What I admire most about this manager is that he does not get swayed by public opinion, he does not get swayed by the press. Nobody has picked his team yet so it is obvious that he is not listening to the outside. I think that was a big problem with former England managers and certainly managers that I had.
They were obsessed too much about public opinion, the media, who should play, who is in form. The one everyone was championing at the start of this tournament was Jack Grealish. There is always one. But he did not bow to the pressure. He stuck to what he believed in.
I think that is a great trait in any manager but certainly an England manager when the whole media is obsessed with the team selection. The calmness that Gareth shows is a great trait.
The debate is for us and we all look clever or stupid after our newspaper columns, interviews or tweets after the game. We are all there to be shot at now, we all think we are managers. What you don’t want is for England managers to get involved in the debate.
Some read the back pages too much. A player is in form and they think they need to get them in the team, find a place for them. No, you don’t. You are paid to manage the England team and he more than justifies his pay packet.
So, did the system work?
The system worked because they won and there were not that many chances that they conceded. It was not like they played a different system and they were all over the place.
I watched France a few days ago and they played three at the back and they looked like they did not have a clue what they were doing. The opposition caused them real problems because of that system. I don’t think that was the case here.
Having said that, England had been playing a back four and not conceded many chances anyway. They had conceded one goal in eight games with that system so giving up goals had never been a problem in the old system.
Did it take time to adjust?
The players going into the game would have been a little bit nervous and excited and the first 10 minutes I think would have really shocked them how well Germany played.
Very few of the players had a touch and when a game starts, certainly a game of that magnitude, you want to get your first touch, get that confidence going, make a couple of passes. But a few of the lads gave the ball away, Germany were breaking and keeping the ball really well, playing out from the back.
I was watching the game with my son and I was saying that we have all been there when you don’t get a kick in the first 10 minutes. Sometimes you can really freeze, it really gets to you and you never get out of it.
What changed for England?
I actually thought that Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka got England out of it by going on little runs and winning free-kicks. I thought it was vital what they did from minute 12 or 13.
It just got the team up the pitch, allowed England to get the ball into the box and created a little bit of danger at the other end. It just turned the tide, gave them the confidence to make some passes and for the next 15 minutes of the game England were in the ascendancy before Germany came into it just before half-time and had that chance with Timo Werner.
The Timo Werner one was a good chance.
I think you could argue that Jordan Pickford has been the best goalkeeper in the tournament or certainly close to it. He has not conceded a goal and he has made vital saves when called upon.
I think a lot of people were worried about him because when you watch him in the Premier League at times you think that he is maybe going to take his form to England. But when you think about Jordan Pickford in an England shirt, he has never let England down.
He has done more than not let them, he has been outstanding.
You think of his role in penalty shoot-outs going back to the last World Cup, his distribution from the back as well, that is always the reason why he plays ahead of other goalkeepers who people deem to be better in terms of shot-stopping. But if you judge him in an England shirt, he has been outstanding. He has delivered in real pressure moments.
If that Timo Werner chance goes in it is a different game so that was a vital save.
Who else impressed?
Harry Maguire is our best centre-back by a long way. He adds composure and calmness with his defending, also on the ball. It was the right decision for him to come straight in. Tyrone Mings did really well but Maguire brings something nobody else can bring.
I am a huge Raheem Sterling fan too and a lot of the talk going into the tournament was that he would not play. But whenever I was picking my England team it was always Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and one other in that front three.
There was no way you could go into that first game without the pace and penetration that he offers running in behind, especially if Kane is going to be the centre-forward because he needs that now with the way he is playing.
Sterling’s goal record in the last couple of years for Southgate is off the scale so the fact that he was being questioned I could not believe. He is an outstanding player.
He has been England’s best player in this tournament by a mile and the way that he is going he will not be far off winning player of the tournament if England keep going to the final and he is getting goals. That is the impact that he has had.
But more needed from Kane…
I am not for going to town on Harry Kane. He is the player I have loved most who does not wear a red shirt – well, certainly him and Kevin De Bruyne – during the last seven or eight years I have been working at Sky. I have maybe done more pieces on Monday Night Football on Harry Kane than on anyone else.
But at the moment the rhetoric around him from a lot of people is that the other players are not creating chances and not getting him into the game enough.
He has got to do more himself. That is my problem with it. The onus is always on the other players. Harry Kane needs to do more himself.
