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."
17 de febrero 2019
|Ramos red card an ´occupational hazard´, says Solari|
|Dan Carter to make Racing 92 return|
|Ashton ruled out for Wales clash|
|Nuno hails cup win as ´moment of joy´|
|Marcelo v Reguilon: Real Madrid mainstay losing left-back battle|
|Marcelo is an institution - Eusebio denies targeting Real Madrid left-back|
|I´d rather surround myself with people I really like - Osaka explains coach split|
|We do not have to kill Real Madrid forever - Odriozola|
|Bristol City 0 Wolves 1: Cavaleiro repeats cup heroics|
|Blackburn Rovers 0 Middlesbrough 1: Assombalonga strengthens Boro´s play-off credentials|
|Coman restricted to light training ahead of Liverpool clash|
|Solari refuses to concede LaLiga title race is over|
|Courtois: Real Madrid could not control Girona|
|Weary Kvitova reflects on ´crushing´ start to 2019|
|Umtiti in Barcelona squad to face former club Lyon|
|It´s hard to take - Maxwell laments Stars´ stunning Big Bash defeat|
|Pogba: Manchester United emulating ´Class of 92´|
|Real Madrid 1 Girona 2: Stuani and Portu seal stunning comeback|
|Boult, Mahmudullah fined by ICC|
|Neymar Senior: No chance of PSG star facing Manchester United|
|Broad expects sledging to subside in 2019 Ashes|
|Aguero targets historic quadruple|
|Scholes backs Solskjaer for Man United job|
|Finch hails ´special´ Renegades comeback|
|Sydney FC 1 Central Coast Mariners 1: Le Fondre strike averts shock defeat|
|Fox soars in Perth final to win World Super 6|
|Williams delay start to pre-season testing|
|Renegades crowned BBL champions after stunning Stars collapse|
|What we learned from NBA All-Star Saturday|
|Kaepernick´s attorney tips Patriots to make move for QB|
|Tebow: I told Murray to follow his heart|
|Mourinho created unhealthy atmosphere – Sanchez|
|Santa Cruz defends belt against Rivera|
|Opelka, Isner set ATP Tour record at New York Open|
|Diallo soars over Shaq to win Slam Dunk contest|
|WATCH: Diallo dunks over Shaquille O´Neal|
|Silver: NBA trade requests should stay behind closed doors|
|´It´s more of an aspiration´ – LeBron clears up potential NBA ownership|
|Harris wins Three-Point contest ahead of Curry|
|Thomas leads rain-delayed Genesis Open|
|Tatum wins NBA Skills Challenge with stunning half-court shot|
|Robben: Anfield is the worst stadium|
|Valverde not nervous about Messi penalties after spot-kick miss|
|Sanchez ´worried´ amid Man United struggles|
|Schoeman hat-trick sees Lions past Jaguares|
|Piatek lives to score goals - Milan striker´s brilliant double pleases Gattuso|
|Lyon will punish Barca in this form, Pique warns|
|Guardiola lauds Silva´s ´incredible´ FA Cup performance|
|Clermont hit the top, Perpignan finally win|
|Schwartzman saves match point to down Thiem in Buenos Aires|
16 de febrero 2019
|Leinster withstand Zebre test as Connacht claim big win|
|Antonio Brown: Roethlisberger has owner mentality and you can´t call him out|
|Pizarro becomes Bundesliga´s oldest ever goalscorer|
|Wawrinka ends 20-month wait for final to book Monfils showdown|
|Barcelona 1 Real Valladolid 0: Hit and miss as Messi gets job done|
|Atalanta 1 AC Milan 3: Two-goal Piatek lands blow in fight for fourth|
|NBA, FIBA link up to start 12-team league in Africa|
|Guardiola proud of ´incredible´ City after Newport win|
|Worst pitch I´ve played on - Manchester City hero Foden unimpressed with Newport surface|
|LeBron James, Derek Jeter lead praise for retiring Yankees legend CC Sabathia|
|Durant happy for Porzingis but guarded on his own future|
|Newport County 1 Manchester City 4: Foden nets brace as upset is averted|
|Simeone plans Griezmann, Costa, Morata trident|
|Stephen Curry reveals three-point contest bet with brother Seth|
|Celtics, Lakers, Knicks on Anthony Davis´ list, along with 26 others|
|Mertens fights back to defeat Halep for her biggest WTA title|
|Championship Review: Norwich hit four as Baggies & Blades cruise|
|Sala mourned at funeral in Argentina|
|Costa thrilled to make Atletico return at old club Rayo|
|Specman´s spectacular debut double leads Bulls in Stormers thrashing|