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07th Jul 2018

Paul Scholes’ theory about England’s World Cup performances makes a lot of sense

How much credit does Pep Guardiola deserve?

Darragh Murphy

Gareth Southgate has rightly received plenty of plaudits for his work with the England squad.

Southgate’s management of everything from tactics to media obligations has earned him a lot of praise from his players, fans and the press.

But, according to former England midfielder Paul Scholes, Pep Guardiola deserves some credit for the way that the Three Lions have performed in Russia.

Scholes has claimed that Guardiola’s footballing philosophy has clearly rubbed off on Southgate and that’s why we’re seeing more entertaining play than we’ve witnessed from England teams of yesteryear.

“I think he is definitely [an influence]. Especially with the way the back three and the way they’ve got the goalkeeper playing as well,” Scholes told beIN Sports.

“I don’t think Gareth has made any secret of that. I think he’s been to see Pep and he’s picked his brain and he wants to know how he produces that type of football.

“For an England fan and an ex-England player, we want to see the best kind of football. We do.

“Spain play the best football. Manchester City, last year, played the best football. Why not try to copy that kind of play?”

In the lead-up to the World Cup, Southgate was pictured on several occasions at the Etihad Stadium, keeping tabs on the likes of Kyle Walker, John Stones and Raheem Sterling.

And, as Scholes has said, the England manager has made no secret of his admiration for Guardiola’s tactics.

“I think he’s in danger of having an impact on English football,” Southgate said of the City boss.

“Who coaches our youngest players? It’s dads and parents who coach junior teams. The impact of seeing that Barcelona team five to seven years ago was enormous.

“He’s been an innovator. When I watch kids’ football now, when they can get on pitches that aren’t flooded or frozen, I see them playing out from the back. I don’t see [coaches] with heads in their hands saying ‘get it forward’. I think that’s an impact of his team, with the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

“That, coupled with us going to smaller-sized pitches and smaller games, all of that is helping football at the youngest possible age groups.”