New England system impresses Southgate

Gareth Southgate

England manager Gareth Southgate says he was “very pleased” with the way his side adapted to a new system during a friendly defeat by Germany.

A stunning Lukas Podolski strike handed Germany a 1-0 win in Dortmund.

Southgate said he decided England would play 3-4-3 “about six weeks ago” – using a three-man defence for the first time since a loss to Croatia in 2006.

“We have to reflect on a very good performance,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5 live.

Following his first game as permanent England boss, the 46-year-old added: “In these matches it’s important that you learn something from the game, and it’s important that the level of performance is high.

“It was a good way to impose ourselves on them, to have attacking positions which could cause them problems and that’s how it panned out.”

However, Southgate said he has a squad at his disposal capable of playing “a number of systems”.

“We were a threat on the counter-attack, but we could also pass through them as well,” he added.

“We have exciting wide players if we want to play with wingers, and it’s very much horses for courses. We can see the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.”

Debutant Keane ‘excellent’

Burnley defender Michael Keane was one of three debutants to feature against Germany and Southgate said the 24-year-old was “excellent”.

“He took his club form on to the international stage, passed the ball well and showed super composure,” said the England boss. “He should be very pleased.”

Keane, who said he felt comfortable in a back three, told BBC Radio 5 live: “It was a brilliant experience for me to play such a big team on my debut.

“I’m playing with a lot of experience around me, always talking to me and getting me in the right positions.

“We’re talking about being adaptable. So we need to be able to change our formation, maybe even mid-game to give ourselves the best chance of winning the game.

“It is something the manager is looking at. I think eventually we will go back to four, but it’s good to have the three in the locker as well.”

Adam Lallana went closest for England in the first half when he hit the post, but the Liverpool midfielder says his focus has now switched to Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

“I thought 3-4-3 worked really well, we can adapt and have a different option to go to in the future,” said the 28-year-old.

“Ultimately, Sunday is the most important game and we will have a good game-plan to attack that game.

“There is a lot for me to improve on, I enjoyed the system. It allowed individuals to express themselves in areas of the pitch where they felt comfortable.”

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