When Raheem Sterling scored his second goal past David De Gea last week, I almost broke my mobile because of the berserk celebration. Seeing that 3-0 scoreline before the half-time whistle was unbelievable, that too in the Spanish soil! Like Sterling who scored an International goal after around a thousand days, I too was in a fantasy land. Pinching my hand did no good and I continued floating. But the 9.8 meters per second square force pulled me down in the 98th minute. When Sergio Ramos completed his rituals of scoring in the stoppage time, I came back to where the Three Lions fans were five months back.
I was reading every single article, published on the next morning and it was all Gareth Southgate. Surely this man has made England a mighty team with the likes of ordinary Jordon Henderson, Harry Maguire and Jesse Lingard on the side when the other managers failed with the likes of extraordinary Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Wayne Rooney. But I strongly believe that the transformation of these cubs into lions is not all about this Englishman. The onus should also be given to two other men - a Catalan and an Argentine. For me, the rise of Three Lions is because of these three gaffers: Gareth Southgate, Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola.
England's starting XI in the world cup comprised of 3 players apiece from Spurs and City who were the fulcrum in each position. But it should be 2 for Guardiola and 4 for Pochettino considering Kyle Walker became what he is under the Argentine. These two coaches' impact is incredible. Speaking of Guardiola, he has an implausible history of lighting up a nation's football. He was in charge of Barcelona in 2010 and Spain won the coveted World Cup. When he was implementing his style in Bayern Munich four years later, the German emerged victorious in the Maracana final. These are not just coincidences. This fact implies what Guardiola is!
The La Roja playing XI that started against the Netherlands in the 2010 final consisted of 7 players from the Catalan side. To be frank it's not Vincent Del Bosque's football that they played. It was purely Guardialo's. Del Bosque must be credited for managing that Madrid - Barca backline. The same doesn't apply for Germany. You can't take everything off the remarkable Joachim Low. But, the cutting edge to the side that finished third for two consecutive world cups was produced by the then Bayern Munich manager. No wonder that 5 players in the starting XI against Argentina in the final were from the Bavarian giants. But it was Manuel Neuer's ball playing skills, Philipp Lahm's versatility of playing as a right back and as a holding midfielder, Jerome Boateng's brilliant long-range passing that made Germany formidable. Bastian Schweinsteiger's solidity and Thomas Muller's creativity apart.
And again, England's emergence in World football comes at the same time when this extraordinary man is plying his trade in the country. How about John Stones and his passing! This man has incredibly controlled the game through his feet and that gives Southgate the confidence to play three at the back. And that decision meant England had a change of fortune in the world cup. In Spain, In Germany, In England, the Catalan has infused his playing style. It didn't give England the ultimate result in Russia, but this was a big result for England which has struggled for decades and the process is still evolving which was clearly evident in Sevilla.
Let's come to the Argentine. Against La Roja, the English XI comprised of 4 Spurs players, one among them is the national captain. Not just in Sevilla, Spurs had the majority in Russia too. Five among the 23 that finished fourth in that global event were Lilly Whites. But what was Spurs contribution to Three Lions in 2014 FIFA World Cup? The answer to this question is 'Null'! This is only because of the former Espanyol coach who produced 3 world cup players from Southampton for the Brazil tournament. This is what 'Poch' is about, unearthing talents.
Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Eric Dier, Kieren Trippier, Harry Kane, Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Harry Winks, Dele Alli...Oh man, it's way too much in his five-year Premier League tenure. No one has given the English stars as many opportunities as him. England was a team that gave a national call-up to likes of Rickie Lambert at 31. Wait... even Lambert shined when he was playing under Pochettino! Not just numbers, he made this bunch of youngsters fearless. He made them complete footballers. We saw what Eric Dier did to the mighty Sergio Ramos in his penalty area. English players will no more wait for the ball to arrive at their feet. They are pressing. Yes, they are!
The Former Barca boss has given this England side the style and the former Saints boss, nucleus. And here comes Gareth Southgate who has made an excellent cocktail out of those them. He made use of all the technical poise these men incorporated. He combined Stones' ball playing and Trippier's runs, He combined Sterling's direct runs with Kane's holding play, He combined their passing and pressing and infused his ideology in the side.
Southgate used the Premier League side's usage of the 3 man defence and gave England a new look, a young look! No to Wilshere (The Roy Hodgson favourite) is welcoming. No to Joe Hart is bold and the way he says No to Troy Deeney is extraordinary. When Deeney was flying high in the opening weeks of this season and when the reporters asked him about his chances before the Nation's league game against Croatia, he genuinely said: "There is a way we want to play and the type of players we want to work with, and there are some guys who didn't fit that model". Deeney is good. But he doesn't want a 30-year-old now in the side. "There are a couple of others that are still young, still have room for growth; Chalobah, Will Hughes, Ross Barkley, but I don't want to bring them in now, three days into the camp to replace injured players", he added.
He doesn't want older guys in his side, as they'll be much older when landing in Qatar. But he is not rushing the youngsters either. He has a plan and is going with it whatever the situation is. If someone like Trippier (he'll be 32 in 2018) is struggling, this man won't give him the 'Rooney chances'. Instead, he'll go with Alexander Arnold or Joe Gomez straight away. This man clearly belongs to a new breed of English managers. And without him, the 'Catalan - Argentine' impact I spoke about could've gone useless!