Gareth Southgate looks back at past year as he plans England’s future

• Southgate keen to build on promising foundations
• England manager pleased with upbeat, relaxed mood in camp

Gareth Southgate allowed himself a moment to contemplate all that had been achieved over the calendar year. The more rousing occasions tripped off the tongue, from a World Cup semi-final to that eye-catching victory in Spain and progress through a daunting three-team section into the inaugural Nations League finals.

Less memorable, perhaps, was the friendly win over Switzerland which had felt rather unconvincing at the time but, he said, had demonstrated his squad’s ability to recover from the lull of September and the exhausted anticlimax after the summer’s adrenaline rush. Everything since has been, to quote the manager, “really top”. The team’s style and philosophy have been further ingrained, with an admirable dynamism to the side. New players have been assimilated and form coaxed from more established personnel. Southgate was speaking in the aftermath of Harry Kane’s dramatic late winner against Croatia. It was good to bask in it all for a while.

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