much,’ he said. ‘ we know that game was a let-down for everyone.
‘But you do need to look back on things like that to make sure you improve.
‘we’ve got a great set of lads, talent-wise — unbelievable. But we’ve just got to make sure we keep progressing.
‘It might be slow, it might be quick; nobody knows when it’s going to happen. But we just need to make sure that we’re constantly pushing forward.’
Vardy, of course, is proof that anything is possible, his rise not just from non-league to the top flight but also to the status of Premier league title winner demonstrating as much. ‘If we’re all at 100 per cent we can give anyan team in the world a ggame,’ he said of engla england, even if he did appe appear reluctant to en endorse the view t that beating the world champions in Dortmund would make them instant w world-beaters.
It was interesting listening to Va Vardy yesterday, and the distinction he mmade between playing for his club and his countr country. The pressure at euro e 2016 was something he said he had never experienced.
‘At leicester we didn’t really feel it last season,’ he said. ‘Once we got to 40 points it was off us.’
Rooney is sure to view his own career rather differently. The weight of expectation has always been heavy.
But england? That seems to be becoming less of an issue, judging by his omission from the starting line-up in Slovenia last October to his absence this week.
Never mind the controversy that surrounded a late-night drinking session in the team hotel. Yesterday england seemed to be embarking on a new journey without him.