Gareth Southgate ‘can’t give up’ on new attacking plan, insists Ian Wright

Gareth Southgate of England
Gareth Southgate of England / IMAGOI

Former Arsenal player Ian Wright says that England should stick to his attacking experiment despite its failure in the Three Lions 1-1 draw with Hungary.

Gareth Southgate fielded a very attacking lineup against Hungary in the World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday. The starting XI featured Harry Kane leading the front line with support from Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish, while attack-minded Mason Mount and Phil Foden added creativity from the midfield.

Despite the abundance of attacking talent in the side, the Three Lions created very few chances and were often left exposed in midfield because of the lack of a second holding midfielder alongside Declan Rice.

However, Wright believes the system should not be ditched at the first sign of weakness.

Speaking on ITV, the former England international insisted that England have the players to make such a tactic work in the long term. 

“We’ve got the quality of players to do it,” the former England striker said.

“It didn’t work today, and he changed it back. We had to adapt to them because we didn’t dominate the weaker side.

“But we can’t give up on it because we need to take the next step. We’ve got the players who are capable of doing it, but we need to have faith in them.”

Wright also praised Hungary, adding that England’s game-plan partially failed due to an excellent performance from the visitors, who took the lead through a Roland Sallai penalty.

“Credit to Hungary because we didn’t expect them to play as well as they did,’ Wright added. ‘They pressed from the front and kept their energy up throughout the entire game.”

The withdrawal of Jack Grealish, who looked like England’s most attacking player before his substitution, also disappointed Wright. 

“It was disappointing seeing Jack Grealish go off because he did have the attacking spark, but in the main, you just have to say they played well and we didn’t lose. But there’s a lot to think about.”

Meanwhile, former Arsenal player Lee Dixon, who was on ITV with Wright also praised the Hungary defence, stating that Southgate’s game plan could not drag them out of position.

“They were really well organised, and the shape was excellent.” Dixon said.

“England didn’t do enough to pull their full-backs out of position. Our wide people are so high, no room in behind, three centre backs got their line absolutely spot on. It’s very difficult to get through them.”

Despite the result, England remain firmly in control of their group. They need just four points from fixtures against Albania and San Marino to ensure the book their place in the tournament in Qatar.