There was a time when those in and about England squads were fearful of talking about qualification for tournaments. Preparation might go on behind the scenes but no one dared mention them.
After all, World Cups had been missed by the national team in 1974, 1978 and 1994 and no one outside of England seemed to grieve our absence especially. European Championship in 1984 and 2008 thrived without the presence of an England team.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
It is easy to forgot quite how precarious mere qualification for major tournaments has been for England.
England manager Gareth Southgate with Declan Rice during training on Saturday
But something has changed. There is no hiding behind false modesty now. England have one of the best teams in the world. Amid all the anguish of defeat in the Euro 2020 final — and it may be several years before such an opportunity presents itself again — no serious judge of world football would dispute that this England team ought to be among the favourites for Qatar 2022.
The shift in perception was made clear by Southgate, talking freely on Saturday about how England need to gear up for a tournament, which starts in less than 15 months.
‘In the past we were worried about preparing [for tournaments] because it might bring bad luck, or whatever,’ said Southgate. ‘Whereas we’ve got to be bold and prepare as if we’re going to get there but then make sure that we get the performances right to ensure we do.’
Of course, he also included all the appropriate caveats, such as the team’s primary focus being on Andorra at Wembley on Sunday and Poland in Warsaw on Wednesday. ‘But in the background we’re always making sure plans are in place in the positive outlook that we can get to the finals and need to prepare.’
The fall-out from a riotous and ultimately disappointing night in July at Wembley, an evening forged in hope but which ended in a mob storming the gates and players subjected to racism,