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Gareth Southgate must let England’s shackles off at the World Cup

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The first half of Monday evening’s meeting between England and Germany was alright. Gareth Southgate’s men were nothing special, but there was at least a much-needed sight of some creative desire.

The problem was, however, that there was still the obvious fear of conceding goals and losing games which held them back.

Southgate’s side has built itself around being tough to beat. Their recent success revolved around their defence, but that mystique has crumbled this summer. England failed to win any of their six Nations League games and were deservedly relegated from the competition’s top tier.

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And yet, the final feeling stemming from the nightmarish summer is one of optimism.

After Kai Havertz curled home a gorgeous strike to put Germany 2-0 up at Wembley, a switch seemed to flick in England. Their fear of losing had done nothing to help, and now, the best form of defence would have to be attack.

Inspired by the introductions of Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount, who joined the fun moments before Havertz’s strike, England went for the game. They needed two goals at least to take something from the occasion, and their previously cautious approach was not going to get the job done.

Saka and Mount pressed high and took the game to Germany, but it was the sensational Jude Bellingham who benefitted most from this freedom from fear. Encouraged to be the box-to-box machine that fans have long known he is, the teenager went on a tear at both ends of the field to help turn the tide of the game.

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Luke Shaw netted almost immediately and fans hadn’t even sat down by the time Mount bagged an equaliser, but England kept pushing and deservedly took the lead with a late Harry Kane penalty – predictably won by Bellingham. Three points would have been theirs had it not been for an unfortunate mistake from goalkeeper Nick Pope in the dying embers.

On paper, it’s another draw in a winless summer, but what this performance actually showed was that England are actually a good team when they choose to play like one.

Granted, Germany aren’t exactly at the peak of their powers themselves, but they were still good enough to go two-up against England. Hansi Flick’s side had more than enough about them to tame the Three Lions, but they were not allowed to.

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This is the England we need to see at the World Cup – a team full of players without fear, focused more on scoring goals than preventing them.

With Bellingham, Mount, Saka, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane in this squad, and with Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Jarrod Bowen, Jack Grealish and a whole host of others waiting in the wings, this England attack are too good to be stifled by defensive concerns. They need to be freed from the fear of making mistakes or pushing the boat out. That must be Southgate’s primary goal heading into the World Cup.

That being said, his second job needs to be fixing the defensive line, because oh boy, does it still need fixing.

Southgate must pick his in-form players at both ends of the field, rather than sticking with the stalwarts who shone a few years ago but have seen their stock tumble this season. Harry Maguire is an obvious example but he is far from the only underperformer who must thank their lucky stars that they made a good impression on Southgate two years ago.

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Confidence is key, and it’s Southgate’s job to inspire that before the plane for Qatar takes off.





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Football

Rangers appoint Michael Beale as new manager

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Rangers have confirmed the appointment of Michael Beale as the club’s new manager, following Gio van Bronckhorst’s sacking.

The former QPR manager has signed a contract which runs until 2026 at Ibrox, returning to the Gers having previously worked as an assistant manager at the club under Steven Gerrard.

90min revealed on Sunday that Beale’s appointment was imminent, and a club statement has confirmed his return to the club: “Michael Beale is the 18th manager of Rangers with the club delighted to confirm his appointment today.

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Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

“Signing a contract to 2026, the 42 year-old joins from his role as manager of Queens’ Park Rangers in West London having previously worked as first-team coach at Ibrox from 2018 to last November. It is an exciting appointment for the club, with Beale undoubtedly one of the most sought-after young managers in British football.”

Speaking about his return to Rangers, Beale said: “It is fantastic to be back and to see everybody this morning, there are some new faces but some people that I know really well so it is great to see everyone. 

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“I am hugely proud, it is a wonderful, wonderful football club, it is an institution. For everyone that works here it is a huge privilege, but to be the manager of this football club, that is extremely special. Some wonderful people have sat in this chair prior to me, and I am hugely proud to be the person sat here now.”



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Portugal vs Uruguay: Confirmed lineups

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By defeating Uruguay in Lusail, Portugal will be hoping to advance to the World Cup’s last 16 in 2022.

During their first match, Cristiano Ronaldo and company defeated Ghana in a five-goal thriller, while Uruguay and South Korea drew 0-0.

Line-up

Portugal XI: Diogo Costa, João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, R. Guerreiro, Rúben Neves, William, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, João Félix, Ronaldo.

Uruguay XI:

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Conor Coady responds to ‘daft’ question about Liverpool allegiance

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Conor Coady has told England teammate Jordan Henderson to do better in his goading after the Liverpool captain taunted him over his Everton connection.

Coady was a product of the Liverpool youth system and made a solitary appearance for his boyhood club in the 2012 Europa League. He has since moved on to Huddersfield Town and Wolves before joining Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton on loan last summer.

Speaking on the latest episode of Lion’s Den from England’s World Cup camp, though, Henderson could not resist trying to wind up Coady by quizzing him on his allegiances.

“Conor, we are all England here,” Henderson said. “But what I really want to know is: are you blue or red?”

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Henderson then started laughing, which prompted a similar response from Coady, who appeared both irritated and amused by the question.

“It’s so poor from him,” Coady said while smiling. “We have banter all the time. Of course, I am playing for Everton. He knows deep down.

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

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“So, for him to come out there and ask that question is daft. Of course, I am blue. Of course, I am blue, without a shadow of a doubt.

“For him to say that…you know what I am going to go back there sit down and have a coffee with him. I will give him a bit. That’s nowhere near good enough from the big fella. Blue all day long.”

Everton have a clause allowing them to sign Coady permanently from Wolves this summer for a fee of just £4.5m.



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