Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson believes Gareth Southgate’s willingness to sink young talent has been a huge factor in his side’s journey to the Euro 2020 final.
Southgate faces a selection dilemma as he guides England in their first European Championship final on Sunday against Italy, with several young stars vying for a place in the starting XI.
Eriksson, who coached England at Euro 2004 and two World Cups, praised the work Southgate has done, especially in including young people in its configuration.
âHe did a great job for sure,â Eriksson told Sky Sports News. “But there are a lot of good young footballers coming in. He gave them the chance, which is a brave way of doing things and he let them play. Southgate is doing really well, and you see the result. arriving at the final.
âHe has so many options. You have Phil (Foden), (Jadon) Sancho, (Jack) Grealish, (Marcus) Rashford, it’s just a matter of choosing who’s in the best shape. Southgate is very lucky, he has a lot of good, young and hungry players with pace and technique on the bench and that’s great.
“Grealish can make the difference, he’s a great player, I like him a lot. One-on-one he can open up the Italian defense. I think England have a better bench than Italy, the first teams are very good, but England is very good. “
In two of the three tournaments Eriksson has coached in his squad, England have been eliminated from penalties, but the Swede believes the Southgate side are better equipped than him, if Sunday’s game were to end in a shooting.
“Southgate was smarter than me on penalties,” he added. âI didn’t take a mental coach on penalties and stuff. I think England have that now.
“With the penalty shootout, it’s not a question of technique, it’s a question of mental strength at the time. It’s not easy, in the quarter-finals, in the semi-finals and more. in the final. I don’t want to see a winner on penalties, I want to see a winner in normal football times. “
Eriksson also gave insight into Italy boss Roberto Mancini, whom he coached at Sampdoria and Lazio when Mancini was a player.
âI worked with Mancini for nine years, so of course I know him very well,â he added. “He lives for football. He was a coach even when he was a player. Everyone could see that he would be a coach in the future.
“He’s a man who wants everything done perfectly, to dress, eat, train and play. He wants to play good football, not defensive football, he wants to attack. He was like that as a player. , and he was a fantastic player, full of creation, he is the same coach, very calm.
“He thinks he’s going to win tonight, he won’t do anything different in the lineup or in the way he plays just because it’s a final. He’ll stick with what Italy can do. , play on the counterattack. “