By 90Min
June 02, 2018

There's a narrative about England fans always expecting their team to outperform what they're actually capable of at major tournaments. Apparently, we all think that regardless of competition, we're going to somehow find a way to win, and that famous English spirit will, in the end, win out. 

The reality is most of us know what's coming this summer. England will probably scrape through the group, and be knocked out in the second round or quarter finals. For most of us, that'll be enough, a good sign of progress since that game against Iceland. 

Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

But if you're one of those expecting a break out tournament, if you've already got that second star printed above the badge on your England shirt, here's a realistic look at what's to come...

Realistically, England have a pretty average squad by World Cup standards, there are inherent disadvantages that come with this. They say the cream always rises to the top, and if that's the case then England are going to fall somewhere in the middle of the World Cup pack. 

There are instances where sides can outplay their ability (think Greece 2004) but in general the major tournaments have top quality winners.


Something else that major tournament winners have in common? A system in place and a style of playing, and the complete lack of these things has been one of England's biggest problems in recent years. 

Remember when Roy Hodgson announced his squad for Euro 2016? There was a lack of wingers, and it made sense. England had experimented with a narrow formation pre-tournament and it looked like that was the way forward. Hodgson, of course, played a 4-3-3, and had to play players out of position, and none of it made sense.

We should be encouraged that Gareth Southgate appears to be more bold than his predecessor and has made the switch to a three at the back system. 

Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

It's a positive that a young manager is confident enough to try and implement a style of play that isn't typically associated with English football. Here's the problem: the England squad doesn't have the personnel to play with three at the back.

Kyle Walker is not a right sided centre back, there isn't a combination in the middle of the park that gives the side enough balance, and going forward either England will have key players who either miss out because they don't fit the system, or they'll be played out of position again. It's a recipe for disaster.

There is reason for optimism, however. Southgate has named a young squad, and the exclusion of a player like Joe Hart suggests he isn't picking purely off reputation. But this England squad is still a couple of years away...from being a couple of years away. 

If Marcus Rashford, Dele Alli, Harry Kane et al can get some quality tournament experience and perform well this summer, we should look at it as a success. 

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