Today FIFA issued their first World Rankings list since the World Cup and England are up 6 places to number 6.
Southgate’s side are moving up the rankings
How well the rankings reflect a sides prospects is debatable, but seeing new World Champions France at number 1 & Belgium at 2 suggests the new system is working.
Gareth Southgate said before disembarking from Russia in July, that England were below ‘the best 4 or 5 sides on the world’ but beating everyone else. Under Southgate England have played 5 games against the teams ranked above them in the new rankings, from those games England have no wins, 1 draw and 4 losses. Against everyone else Southgate’s results reads 14 wins, 5 draws, 1 loss, England’s ranking looks nigh on perfect.
As we saw at the World Cup, England’s next step is to find that passing midfield player that lacked in the summer. Jordan Henderson isn’t quite that player at the highest level, Jack Wilshere is too unreliable, Adam Lallana is struggling for match fitness and Jonjo Shelvey isn’t good enough. The answer will likely come from youth with James Maddison the latest prospect to catch the eye in the Premier League, Southgate will start the auditions in September.
Maddison is making an early seasona case for a cap
But for now England’s improved ranking shows more evidence of a side heading in the right direction.