Euro 2020 delay “blessing in disguise” to England, say Southgate

The unprecedented year-long delay of Europe’s largest soccer tournament Euro 2020 is a “blessing in disguise to England, according to the national team manager. This year’s European Championship, due to begin earlier this week, was postponed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be held across 12 European cities as originally planned.

England manager Gareth Southgate expects his side to be in a better position for next year’s actions. “At one point we were possibly looking at being without Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane, or at the very best both of those not having a lot of football,” Southgate told Sky Sports. Previously, England faces injury woes prior to postponement. 

England captain Harry Kane and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford would have been major doubts for the initial dates due to injury. “We have got certain positions where we are strong and certain positions where we don’t have that strength in depth,” he added. Kane was set to miss the remainder of the Premier League season for Tottenham as top-flight action resumes on 17 June.

“Maybe some of those things will be better in a year’s time, but other teams will be in the same”. Southgate also cited other team’s development, mentioning Germany’s Kai Havertz and young players to develop during the delay. “Difficult to predict, the age of the team you would hope would be better in a year’s time but we have to go and prove that on the pitch,” Southgate further added. 

The Three Lions were due to kick-off their group stage campaign this weekend with a tasty tie against Croatia at Wembley. Southgate, who has helped his national team to glory playing in a home tournament at Euro 96, hopes his side can use the home soil advantage to their benefit. England would play all of their group games at Wembley and then the semi-final and final there if they get that far.

“If the tournament is in the same format as was proposed for this year, and we don’t know that every city will be able to host, that is something that seems to be decided, we have an advantage in our group matches,” he said.  “But so do Italy, who play their games in Rome, Spain play in Bilbao, Holland play in Amsterdam. Southgate is “positive” that the national team will reach the semi-final and finals. 

Southgate led England to a first World Cup semi-final for 28 years in 2018 and has been linked with a return to club management at Tottenham and Manchester United over the past two years. When asked about how long he will stay as England’s manager, “I am not going to be England manager for 20 years. I would like to coach and manage for a reasonable period, I don’t know how long exactly,” he said. 

The most glorious 24-team European Championship, in celebration of the governing body’s 60th anniversary, was due to be taking place between June 12 and July 12 in countries all across the continent. Previously, UEFA has confirmed its intention to use the same 12 host cities for the event next year but has yet to confirm a schedule for matches.