Gareth Southgate has often faced scrutiny for being too cautious on team selection, but the England manager seems to have no problem getting the best out of his players on the biggest stage.
Under Soutgate’s stewardship, England have averaged 2.57 goals per game at the World Cup, having netted 18 times in just seven games. If the Three Lions score twice more in Qatar, Southgate will have overseen the most goals by an England manager at the World Cup.
During his 14 World Cup games in charge, inaugural England manager Walter Winterbottom saw his side score 19 times across four tournaments. Southgate’s record, however, is more impressive considering that, between 2002 and 2014, England played in four World Cups under Sven-Göran Eriksson, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson but scored just 17 goals in total across those tournaments, averaging a solitary goal per game.
Critics may point to a lack of quality of opposition but, for example, Iran (who England routed 6-2 on Monday) are currently ranked 20th by FIFA and haven’t conceded more than three goals in a game at the World Cup since 1978. For context, Eriksson’s England scored just twice in 2006 against Trinidad and Tobago, a team currently ranked outside the top 100.
Factoring in World Cup and European Championship tournaments, England have scored 29 goals under Southgate’s management, a record by some margin.
Matt Hearn | GWFN