The best way for England to approach Euro 2024? All-out attack

An all-out attack could be England’s best option at the Euros given the wealth of talent available to Gareth Southgate and the defensive uncertainty.

Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham, to name a few, have all had incredible seasons at club level and if they can translate that onto the international stage, England could become one of the most feared sides in the become competition. However, finding the right balance will not be easy.

Southgate’s success with England has been built on strong foundations. He is a defensive-minded manager and he cannot be criticized for that, having taken England to a European Championship final and a World Cup semi-final, but never before has he had such an exciting group of attackers to choose from. It’s easier said than done when you’re up against the continent’s best, but it would make sense to change old habits and go for it. He may see it as a risk, but it would be a calculated risk.

Everyone witnessed Foden embrace the responsibilities that come with being a number 10 for a top club and I would like to see him play more centrally for his country, where he can do the most damage. England need to capitalize on the form Foden has shown in the Premier League and give him the freedom to hurt opponents.

He was at the center of everything within a fantastic Manchester City team, which led to a fourth consecutive title. Even if you hadn’t seen what he had done all season, he summed up his qualities on the last day as they won the title. These are pressure games and in the opening three minutes he had created a chance from nowhere and fired a shot into the top corner to take City one step closer to the title. If he can have the same impact for England it could be seismic.

Kane is a guaranteed starter, reaching another peak with 44 goals in all competitions in his first season at Bayern Munich. The move to Germany hasn’t derailed his prolific scoring record and a year at a club like Bayern can only help his growth. He will be excited when the players behind him create chances. Saka has nine goal assists in the Premier League this season and has scored 16 as he continues to flourish.

This is the most exciting and attacking England team we have ever seen. Bellingham has just won La Liga with Real Madrid. Playing as a number 10 for much of the season under Carlo Ancelotti, but sometimes as a false 9, he is another attacking player in the mix. For all his potential going forward, Bellingham isn’t the best defensively, but that will never be his strength, so trying to sit him out won’t work. He has become one of Europe’s best thanks to his late runs that saw him score 19 goals in La Liga last season.

Any team with Kane, Saka, Foden and Bellingham would be exciting to watch. Personally, I would love to see Cole Palmer start as he too has been incredible this season after moving from Manchester City to Chelsea, scoring 33 goals in 34 Premier League appearances (22 goals and 11 assists). That would be if Bellingham drops back to play with Declan Rice in a 4-2-3-1, but this could be too adventurous for Southgate. But I think when you have a group like this, playing in the best form can make the difference. That front four radiates confidence.

However, Southgate often prefers to field an experienced team in major tournaments, knowing that those who have collected a large number of caps can rise to the occasion.

This will be a top-heavy team in terms of attacking players. That’s where the highest quality lies, leaving Southgate wondering how to bring balance. He will have to be tactically smart to get the right answers, and that is not easy when the team has been together for such a short time. The players, including Guardiola, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Tuchel, are used to working in complex systems, but they will have to take on their various responsibilities quickly.
The potential problems in defense add to the complexity of what Southgate faces. He will have to decide whether he wants to be more motivated to counteract the sensitivity at the back, or to provide extra protection. Without a natural second defensive midfielder, there will be a lot of pressure on Rice to provide the protection the defense needs, especially one that will start without a recognized left-back and with a centre-back who has not played together regularly.

Southgate will have to be smart to ensure that the release of his attackers does not leave England overly open at the back. One solution would be to play Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, although this would be a difficult choice as it would be difficult to leave out Kyle Walker or Stones at centre-back, where they can move into midfield alongside the midfielder. Rice, giving Bellingham a better chance to advance.

There are also tough choices to be made for the back-up on the bench – an indication of how good the England players have been this season. Ollie Watkins would be my choice for Kane’s understudy. He scored 19 for Aston Villa and assisted a further 13, the most in the Premier League, to secure Champions League football for his club. Watkins is likely one of a group of forward thinkers desperate to make an impact from the bench. We may see Anthony Gordon, Eberechi Eze and Palmer in that role. They could all be game changers.

Every fan would love to see the England men’s team go for it at a major tournament for the first time in a long time. It might make Southgate a little uncomfortable as it goes against what he has built for England in the past, but it could provide the extra edge needed at major tournaments.

Karen Carney