The major talking point from England’s two recent Nations League games against Netherlands and Switzerland has been about the Three Lions’ struggles playing out of defence.
Against Ronald Koeman’s side particularly, a side who press high and really aggressively, England found it difficult, with John Stones making a very costly mistake at the back.
And while the Manchester City man has since come in for a lot of criticism, Gary Neville believes Gareth Southgate’s midfielders also need to shoulder a lot of the blame.
“The midfield was not ideal against Netherlands. Declan Rice, Fabian Delph, Ross Barkley. That is not an international midfield, whichever way we look at it,” Neville wrote in his Sky Sports column.
“The hardest thing in football is to beat a man with your back to play, but the very best players can do so,” the Manchester United legend started to explain before going on to highlight the need of a certain Tottenham man.
“Gareth doesn’t have the players at his disposal. Harry Winks is a must moving forward; he was outstanding in the Champions League final, and looked a different level. It’s quite simple for Gareth, he needs to progress the Winks and Fodens of this world.”
Considering what Southgate is trying to do with this England squad, undoubtedly, Winks’ absence was felt.
Winks is exceptional at helping his team get out and transition from defence to attack. He can drop deep and before even collecting the ball, he knows where he is going to play it.
In short, he is a great receiver of the ball, and that is a quality midfielders need for the style Southgate is trying to implement.
Neville said “the hardest thing in football is to beat a man with your back to play”, to look over your shoulder and see where they are before outwitting them, in essence.
Assessing Southgate’s current options in the engine room, you will find it hard to find a midfielder who is more skilled than Winks when it comes to that.