'Against the top nations at crucial times, Gareth Southgate is found wanting'

England's Harry Kane reacts after missing a chance to score against the USA at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - November 25, 202 - KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS
England's Harry Kane reacts after missing a chance to score against the USA at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - November 25, 202 - KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

England suffered a World Cup reality check against the United States on Friday evening, as their lacklustre performance ended in a goalless draw.

While the result is no disaster in terms of the group, Gareth Southgate’s men still need a draw against Wales on Tuesday to progress, and a victory to clinch top spot.

Telegraph readers were not shy in expressing their frustration at the drab 0-0 draw. Highlighting the talent of the squad, many passed the blame on to England manager Gareth Southgate who readers feel is too conservative and perhaps even out of his depth. Many also criticised Southgate’s decision to keep Phil Foden on the bench when the game was crying out for more creativity.

Here’s where readers think it went wrong for England and where they can improve.

Where did it go wrong?

‘England were slow in thought and movement and second best to the USA all over the pitch’

@Phil Franklin:

"At England's feet, the ball spent more time going sideways and back than forwards! Total rubbish - especially whenever an English player received the ball, he seemed surprised and had to think about what to do with it. Wish they could play like the Spanish."

@Alex Macalister:

"I can’t understand the criticism. This was a game England couldn’t afford to lose, that was the priority. Job done and now they’ve almost certainly qualified - again, job done. A win against Wales and they’ll top the group . Nobody has ever won the World Cup by being brilliant in the group stage, save brilliance for the knockout rounds when it will be needed."

@Andrew Hicks:

"I would be interested to see the distances covered by the American players compared to the English. They were up for the game, chasing, shutting down, creating opportunities whereas England's starting XI seemed totally disinterested."

@Andrew Cowell:

"Southgate is an uninspiring and cautious manager. His record compares well to other England coaches when results are looked at in isolation. Unfortunately, when up against the top nations at crucial times, he is found wanting. The Euros final against Italy and the World Cup semi-final in 2018 are the most glaring examples of this when England were unnecessarily passive. We looked good a few days ago against Iran, but the opposition were perhaps affected by events off the pitch and clearly under par. Last night, England were dreadful: slow in thought and movement and second best to the USA all over the pitch. Only when Grealish came on did England pose any significant attacking threat."

@Phillip Luckwell:

"What happened on Friday is when you combine the worst England coach ever, with the best talent ever."

@Alex Walsh:

"I think everyone needs to put things in perspective a bit. Virtually all teams have games like these sometimes. It is better to get them out of the way now, than later in the tournament.

"They will bounce back against Wales and be full of confidence for the next phase. Come on England!"

How can England improve?

‘We need creativity: Foden and Grealish should start against Wales’

@Andrew Hicks:

"Typical Southgate performance - slow, negative, passive, scared of the opposition. Countless, pointless back-passes. You have to attack to score goals. Kane was a cart-horse, no control and should have substituted early in the second half. Callum Wilson would have offered much more. We need creativity: Foden and Grealish should start against Wales in preference to Sterling and Bellingham."

@Richard Swindell:

"Our manager is terrified of losing. Such a tepid, safety first approach. It is so disappointing that Phil Foden doesn't get in that team. Just a lack of creativity."

@Mike Beale:

"Harry Maguire played very well and did everything asked of him. He’s playing in a system that suits him with Stones alongside.

"I’m not sure the rest of the team is set up to get the best out of the offensive players. Mount runs around a lot but he really should not be a starter in a team that professes to be a contender. Sterling clearly out of form.

"Foden must play or Grealish or maybe both. This is likely all too much for Southgate, but they won’t get through the last 16 if he continues to be so negative."

@Jonathan Hull:

"Gareth Southgate lacks nous. It was obvious that Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling were collectively having an off day.

"He should have brought Phil Foden and Jack Grealish on after 35 minutes. Callum Wilson and Jordan Henderson at 60 minutes and then gone 4-4-2."

@Adam Willis:

"England's problem is midfield and it has been for 50 years. USA completely overran us in the second half and if they had a quality striker, the score could have been anything."

@Max Oppenheim:

"Maguire was excellent! In the post match interviews, none of the players seemed to understand their failure to press the ball, and speed up with one touch passing."

@J Powell:

"I can't wait for Southgate's tenure to end. Time and time again he has failed to see how games are going and been far too slow in making changes.

"At half time, he should've made two, or even three changes. Try to win the game, then he would have had a full eight days to rest his key players, and the opportunity to give the other squad members game time against Wales. Very poor tactically."

How do you think England performed against the USA? Join the discussion in the comments section below