Gareth Southgate’s desire to break England free of the shackles that have held them back for so long proved a qualified success in a 1-0 friendly defeat against Germany on Wednesday.
In his first match in charge since being given the manager’s job on a full-time basis -- having undergone a four-game audition -- England went down to Lucas Podolski’s second-half strike, but reaction back home has been supportive.
Former under-21 manager Southgate spoke pre-match about the need for England to emerge from the “island mentality” and embrace new styles and he was as good as his word as he set his team up in a new 3-4-2-1 formation.
“The system suits the players that we’ve got, particularly the likes of Dele (Alli) and Adam Lallana. It gets them into positions where they can be really dangerous, really effective,” Southgate whose side face Lithuania in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Sunday, said after the defeat in Dortmund.
“We also looked at the way Germany play and I thought it was a good system to play against them to try and stop what they do with their full-backs getting high.
“So it posed them a problem rather than just us being reactive all the time. It meant we were able to press higher up the pitch, so it was a good performance all round.”
He has now challenged his players to build on the promising aspects of the performance against Germany when they take on the lesser task of facing Lithuania.
Raheem Sterling is likely to return for that clash having not featured in Dortmund while John Stones is tipped to replace the suspended Gary Cahill in defense.
England are top of Group F having won three of their first four games, and are two points clear of second placed Slovenia.
“We have a qualifier at Wembley, so we are always excited by that, we are looking forward to putting on a good performance for our fans at home. It’s something to build on from tonight’s game.
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