Easy qualifying does not help England

Gareth Southgate won't abandon England's style of play despite the costly mistakes made in their Nations League semi-final defeat.

With England on the verge of an unbeaten decade of qualifying the question has to be asked, do qualifiers really help the national side improve?

The Three Lions are preparing for Tuesday night’s encounter at St Mary’s Stadium with Kosovo in qualifying for Euro 2020.

If England avoid they will have gone the decade without losing a single one of their qualifiers.

That’s 41 qualifying games, with 32 victories and the rest stalemates.

It all sounds very impressive but they haven’t managed to land any trophies in that space of time, with their semi-final appearance at last year’s World Cup the only real highlight in tournament football.

The fact that the Three Lions have failed time and time again to win a trophy, having gone almost a decade without losing a qualifier, highlights two things.

Firstly that it could well be a mental problem, that when it comes to major tournaments, England have just not had what it takes to get over the line.

Alternatively, the fact they rarely get challenged in qualifying has hindered the development of the national side and that’s potentially why they have been under cooked for major competitions.

Granted, current manager Gareth Southgate has got the England side in a good place and there were signs of serious development in their run to the last four in Russia last year.

But with qualifiers and with the Nations League coming in, the Football Association are limited in who they can really pick and choose the English senior side to face between tournaments.

Yes, there were plenty of complaints about international friendlies in the past, but the one positive was that countries could choose who they faced and England could test themselves against some of the best nations in the world.

Doing that on a regular basis and trying to get some form against those sides would appear to be a positive way for a team to move forward and develop.

Since the World Cup in Russia, England have played 11 matches and not a single one against a team in the current top-six in the FIFA world rankings.

It’s not England’s fault that this is the case and of course the same will apply for other teams across the world.

The only difference is that they likes of Spain, Portugal, Germany and France have tasted success in this decade, while England are still waiting to end the years of hurt.