Gareth Southgate’s young England side held Brazil to an incredible goalless draw at Wembley on Tuesday night, with the England manager showering praise on his squad after their performance against such a tough side.
The 47-year-old was appointed permanent England manager almost a year ago, after a four-game trial transition in the aftermath of Sam Allardyce’s 67-day tenure and has shaken off initial labels of himself and shown the courage of his convictions to make tough decisions.
The team are still a work in progress and even with Harry Kane’s absence, their back-to-back goalless draws against the two best sides in the world, is proof enough of how improved they are, as they fought admirably to the last during this match.
During Roy Hodgson’s four years in charge he facilitated a significant overhaul of the squad, driving down the average age within the team, but Southgate has accelerated that process.
The youthful back three consisting of man-of-the-match Joe Gomez, John Stones and Harry Maguire had their work cut out against a dominant Brazil side led by Neymar and Gabriel Jesus, but they grew with confidence and were phenomenal.
“I think and hope that the English public have seen that these boys have given everything, they’ve played with pride and passion. I would hope there’s more of a connection, it felt like there was one there tonight between supporters and team,” Southgate proudly said.
“We’re rebuilding. Brazil are close to the finished article. They’re a settled team and an outstanding team and it will take some team to stop them next summer. But we will take huge belief from what we’ve done.
“I’m more proud of them tonight as I think we’ve played the best team in the world, with their best team out. And we’ve come away with a really creditable result.
“We can look at areas to improve but again we’ve found so many positives in terms of players promoted to this level for the first time and performing well, and it’s not going to get much tougher than it did tonight.”