England view - Elliott Jackson

It is OK to feel conflicted about Gareth Southgate after the England boss led his country into a third semi-final at a major tournament.

The Three Lions boss let out plenty of emotion when Trent Alexander-Arnold's penalty hit the back of the net, sending England through to the last four.

Once again, it can be debated whether they were lucky or resilient after coming from behind again to take Switzerland to extra-time. England were better but still less than the some of their parts.

England are potentially 90 minutes away from the Euro 2024 finalEngland are potentially 90 minutes away from the Euro 2024 final (Image: PA)

The opening 45 minutes was an improvement. England moved the ball far neater and tried to probe against a very organised Swiss side. But chance creation remains a huge problem which is exasperating for a side overflowing with talent.

Phil Foden looked more at home in the right channel after Southgate's tweak in formation, if not personnel. Bukayo Saka justified the decision to leave him on the right, when many expected him to take the left flank to give England better balance.

Had he been on the opposite flank, the Arsenal winger wouldn't have been able to cut inside and rescue England. There wasn't a more popular scorer from the spot either, banishing the demons of the 2021 final in a similar manner to Stuart Pearce many years ago.

England did look to have a better balance in a 3-4-3 system. Throw in Luke Shaw for Kieran Trippier and Southgate's side would resemble something of a balanced team. You can toss a coin over Ezri Konsa or Marc Guehi, though I'd probably lean towards the latter.

But this is about Southgate and the conflict I feel. It is without doubt that England have underwhelmed at this tournament. They were flat in the group stages and should have gone out to Slovakia, yet they're one game from the final.

I have always been a huge defender of the England boss. At the age of 26, he is without doubt the best national team boss in my lifetime. He has brought excitement back to major tournaments, at least with expectation if not the recent performances.

That does not mean you can't be critical of him as a coach. His long-standing issue of being reactive rather than proactive was on display again as the second-half wandered. The Swiss goal was coming, we all felt it, apart from the man who could have done something to prevent it.

But the statistics don't lie. I do not buy into the 'who have they ever beaten' arguments. Tournament football is not that simplistic, you can only beat what is in front of you. Under Southgate, England have been excellent at that.

So, yeah, it probably should be his last tournament, regardless of the next 10 days. But England didn't reach a semi-final for 20 years, between 1998 to 2018. We have been spoiled with three in six since.

If ever you needed an example of how Southgate has reset the England psyche, rewatch those penalty kicks.

It's ok to admit it's time for change but Southgate deserves to go out on his terms, with a hell of respect on his name.

Gareth Southgate checks on Harry Kane after his tumble against SwitzerlandGareth Southgate checks on Harry Kane after his tumble against Switzerland (Image: PA)

England View – Marc Iles

LAST seen tumbling into the technical area and nearly sending Gareth Southgate flying, Harry Kane has had a tricky time of things at the Euros so far.

Some wags joked that Kane’s ungainly exit against Switzerland might be the only way the England boss would contemplate taking his captain off the pitch.

Whist you can see the logic behind Southgate’s loyalty, there is at least scope for a debate that the time has come to consider starting Ollie Watkins or Ivan Toney as an alternative, if only to allow Kane to focus his energies into shorter bursts.

The Bayern Munich striker has scored twice in the tournament, which weirdly puts him one goal behind a cluster of players leading the way for the Golden Boot on three, all of this without having had one truly convincing performance.

For my money, Kane’s relative lack of effectiveness has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with a long season in the Bundesliga, the pressure of a massive move away from Spurs and the burden of another international tournament as his country’s talisman. He has led the team impressively off the pitch but he’s only human, there are limits to how far one man stretch himself.

If there is a weakness in a decent Dutch defence, it is pace. It would be a brave move to swap Kane at this late stage, and perhaps that does not play into Southgate’s conservative nature, but there is sense in the suggestion.

There is no doubt England looked more comfortable in the shape they played against the Swiss, and Luke Shaw’s appearance late in the game might point towards him now being fit enough to feature. Having two fully functioning flanks could improve things for Kane, who has hardly been blessed with an abundance of chances so far.

But much like the England team itself, we are still waiting for conclusive evidence that Kane is in the sort of form which can win this trophy.

Ronald Koeman has used Wout Weghorst well during the EurosRonald Koeman has used Wout Weghorst well during the Euros (Image: PA)

Euro View – Marc Iles

VERY few managers have used substitutes quite as effectively as Ronald Koeman at the Euros.

While we have been bellowing at our TV screens for Gareth Southgate to make a change, the Dutch have had it down to a fine art over the last few weeks.

Plan A – try and play through the opposition using the midfield craft of Xavi Simons and Tijjani Reijnders, which barring the last 16 game against Romania, has quite honestly not been as successful as Koeman would have hoped.

Plan B, however, is to bring on a completely different type of striker in big Wout Weghorst, start hitting him with diagonal balls into the box, and let the chaos ensue.

The former Manchester United loanee, who is surprisingly still on the books at Burnley, has to be one of the most effective replacements in international football. He is a much better player than many give him credit to be, yet when the Dutch throw him on to the pitch to change up their attack, the sudden shift to a more direct style of football never fails to take you by surprise.

Turkey couldn’t handle him in the quarter final, and he made a significant impact against Poland, France and Austria in the group stages too – albeit defeat in the third of those games meant the Dutch ended up finishing third.

The stats show that Weghorst has played 93 minutes of football in this tournament but that in his time on the pitch his team have a positive xG of 3.87.

Weghorst is the type of jarring change in direction that you might think goes against the Netherlands philosophy. But it was interesting listening to Gary Lineker recently when discussing Ivan Toney’s impact against Slovakia, and he recalled how the great Johan Cruyff was not averse to throwing a centre-back forward in the final few minutes and going direct, if he felt the need.

It is a trick Koeman will inevitably keep up his sleeve for England, and one Southgate will no doubt have a plan to combat.