If Harry Kane is given chances he will score. He had one in the first half that he missed, one in the second half that he scored. I think most strikers would say that scoring one in two chances is pretty good. So I have no problem with that.
But he has not created enough for himself. His pressing, I thought it was too easy for Mats Hummels on the ball. Also, getting involved in the game, getting on the ball, getting touches.
I know you can argue he is not getting service but I have seen Harry Kane in games before where maybe Spurs are away and he is not getting a lot of the ball but he is still a huge threat when holding the ball up, using his body.
How often have I described him as streetwise? He is one of the most streetwise players in the Premier League and he gets criticised by opposition fans for that but I love it. Getting free-kicks, making it difficult for the opposition. This is what I am talking about, not so much about whether he has scored.
Harry Kane normally takes five or six games to get up to speed at the start of a season and it is not a problem because everyone knows it is going to come. It is slightly different in tournaments because it is about the here and now. England could have gone out if Timo Werner scores that goal. I just think he needs to bring a bit more to it.
Can England get more out of him? Yes. But what more can Harry Kane do because it is not a one-off game now, it is a bit of a pattern.
What I hope, listening to Alan Shearer, Jurgen Klinsmann and Gary Lineker after the game, three great strikers, they know what it feels like to get off the mark in a big tournament and I just hope it can re-energise him because he has just looked tired and fatigued at the end of a long season.
I get that. But I just hope we see a re-energised Harry Kane because I think the situation England are in now, they have a great chance of winning this. But I still feel they need Harry Kane closer to his best than he has been in the last three or four games for that to happen.
What needs to change for Kane?
He is coming deeper now. Most attacking players when they don’t have the energy, the strength or the pace or they are losing their legs a little bit, they start coming deeper for the ball and don’t make those runs in behind.
Kane has done that to great effect this season. It is unbelievable how he has changed his game. He was very unlucky not to win player of the year in the Premier League. I think after one game I actually called him one of the best passers of the ball in the world on commentary. I think it was against West Ham when he was coming deep and putting Heung-Min Son in.
So if that is his game now, fine. But if he is coming deeper then you would expect him to be more involved. Fewer touches in the box but getting on the ball and being more involved in midfield. The fact that he is coming deeper but still not getting involved – he only had a couple of touches in the first 36 minutes – that is a slight problem.
I would like him more involved because if Harry Kane is anywhere near his best then I think England will win this tournament.
And perhaps a start for Grealish…
I don’t think it should be the case that just because of what you have done in the last game means you have to start the next game. I think the manager has shown now that he will change a winning system. It is about what is right for that game.
Gareth will know more about Ukraine than any of us in the next few days. If playing Jack Grealish as a number 10 or playing him wide left because of Ukraine’s holding midfielder or their right-back or the rest of the England team that he picks, I am sure he will go with that.
I think he will change the system a bit because this is possibly a game where the onus will be on England more to take the game to Ukraine or be the one in possession a lot more. That plays into Grealish’s hands so I think he has a really good chance of playing.
I think the system will go back to four at the back. I actually think Mason Mount will come back into the picture and it will be the 4-3-3 that we have seen for the majority of the tournament.
With Raheem Sterling doing well on the right when he went there, it does give Jack Grealish that opportunity to come in from that left side. Saka has done really well but he may feel something else is needed because Jack has been so creative when he has come on.
Euro 2020 glory for England?
It does look doable. I actually felt before the tournament that there was a great chance for this team to reach the semi-final because of the way the draw was set up.
We knew they had to beat a Germany, Portugal or France and we knew that would be difficult because England historically, going back since 1966, had never beaten a top team in 90 minutes in a knockout stage. This was the first time. The fact that we have done it, the belief from that, playing at Wembley in a semi-final and final, it is a great chance, obviously.
They could not have picked anyone better than Ukraine next. I think even of the two teams they would have preferred Ukraine to Sweden. It almost feels like it has fallen in their lap.
It still won’t be easy. Going to Rome, just that uprooting, you are not in your familiar surroundings, that could have a bearing on the game. But there was no way they could have picked anyone better.
If the semi-final is against the Danes, that will be a tough game. I have been impressed with them in this tournament for obvious reasons. If you get to the final, it will be one of the big hitters on that side, Belgium, Italy or Spain.
But with the confidence that England will have, they are favourites now and I don’t see that changing.