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Unfortunately England will struggle to win anything until they find their own Frenkie De Jong

Sometimes set-piece dominance just isn't enough

What’s the famous definition of insanity?

It goes something like repeatedly playing Eric Dier and Fabian Delph in central midfield and expecting them to control the game like a prime Xavi.

Then being suprised when it doesn’t turn out like that.

Little n Large

Getty Images - Getty
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Little n Large

Unfortunately for England, we have been asking the question of where the ‘next Paul Scholes’ is going to come from for far too long.

The two Nations League final matches just proved how desperate we are for a tempo master in midfield.

It is pretty clear that without a player who can do what Frenkie De Jong does for Holland, Marco Veratti for Italy, Paul Pogba for France or Thiago does for Spain then England will struggle to win an international tournament.

Shapes

AP:Associated Press
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Shapes

Back in the summer of 2018 England were overrun in midfield against Croatia as Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic squeezed the life out of the Three Lions.

Then we saw exactly the same problems again against Holland as the Dutch pass masters dominated the middle third – even against Switzerland there was a distinct lack of rythm to England’s play and a desperate lack of composure in midfield.

The likes of Delph, Dier and Declan Rice are not bad footballers in any sense, but international calls for patience, control and composure first before the front men do their business.

You know what you’re getting with Delph in midfield

AP:Associated Press
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You know what you’re getting with Delph in midfield

Gareth Southgate has put together one of the most pleasing England sides in living memory, full of pace and skill up front, solid at the back and pace down the wings.

The missing ingredient is a true technical player who acts as the heartbeat of the team.

At the moment Spurs’ Harry Winks looks most like he could be the man to fit the role, but James Maddison and Phil Foden would both expect to start breaking into the senior set-up over the next year.

There’s a lot riding on your shoulders now Harry

EPA
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There’s a lot riding on your shoulders now Harry

With another international football tournament coming next summer, Southgate needs to start blooding a creative presence in midfield if there’s any chance of England winning the Euros.

The national team is currently brilliant from set-pieces, a plan we saw executed to perfection at the World Cup, but as has been proven in the year since a reliance on set-piece domination will not be enough to frequently beat the top teams.

The question of where a midfield maestro is going to come from has been hanging over England for two ro three generations.

Now’s the chance for one of Winks, Foden, Maddison or someone new to come in and make the position their own.

Only then can we prepare for world domination.


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