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By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer
England manager Gareth Southgate could have fought to decide whether his glass has been half-empty or half-full since he reflected at St Mary’s a thud and blunder nighttime against Kosovo.
First things first – everybody at Southampton enjoyed a Euro 2020 qualifier that led at the finish of the chaotic 5-3 success of England.
And Southgate will have revelled in England attacking screen, evidenced by a operation from Raheem Sterling, who scored as well as establishing two objectives for yet another and Jadon Sancho for Harry Kane.
Kosovo tormented after central defender Michael Keane presented using a goal in the first minute, passing to Valon Berisha using a transparent run at goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Regrettably, however, there has to be a facet to this story though England are observing four wins and so are currently cruising after scoring 19 goals in those games.
The bottom line is this – England possess little or no chance of beating quality foreign sides if they defend shoddily and carelessly like this, if they give ownership out as cheaply as this and are easy to acquire in as Kosovo made it look.
Kosovo entering this match on the back of a 15-game unbeaten streak, are improving rapidly and with a triumph on the Czech Republic that increased their hopes of being one of the qualifiers next summer.
They are, however, currently ranked 120th on the planet.
This is a slightly false rating given their skill but the very fact they dragged England back from 5-1 to 5-3 in the second half and made an air of anxiety and anticipation among the lovers in the end of St Mary’s says about the defects in Southgate’s side.
England, defensively, weren’t good enough – nowhere close to the standard that would be acceptable at the level.
Keane was the first to err but that he was not the final.
West Ham United’s Declan Rice gave away the ball badly while Manchester United’s Harry Maguire failed to clear before hauling down.
Maguire made an horrendous meal of the most elementary part of effort to make it a treble helping of horrible of the attacking play and also for all the flair and dream by England there’s no hiding that this is a weakness.
Southgate himself pointed at other errors. This was a night of pleasure for the supervisor of England. There is a lot to concern him.
When confronted with the Type of protecting England made against 26, imagine the likes of Belgium, France, Spain, Germany and a few others?
The truth is it may be better not to imagine it.
Would be licking their lips at the idea of facing this England defence at a significant tournament.
England have the John Stones of Manchester City to come back while the option beyond the selections, Liverpool’s Joe Gomez, is not getting regular games at club 47, but he had a nightmare at the Uefa Nations League semi-final contrary to the Netherlands.
The first pick defenders of southgate have not proved reliable against global resistance of the highest grade – and made no evidence here to indicate they’ll do soon.
Kosovo’s ability to operate through the midfield of England and get at the center would also have concerned Southgate.
It may seem somewhat spoilsport to concentrate in afterwards another victory that is important but to ignore it would be delusion. Southgate will not be allowing it escape his attention.
For potency of the assault of England and all of the course, their condition indicates since there’s no way they will not concede 47, they will need to stand up at least three goals against these teams mentioned to stand a chance of success.
This task won’t be as easy as it had been here against a Kosovo side dedicated to a all-out attacking strategy that sometimes left them open in the back.
England are horribly fallible in defence – however they’re superbly irresistible in attack.
They’ve scored 14 goals in their three home games, more than any other state in Euros qualifying up to now.
And was that the brilliant Sterling, that produced a 45-minute functionality against Kosovo that was only on another level from anybody else.
Sterling finished a sequence that was 27-game that was bare extending back three years when he scored in Spain nearly a year ago – now he is irreplaceable.
Since that game in Spain he’s played seven games, scoring six goals in England’s qualifying matches up to now and producing four assists.
He could not be stopped in the first 45 minutes along with also his partnership with Kane is now reaching telepathic proportions since he set up England’s captain for his 26th goal in 41 appearances, par together with Bryan Robson and one supporting David Platt.
Sterling was involved in 12 goals in his past eight England matches, with eight goals and four assists. He also Kane have combined for six goals under Southgate three times as numerous as any other duo.
Kane’s performance comprised a blemish if Arijanet Muric his second skip rescued his second-half penalty in 10 attempts for England.
In the end it was not expensive as Kosovo’s courageous attempt at a wonder turnaround dropped short and England could look at a Team A table.
However, particularly that defence, England’s screen, was not perfect and they won’t come off unscathed if that is created on a larger stage.