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International breaks are no longer a chore thanks to Gareth Southgate

Embrace it, England fans, because it's a bloody good time to support us

International breaks have for years been synonymous with doom and gloom.

A time to crack on and distract yourself with the far less important things in life, like spending time with the family or actually concentrating at work.

Not anymore.


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Emphatic

Reuters
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Emphatic

Gareth Southgate is lifting the mire and banishing the misery too long associated with England.

Yes this was only the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

But in previous years and under previous managers, an away tie in Podgorica simply reeked of a tedious and unconvincing 0-0 or 1-1 draw.

Darker days

Times Newspapers Ltd
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Darker days

That is, after all, exactly what happened the last time they met there in 2013.

Fast forward six years and Southgate has built an England side brimming with confidence and oozing with style.

Consumed by a daunting and hostile atmosphere, the Three Lions more than overcame the challenge of falling behind early on to record a statement win.

This is a squad bristling with ingenuity, a pleasing blend of the old guard and some of the most exciting youngsters on the planet.

Sir Gareth

PA:Press Association
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Sir Gareth

There is a clear and distinct direction to their build up. They no longer panic when the conditions are strife, but simply take stock, weigh up the situation and conquer them.

Make no mistake; last summer’s World Cup was a rollercoaster of emotions, but it hinged on improbably good fortune and national pride.

According to The Times, only Iran averaged fewer shots on target per game from non set-piece situations in Russia.

Nine months later, Southgate’s men are a completely different animal.

Raheem Sterling is undeniably one of the best players in the world now for club and country.

Silencing the morons

PA:Press Association
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Silencing the morons

Harry Kane is probably the best number nine – we still definitely take his qualities for granted.

Jadon Sancho is mustard and Callum Hudson-Odoi might be just as good.

The real indication of how far England have progressed is the players they left at home last night.

The next gen

Reuters
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The next gen

Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Joe Gomez, John Stones, Luke Shaw and Trent Alexander-Arnold are all viable first-teamers, simply underlining the strength in depth Southgate now possesses. That list goes on, too.

Very few international sides, with the exception of France, are playing with the same verve, vigour and vitality that England are right now.

So embrace it. Enjoy it. This is just the beginning for this Three Lions setup.

Our hero, our mate

AFP or licensors
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Our hero, our mate

Gone are the dire international breaks of old. Gone are the days of Big Sam grinding out 1-0 wins in Slovenia.

These new and improved international breaks are a blessing when England are thriving. I’m almost sad it’s over.


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