Gareth Southgate has long believed England can play technically proficient, possession football on the biggest stage – now they must prove it in their World Cup opener against Tunisia on Monday.
Former Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and England centre-back Southgate was parachuted into the national team job following Sam Allardyce's ignominious sacking in 2016, despite having not held a senior coaching position since being sacked by Boro on the other side of relegation in 2009.
But the 47-year-old honed his craft and methodology under the employ of the Football Association and a stint in charge of England Under-21s positioned him to pick up the pieces after Allardyce fell foul of a newspaper sting.
Southgate has brought an England team to Russia more certain and defined in their style of play than any in recent memory, having settled upon a flexible 3-1-4-2 formation.
Nevertheless, Monday's assignment in Volgograd remains the acid test.
"The players have really embraced it. I think they like playing possession football," Southgate told a pre-match news conference.
"That's the way they play with their clubs, although there are tactical nuances between each coach.
"They have a hunger to press and win the ball back. They want to play brave football and be a bold and attacking team.
"That's the way I want us to play and that's the reason I joined the FA as Under-21 coach – I believed young English players could show something different.
"There was a perception across the world and a perception of English football. I thought it was possible to change that.
"I've seen without youth teams that's started to happen and now we're looking to convert that into the senior team."
The relatively low initial expectations and building enthusiasm around Southgate's youthful squad stands in stark contrast to the star names from earlier this century, who failed to match weighty demands from Three Lions supporters.
"I think the history can help us in terms of understanding what we can improve upon and what we can do better. You learn lessons from the past," Southgate said.
"This team shouldn't be burdened with it because they're a fresh group. Most of them have very few international caps so the future is all ahead of them.
"They've got to be thinking about what is possible. The players of the past and the opportunities of the past are gone.
"This team is looking at things in a different way, trying to play in a different way. We have better technical players than we've had in the past coming through our academies.
"There is a real enthusiasm and they're looking forward to getting going."
23 de febrero 2019
|Brilliant Bencic outlasts Kvitova to complete week of Dubai upsets|
|Sevilla 2 Barcelona 4: Messi hat-trick saves LaLiga leaders|
|Bournemouth 1 Wolves 1: King goes from penalty hero to villain|
|Newcastle United 2 Huddersfield Town 0: Magpies four clear of drop as Almiron sparkles|
|Zazai and Afghanistan smash records galore in thumping victory over Ireland|
|Dyche: Burnley have restored key core values|
|Kohli warns India over ´bad habits´ in IPL|
|Bayern Munich 1 Hertha Berlin 0: Martinez sends champions level at top|
|France bounce back as Scotland suffer familiar Paris pain|
|It was obvious! - Lloris furious at Dean decision|
|Maybe the cables crossed in my brain - Pochettino explains Dean row|
|Captaining Ireland an incredible honour - O´Mahony|
|Zazai´s 162 leads Afghanistan to record T20I total|
|Benitez: Ashley and I need to be on the same page|
|Burnley 2 Tottenham 1: Barnes hits late winner after Kane´s goalscoring return|
|Simeone has no gripe with Ronaldo over Atletico Madrid insult|
|Icardi remains sidelined for Inter´s Fiorentina trip|
|Sangakkara leads Sri Lanka plaudits after historic triumph|
|Solari still committed to LaLiga title race|
|Allegri calls on Juventus to ´do something extraordinary´ after Atletico loss|
|DeRozan humbled by reception on bittersweet Raptors return|
|Du Plessis laments lacklustre Proteas display|
|Hard work pays off for Karunaratne´s Sri Lanka|
|De Laurentiis aims jibe at Juventus and Ronaldo|
|BREAKING NEWS: Kane returns for Spurs at Burnley|
|Champions Crusaders outclass Hurricanes|
|Sri Lanka make history with series win in South Africa|
|Mane: Putting pressure on ourselves won´t help Liverpool|
|Thunder´s George: That was a statement|
|Leclerc ready to battle for top Ferrari billing|
|Man United outing was a learning experience – Alexander-Arnold|
|Redknapp expects more twists as under-pressure Liverpool seek to end title drought|
|Chelsea v Manchester City: Myopic Blues should show Sarri faith regardless of Wembley result|
|Westbrook´s streak ends in Thunder win, Raptors best DeRozan in return|
|Johnson happy with patient approach in Mexico|
|Italy, Poland secure World Cup spots|
|Del Potro stunned, Isner through at Delray Beach|
|Klopp: Man United clash not decisive|
|Mbappe, Di Maria partnership pleases Tuchel|
|WATCH: Raptors pay tribute to DeRozan in return to Toronto|
|Trahan in three-way tie for lead in Puerto Rico|
|Trump on Kraft charge: He´s proclaimed his innocence totally|
|Van Uytvanck battles back to stay on course in Budapest|
|Johnson moves into lead, McIlroy two shots back|
|Arsenal must show intensity to get fans on side - Emery|
|Impressive Tsitsipas through to last four in Marseille|
|England fall in line to Cottrell as West Indies level ODI series|
|Fulham ´scared´ after Hernandez handball - Ranieri|
|Gattuso encouraged by AC Milan´s rampant second-half showing|
|City respond to allegations relating to Sancho deal|
|Wenger will not be new sporting director, insists PSG president|
|´You shouldn´t be refereeing´ - Warnock blasts official after heavy defeat|
|Neymar and Mbappe ´2,000 per cent´ staying at PSG|
22 de febrero 2019
|Saints rally to see off Rhinos but Warrington lead the way|
|Gloucester hand Saracens rare Premiership defeat|
|Munster keep the Ospreys grounded as Warriors demolish Connacht|
|I don´t know the meaning of Sarriball - Chelsea boss focused on results|
|Who is Robert Kraft? The New England Patriots owner who helped build an NFL dynasty|
|Cardiff City 1 Watford 5: Deulofeu and Deeney down Bluebirds|
|West Ham 3 Fulham 1: Hernandez´s handling sparks Hammers recovery|
|Three team members treated following McLaren garage fire|
|AC Milan 3 Empoli 0: Piatek´s hot streak continues as Rossoneri roll on|
|Controversy mars Hernandez´s milestone goal|
|Laporte 2025: New deal earned through winning habit from Man City´s pass master|
|Watford and Everton reach agreement over Silva|
|Hodgson inspired by Attenborough ahead of Premier League record|
|Chelsea will challenge Manchester City in EFL Cup final - Laporte|
|Wolff compares Ferrari new recruit Leclerc to young Hamilton|
|Messi not Sevilla´s only worry with Navas in doubt|
|Kvitova outlasts Hsieh, Bencic dumps out champion Svitolina|