Or big hitters will exploit weakness in finals
long way off football’s big hitters.
Quite simply, England cannot defend against teams that press them effectively and spending most of their time playing sides such as Bulgaria and Czech Republic, who spend 90 minutes sitting back, is not helping Southgate’s men.
Bulgaria actually squandered three presentable chances at Wembley on Saturday, despite being thrashed, but England’s defenders had clearly been lulled into a false sense of security by watching most of the action take place in front of them.
Because after just 35 seconds against Kosovo, they were caught out. Ross Barkley did not help Michael Keane out with the pass backwards that allowed Kosovo to close him down.
But what happened next was the stuff of nightmares. Keane panicked and tried to play the ball across to Harry Maguire, Vedat Muriqi cut it out and gave Valon Berisha the chance to bury a shot past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. It is barely worth worrying what Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane might be able to do to France, Belgium, Germany and Holland when England look so capable of shooting themselves in the foot.
Keane and right-back Trent Alexander-arnold were nowhere to be seen at the start of the second period, when the ball drifted over the head of the covering Jordan Henderson and fell at the feet of Berisha to net his second of a night he will never forget.
Then, in the 54th minute, Maguire failed to complete a block on Muriqi and ended up bringing him down to concede a penalty that the striker scored.
Southgate went with the partnership of Keane and Maguire for this round of qualification matches, but the duo have not looked like a natural pair.
England do have enough time to make sure they are not still their own worst enemy once the European Championship kicks off. But they must learn lessons quickly.