‘Irregular’ results at the World Cup should give England even more confidence that they can go on and win it, says Jamie Carragher.
Along with wins for France and Spain, who met Costa Rica for seven on Wednesday night, England are one of the few teams to have made an early declaration of intent after beating Iran 6-2 in their opening game.
Since then there have been shock defeats for Argentina and Germany, who lost to Saudi Arabia and Japan respectively, while other popular players like Denmark and Croatia stuttered to draw 0-0 in their first matches.
England should gain credence in the ‘erratic’ results of others in Qatar, says Jamie Carragher
Argentina was stunned by Saudi Arabia in one of the biggest World Cup shocks in history
The 2014 champions, Germany, also started their campaign with a loss following a 2-1 defeat to Japan
That ‘unpredictability’ coupled with the fact that a number of top international teams appear to be in a moment of transition, Carragher believes a window has opened for England to strike.
“Shocking results reflect how many teams are in transition and the difficulties coaches have had in getting their rosters to a successful conclusion without a long build-up, especially with many injuries,” Carragher wrote in his Telegraph column.
Unpredictability is good news for England and the tournament, making it exciting. It’s still very early days – we need a bigger sample than one match – but it already feels that once the knockout stage comes around, anyone can beat anyone.’
It remains a small sample for England, with their next game against the United States not until Friday night, so more will be deduced from that as to where England falls in the contenders.
But Carragher, who won 38 caps for England during his career, remains adamant that the early shocks will have added confidence to this English group.
He added: ‘[Gareth] Southgate knows there are tough obstacles to overcome – and will be realistic about the weaknesses in his favored starting eleven – but he will be heartened that so many fanatical teams are in trouble.
The ‘unpredictability’ of matches will suit England well in the coming games, according to Carragher
“The erratic results since England’s victory have put into perspective just how difficult tournament football can be.”
England round out Group B with games against the United States on Friday and Wales on Tuesday, with ambitions to win the group on their way to the last 16.
Southgate guided England to the semi-finals of the World Cup four years ago, narrowly losing to Croatia on that occasion, and to the Euro 2020 final, where the Three Lions lost to Italy on penalties.
With young stars such as Jude Bellingham, who scored his first goal for England in the victory over Iran, and Bukayo Saka, he has added flair to his group from 2018 onwards and the struggles of teams such as Argentina and Germany will be applauded.
Despite failing to score in the opening game, captain Harry Kane’s availability feels paramount to England’s deep run hopes.
He was forced out with an ankle problem in the win over Iran, but the Tottenham striker has allayed fears about his condition after returning to full training on Thursday.
Harry Kane (right) returned to full training on Thursday in a boost for England boss Southgate
After training individually on Wednesday, he was fit enough to rejoin the group in Al Wakrah on Thursday.
“He’s good, he worked a little more individually on Wednesday, but on Thursday he’ll be back with the team and good for the game,” boss Gareth Southgate told ITV.
“We just checked him, just to see. I think sometimes it’s important to know exactly what’s there when you’re dealing with things and that was all good.
“It’s not so much the ankle. It’s more the foot. It was actually a bad challenge, but luckily I think we took it fairly lightly.”
England play the United States at Al Bayt Stadium on Friday at 7pm BST.