The global football community has long discussed failures by the England National Team on the biggest stages. The English National Team is probably one of the most well-known worldwide due to their ubiquitous presence in the English media.
Despite having produced some of the greatest footballers in history and being the game's birthplace, England has only won one major trophy, the World Cup in 1966. But in the past couple of years, it seemed that the English team would finally get out of the curse with Gareth Southgate at the helm since reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the finals of the 2020 Euro were quite unprecedented in the history of the Three Lions.
The team combination also appeared to click, which was a welcome relief for English football fans, as despite having one of the best national teams in the world between 2000 and 2010, the England National Team of that time did not perform up to par due to the presence of a lot of big egos, many of whom came from Premier League clubs with a long history of rivalry against each other. But under Southgate, all these problems seemed to disappear, as the team looked energetic and ambitious.
But the ghosts of the past seem to be haunting the English National Team again, judging from the results of the UEFA Nations League. They are at the bottom of the group, dubbed the 'Group of Death,' which comprises Italy, Hungary, and Germany, along with England.
The team's performance was dreadful this Saturday in their 1-0 defeat against Italy. The midfield looked non-existent despite top-notch names in all of the midfield departments, and it was somehow reminiscent of the time of Lampard, Gerrard, and Scholes. The wing duo of Saka and Sterling looked extremely clueless as they battled against a subpar Italian team.
The performances of Reece James and Declan Rice did not replicate their feats at the club level either. Finally, Harry Maguire, one of the most criticised players at Manchester United, didn't do anything to prove the critics wrong.
Despite having had a relatively good spell from 2018–2021 since the legendary Alf Ramsey, England has again fallen into the same cycle, which can largely be blamed on complacency, the stardom effect and the extremely conservative style of management by Gareth Southgate.
Southgate doesn't have much to lose. Hence it would be interesting to see if he finally breaks the shackles and becomes more attacking in the World Cup, which in turn could prove vital for the success of the English National Team.