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Southgate sees the bigger picture

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16 Oct 2013 08:46:54

Southgate sees the bigger picture

Ravel Morrison's man-of-the-match display inspired England Under-21s to victory on Tuesday evening - but manager Gareth Southgate was keen to focus on the team performance against Lithuania.

The West Ham midfielder looked fantastic throughout the European Championship qualifier at Portman Road, opening the scoring inside two minutes before adding an exquisite second in the 71st minute.

Morrison won possession just inside the Lithuania half and continued forward, bursting between two defenders and fooling the goalkeeper with a stepover to slot into the empty net.

The Manchester United academy graduate's rise from bad boy to poster boy shows no signs of slowing up, but Southgate preferred to focus on the team display.

"Yeah, (Morrison was excellent) but I think as a team I was really pleased with what we did," the Young Lions boss said.

"Before the game we spoke about the quality of individuals that we've got, but we can't just rely on individuals to win us matches.

"Similarly, our creative players can't stand up front, wait for the ball and not track back. They did both sides of the game, which was really pleasing. That is what creates the team.

"Within this programme of 21s, there is always a lot of focus on individuals because we are looking at who can progress.

"But the best chance for all of them to progress is to be successful as a team - that is a really strong message for us as a group of staff and players.

"The word talent is banned, it is still potential. There is still a lot to do.

"We were lovely to watch tonight and I am proud to be in charge of a group of players that can perform like that."

Southgate's side went in with a two-goal lead at half-time thanks to Morrison's strike and a James Ward-Prowse free-kick.

Saido Berahino netted either side of Morrison's fine solo goal in the second half, earning Stuart Pearce's successor his biggest win yet.

"I am really pleased," Southgate said. "We have threatened to get a result like that in a couple of our other matches and tonight we were a bit more ruthless in front of goal.

"I was delighted to see how enjoyable it was to watch. We know there is great potential amongst the squad of players.

"What we've got to do is mould them into a team and that is starting to come.

"The players are enjoying playing, playing with freedom, playing with great expression and creativity.

"We will have harder tests than we have had tonight, there is no question about that, and when we go there we will have a very difficult test I am sure.

"But up to now the attitude and response from the players to everything we have tried to do has been first class."

There were not many negatives for Southgate's outfit. A first-half injury to Tom Carroll that saw him leave in a protective boot was one, as was Wilfried Zaha's argument with Morrison late on.

Overall, though, Zaha's performance was positive, especially considering his peripheral role at Manchester United.

"I have been able to use that to our advantage tonight," Southgate said. "He wanted to show what he is capable of.

"It is very difficult when you move to a club the size of Manchester United. The best thing to do is to perform like that and play like that when he is training to try to force his way into the team."


PA

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