‘Togetherness is everything - you win things as a team’ – non-league managers salute Gareth Southgate and his squad ahead of England’s Euro 2020 final

Raheem Sterling and Luke Shaw have been highlighted by local non-league bosses as England’s top players at Euro 2020 – and boss Gareth Southgate has been praised for building a ‘club-style’ team spirit at international level.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 3:12 pm
Raheem Sterling, seen here after England's semi-final leveller against Denmark, has been one of England's standout performers at Euro 2020. AP Photo/Frank Augstein.
Raheem Sterling, seen here after England's semi-final leveller against Denmark, has been one of England's standout performers at Euro 2020. AP Photo/Frank Augstein.

Ahead of Sunday’s final against Italy at Wembley, the News canvassed the opinions of four of the Portsmouth’s area leading non-league managers for their thoughts ….

Hawks manager Paul Doswell

Are you surprised England have reached the final? What were your pre-tournament hopes?

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Luke Shaw, left, has been one of England's standout performers at Euro 2020. Picture: CARL RECINE.

'I'm a massive England fan, I've been to South Africa to watch them in the World Cup, I went to Germany to see us lose against Portugal on penalties and I went to the semi-final. It's the best game I've ever been to and I've been to so many games.

'If we're all being absolutely honest with ourselves we were a little bit flat in the group stage.

'Unfortunately, this is probably why we've never won anything. England fans want their team to go steaming forward, they want all the best players, me included, we wanted Foden, Grealish and Mount. A lot of people thought Southgate was getting it wrong, but he's got it right.'

What has impressed you the most about the England team?

'The biggest thing is that he's (Southgate) - this is what we're trying to do at our place and any club manager - in an international team he's created a club environment for the first time ever in England.

'This lot - I think it's because they’re younger, they're social media savvy, they're probably all mates away from football now.

'In the old days, no-one spoke to each other. Rio Ferdinand said from leaving an England camp to meeting up you tried to kick lumps out of them rather than talk to each other.'

Who is your England player of the tournament so far and why?

'For me, the biggest comeback of all would be Luke Shaw. He was written off by Mourinho, he had a serious injury, no-one would have expected him to come back as well as he's done.

'I could give you five standouts but Luke Shaw would be right on the top.

'Raheem (Sterling) has been our best player, there's no doubt about that, then it's Shaw, for me.

'Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips go about their job - people say it's unspectacular, but they set it up for the rest of the front ones to go forward.'

What would be your starting team and formation for the final?

(4-2-3-1) - Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Phillips, Rice, Rashford, Mount, Sterling, Kane.

Is football really coming home. How do you see the final going?

'It's going to be one of the tightest games you'll see, it's going to be nerve-wracking, but I've got a feeling it'll be 1-0 to England - and that could be after extra-time.'

Gosport Borough boss Shaun Gale

Are you surprised England have reached the final? What were your pre-tournament hopes?

'We've got some fantastic players, an abundance of talent, I think when Gareth has picked teams and we've all had our own opinions.

'One of the things that comes across that he's done as a manager, he's got a very cool, calm head.

'He works with the players day in, day out so he knows the players inside out.

'So far, it's worked; forget the Scotland game that was always going to be difficult, he's done fantastic.

'For me, what's happened in the past 18 months, to get to a final is just the boost we needed.

'Now, can we just get over the line and win it? I'm excited by it, like everyone, I follow it closely, I’ve watched every game and love it.'

What has impressed you the most about the England team?

'I think you look at England teams of past and old - it's not been like it for a few years to be fair - but people would ask why players couldn't perform for England as they had been at their clubs.

'The whole thing has ignited the country, it's not just the management team, you've got to credit the players as well.

'I don't care what you say, togetherness is everything - you win things as a team.

'In the past it's been a case of 11 individuals on the pitch; we're not, we're playing as a team and everyone is working for everyone.

'The squad is like a league club within a national team and that makes a massive difference.'

Who is your England player of the tournament so far and why?

'The amount of stick he's had, Raheem Sterling, fair play to him. People wrote him off before he got there (to the Euros).

