The appointment of Gareth Southgate as England head coach was greeted by a lukewarm reception by the majority of Three Lions fans. The former Middlesbrough had a decent record with the under 21 team.
However, he had a reputation for being Mr Nice and some questioned if he had the steel to be successful as England boss.
While his reign as England boss has not been an unqualified success, there have been signing he is moving the team in the right direction in recent games.
Big changes to the starting line-up
On Friday night, Southgate’s side pulled off a deserved 1-0 win in Amsterdam against a very poor Netherlands side. Apart from the opposition’s poor display, the main talking point was that Southgate made some big changes to his starting line-up.
The England boss decided to field the pace of Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and match-winner Jesse Lingard in attack. The choice was made easier by the absence of injured star striker Harry Kane.
However, the decision to field the trio meant that the likes of Dele Alli and Jamie Vardy had to settle for cameo appearances as substitutes. In truth, the pacey energetic trio caused the Dutch defence problems and looked a constant threat. The only goal of the game came from a coolly taken effort from Lingard in the second half.
The most surprising decision the England made was to select Manchester City full-back Kyle Walker as one of the three centre-backs. The former Spurs star had a good game alongside City teammate John Stones.
Another chance to experiment on Tuesday night
England host Italy on Tuesday night at Wembley, which will give Southgate another chance to experiment with his available options. The likes of Burnley duo Nick Pope and James Tarkowski, along with Swansea centre-back Alfie Mawson will be hopeful of Three Lions debuts.
A friendly game against an underwhelming Dutch side does not prove much. However, at least now there seems to be a positive vibe about the England team, something that can only be positive with a World Cup just a few months away.
Can Gareth Southgate move the England team forward?