sport news JESSE LINGARD: England's draw with USA should not be criticised - clean sheets ... trends now

sport news JESSE LINGARD: England's draw with USA should not be criticised - clean sheets ... trends now
sport news JESSE LINGARD: England's draw with USA should not be criticised - clean sheets ... trends now

sport news JESSE LINGARD: England's draw with USA should not be criticised - clean sheets ... trends now

England are only two games into this World Cup and already some critics are talking about Gareth Southgate’s side being a flaky Jekyll & Hyde team. 

In the opener they thrashed Iran, then against the USA on Friday they laboured to a 0-0 draw. They went from 13 shots in the opener, seven on target and six goals, to three shots on target and no goals.

I’ve been in this game long enough not to get mad about such reactions. I’m totally cool with what happened, and most importantly so will Gareth. Let me tell you a few of the reasons that a negative response is wrong-headed in so many ways.

The negative responses to England's 0-0 group stage stalemate with USA are wrong-headed

The negative responses to England's 0-0 group stage stalemate with USA are wrong-headed

Gareth Southgate will be delighted to have picked up a clean sheet after conceding to Iran

Gareth Southgate will be delighted to have picked up a clean sheet after conceding to Iran

England are top of Group B today and a win over Wales on Tuesday will see them through as group winners. A draw would likely do the same while even a defeat would probably see them through to the knockout phase. Hardly a disaster.

This is tournament football. Some days you’re on fire and then you’re a damp squib. Friday was a hard game against a young USA team packed with pace and talent, from Gio Reyna to Weston McKennie. England did not concede.

England captain Harry Kane is yet to find the back of the net during the tournament

England captain Harry Kane is yet to find the back of the net during the tournament 

You probably saw Gareth giving his interview after beating Iran 6-2 and he looked a bit grumpy and said he was annoyed at the way the game had ended. This wasn’t just some psychological ploy to keep a lid on the obvious euphoria many would be feeling. He would have been properly annoyed at conceding two, even in a romping victory.

As a professional, clean sheets are important. They’re a sign you’re working together as a team, as keen to keep goals out as you are to contribute as a group to scoring.

In a league situation, not least the Premier League, conceded goals can end up making the difference to where you finish, or even whether you remain in the division. They matter in the group stage of a tournament for the same reason. That’s why England’s 6-2 was good, but flawed, and why the 0-0 was flawed, but good.

Some fans have short memories; it was only in June last year that England ended a second group game at a tournament with a 0-0 draw that led to a backlash. That was against Scotland in the Euros. Of course, England then reached a final that was settled on penalties.

The Three Lions have a tremendous amount of depth to call upon throughout the competition

The Three Lions have a tremendous amount of depth to call upon throughout the competition

The end result in Qatar is what matters and what England should be judged on, and the process was never going to be smooth. If you’re a football fan you should know that’s not how football works!

England needed a good start and they delivered it. I was confident before the match and last week name-checked specific players who I expected to thrive — including Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Raz Sterling and Marcus Rashford. And they did.

You need a strong squad to go deep into tournaments and England have one. You need players who can make an impact when they come on, and they did

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