Technocrat Southgate has been transformed into reckless adventurer | Jonathan Wilson

England came from behind again, the manager finally made the right substitutions: it was bewildering but brilliant

England’s problem, in major tournament game after major tournament game, has been taking an early lead. Since time immemorial the English response to going ahead has been to try to protect what they have, as though inspired by some Boy’s Own urge to recreate the siege of Mafeking at every opportunity. What better way to avoid that then, than by going behind and only taking the lead at the very last?

That’s obviously not the plan, but it does seem in keeping with the wildness of late-era Gareth Southgate. The technocrat with his clipboard and his data has somehow been transformed into a reckless adventurer. Why rust unburnished on the shore when you can set off into the dark, broad seas, court adventure and improvise? Who remembers the back four now? Who wants to win tournaments with clean sheets when you could progress with injury-time goals and a sense of narrative inevitability? Why try to be Portugal or France, when you can be something far less explicable, far more magical?

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