It is that time of year when cautious optimism begins to creep in. The tide turns on England’s prospects, the no hopers become the outside bet. Maybe this group of players, under this manager can perform at a major tournament?
In many ways, it is the same this time around, despite Lorenzo Insigne’s late penalty at Wembley to deny England a sixth successive clean sheet. Gareth Southgate’s inauspicious start has been largely forgotten, as England have become a defensive force and a side with attacking verve, not overly reliant on Harry Kane. The manager is at ease with the press, his players look comfortable and he commands the respect of his men.