Players have banished fear: Southgate

Jesse Lingard scoring the only goal of the international friendly in Amsterdam on Friday to give England their first win against the Netherlands since 1969. It was his first goal for his country, on his ninth appearance.
Jesse Lingard scoring the only goal of the international friendly in Amsterdam on Friday to give England their first win against the Netherlands since 1969. It was his first goal for his country, on his ninth appearance.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

AMSTERDAM • Gareth Southgate believes a new generation of England players are shedding the fear factor that has so undermined progress at recent major tournaments, with his willingness to allow them to express themselves ensuring they now enjoy representing the Three Lions.

England won their first away game against the Netherlands since 1969 courtesy of Jesse Lingard's goal just before the hour mark, and have now recorded five straight clean sheets. It also condemned Ronald Koeman to defeat in his first match as manager of the Oranje.

Southgate, who will wait on news about the fitness of defenders Joe Gomez and Harry Maguire before Tuesday's game against Italy after both limped away from Friday's victory, praised his players' versatility after surprisingly asking Kyle Walker to fill in at centre-half.

"We deserved the win, and it was a well-taken goal started by our goalkeeper," said the England manager. "I was really pleased with the quality of our football. The tactical awareness the players showed... for me, there were lots of individual positives and the most pleasing thing is the players enjoyed their football tonight.

"They enjoyed having the ball.

"We have a different type of player coming through our academies compared to the past, in terms of their ability to play as we did tonight. We want them to express themselves, to play with that freedom."

He singled out Jordan Pickford, who is bidding to be England's first-choice goalkeeper, winger Raheem Sterling and centre-back Maguire for particular praise.

But Southgate also suggested midfielder Jordan Henderson's display as captain had caught his eye as he considers who will wear the armband in this year's World Cup.

Away from the pitch there were worrying scenes, with some 90 England fans arrested by Amsterdam police ahead of the game. Videos posted online showed crowds of English fans packing the narrow streets and bridges in the canal city.

The men were mainly accused of disrupting public order. One video on the Dutch public broadcaster NOS showed police wielding truncheons, and backed by horseback officers, wading into the crowds to restore order in the city's notorious red light district.

In another video, hordes of fans were seen tossing a bike off a bridge onto a passing canal boat.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 25, 2018, with the headline 'Players have banished fear: Southgate'. Print Edition | Subscribe