'Everyone has been fantastic but the amount of grief he gets - he was getting a lot of it - you've got to have broad shoulders and be very determined and strong-minded. He's just gone out there and basically let his football do the talking.

'There have been so many good performances and you often pick out the forward players. From start to finish he's been fantastic.'

What would be your starting team and formation for the final?

(4-2-3-1) - Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Phillips, Rice, Sancho, Mount, Sterling, Kane.

Is football really coming home. How do you see the final going?

'Italy are a great team, they've got fantastic pedigree and so much experience. But I look at us and think we've got some great players, some really good players.

'I'll go with a 2-1 England win which maybe could come after extra-time.'

Baffins Milton Rovers boss Shaun Wilkinson

Are you surprised England have reached the final? What were your pre-tournament hopes?

'In the early games, you never know what you're going to get with England.

'They've been brilliant, they've really taken to it, they've gone the continental way where they keep good possession, it's really exciting.

'It's the first time in my lifetime, as well as many others (England have reached a major final), I was quite emotional the other day watching them get to the final.

'You just hope they can go on and finish the job now.'

What has impressed you the most about the England team?

'The depth in the squad - you can make one change and it doesn't weaken the side.

'You can never be successful with just 11 players throughout football, I think the squad Southgate has have brought into the ethos.

'You can tell that the players love their manager, they buy into what he's doing, it's not just about the 11 players on the pitch, he's thinking about the ones who aren't in the squad, aren't in the 23.

'It just looks like a real happy camp and it's showing in their performances.'

Who is your England player of the tournament so far and why?

'Sterling gets his fair share of stick and people say he shouldn't be starting and this and that - he's a Premier League winner, he got to Champions League final, now he's in a European final.

'He's got three goals, assists - he doesn't get the credit he deserves. The good thing for him is he absolutely works for the team out of possession.

'He just mirror images what the England squad are about these days, they're young, they're hungry, they're fit and they're fast.

'Credit to the defence, I wasn't Shaw's (Luke) biggest fan but he's a great player.'

What would be your starting team and formation for the final?

(4-2-3-1) - Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Rice, Henderson, Foden, Mount, Sterling, Kane

Is football really coming home. How do you see the final going?

'You just hope that they can use the home advantage in their favour and not be too nervy with it.

'I think with the Italians, if they get in front then it's hard because they just sit in, they love to defend.

'The key is if we can get a good start, get an early goal, then on the counter-attack I don't think there's anyone any better.

'They've had a tough tournament the Italians, they've had extra-time a couple of times.'

Moneyfields boss Glenn Turnbull

Are you surprised England have reached the final? What were your pre-tournament hopes?

‘No, I’m not that surprised. I’ve never really been a Southgate knocker. I always fancied us to get to at least the semi-finals.’

What has impressed you the most about the England team?

‘Rice and Phillips in the centre of midfield, and the togetherness of the squad. I’m massive on togetherness and they seem to have a bit of that magic formula that if you were a club side could get you an extra 15 points a season. I think Jack Grealish was a measure of that the other night - he must have been gutted at being taken off but he was still there celebrating with his pals at the end.’

Who is your England player of the tournament so far and why?

‘Most people would say Raheem Sterling, but he’s still a bit too wasteful for me. I’d say Rice or Phillips. Luke Shaw’s done well but I can’t pick him as he’s a scummer and I’d be crucified!

What would be your starting team and formation for the final?

‘Unsurprisingly, it would be 3-5-2. Pickford in goal, a back three of Maguire, Stones and Walker, Shaw on the left and Chilwell on the right. Rice and Phillips in midfield and a front there of Sterling, Mount and Kane.’

Is football really coming home. How do you see the final going?

‘It will be a tight game. Though the Italians have probably been the best team so far, I don’t think they’ve got someone like Kane - I appreciate that comment could come back to bite me. We don’t really want to concede first, the Italians are probably the best team at shutting up shop. But if we score first and they have to come at us, it could be an exciting game.’