Defensive frailty to blame as Gareth Southgate and his England stars endure frustrating night in Prague

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  • Gareth Southgate will have learned a lot about his players on Friday evening
  • England boss may want to look for a new partnership at the centre of defence
  • It was a difficult night for Michael Keane, who was at fault for both Czech goals 

Michael Keane had a night to forget in the centre of defence as England lost 2-1 in Prague

Michael Keane had a night to forget in the centre of defence as England lost 2-1 in Prague

Gareth Southgate (pictured) hangs his head after experiencing defeat on Friday evening

Gareth Southgate (pictured) hangs his head after experiencing defeat on Friday evening

Danny Rose (right), Kieran Trippier (centre) and Raheem Sterling (left) walk off disappointed

Danny Rose (right), Kieran Trippier (centre) and Raheem Sterling (left) walk off disappointed

Gareth Southgate will have learned a lot about his players on Friday in what would have been a very disappointing night for him.

When he reflects after this match, he may want to look for a new partnership at the centre of defence.

It was a difficult night for Michael Keane, who was at fault for both goals and he’s now got Liverpool’s Joe Gomez hovering in the background. 

Manchester City defender John Stones is still finding his way back to full fitness too and as a result Keane may find his chances limited in the future.

Southgate wanted to learn and develop a new system but unfortunately the experiment failed. 

Shoehorning Mason Mount into the team as a No 10 meant leaving Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice as a deep-lying two, but the Czechs were very smart in their pressing, allowing no time on the ball.

Mount, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho stayed too high and that encouraged the swarm of red shirts, meaning the ball spent more time going backwards to Jordan Pickford.

Suddenly it felt like a 4-4-2 system, with very few options for the defenders. Building play is like climbing a ladder. If you can’t get onto the first rung and play through midfield, then you can’t get to the goal. 

Our front three is as good as anyone’s in world football but we couldn’t create the supply for them until the hour mark, when at last we changed back to a single deep-lying midfielder.

With Mount and Henderson flanking Rice, we immediately looked far more comfortable and fluid, and began to create more chances.



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