Tonight sees the final part of Gareth Southgate’s four match audition for the job of England manager on a permanent basis, his final act is to lead England against 2010 World Cup winners Spain at Wembley and he will hoping that he can end his stint on a high and enhance his chances of earning the role on a full time basis.
Friday night saw Southgate lead England to a 3-0 win over Scotland in The Battle Of Britain a battle which in fairness was more of a minor scuffle. England weren’t great but the opposition wasn’t either and although a trio of headers were the difference the game was closer than the scoreline suggests.
In the three competitive fixtures that England have played under Southgate they have picked up seven points from nine, on the surface it makes for impressive reading but when you look at the opposition that they have faced it someone takes the shine of the efforts of Southgate and his men.
Southgate himself has said that he would like the decision of who will be the next England manager made within the next month. A win tonight will certainly help his cause but you get the feeling has already been made and bar a total disaster then the former Middlesbrough manager will get the job permanently.
He will have to do without Wayne Rooney who was injured in training yesterday and therefore Jordan Henderson makes the step up to Captain this evening. That makes England even lighter in the forward department what with Harry Kane going home on Monday to aid his own recovery for Tottenham who face West Ham on Saturday evening.
Their opposition Spain travel to Wembley off the back of a comfortable 4-0 win over Macedonia on Saturday. That win sees them stay top of their group although that is only by virtue of goal difference with Italy also on 10 points with Israel just a further point behind.
If he starts tonight a key man for Spain will be Sevilla’s Vitolo. The forward has scored twice in Spain’s last three World Cup qualifiers with goals against Italy and Macedonia as he continues this impressive start to the season for both club and country
Ander Herrera made his Spain debut last week and will be looking to add to that cap when going up against familiar opposition. This is a much changed Spain squad with no Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos or Andres Iniesta who all miss out through injury.
Another man who misses out is Diego Costa he withdraw from the Spanish squad last week but don’t be too surprised if this is one of those ‘international injuries’ and he is fit and raring to go when Chelsea return to Premier League action at the weekend.
As for the result well England are obviously going to want to get a result against some proper opposition but with it being a friendly you cannot read all that much into the result. Expect the usual raft of substitutions in the second half which will bring the games momentum to somewhat of a crawl. In that instance all you can do is sit back and tell yourself that international football is nearly on the back burner until March.
Regardless of the result the real winner will be Gareth Southgate who will go on to become the next permanent England boss. Some may say that he has got the job by default and that may well be the case but as a nation it’s what we have got so we may as well all get behind him. Best of luck for Tonight and beyond Gareth.