DANNY MURPHY: After the bold and brilliant changes England made against the Netherlands, Gareth Southgate has shown he CAN end our long trophy drought

  • England were deadlocked at 1-1 before Southgate swapped in substitute Watkins
  • Three Lions will now prepare to face Spain in their first major final abroad 
  • LISTEN: Join us as we debate the BIGGEST talking points on It’s All Kicking Off! EUROS DAILY. Available wherever you get your podcasts

Fortune favours the brave and after the brilliant changes he made on Wednesday night, Gareth Southgate showed his doubters he can be the manager who ends our long trophy drought.

It was a huge decision to take off captain Harry Kane and Phil Foden, who was outstanding in the first half. But it’s what the match situation required and the right thing to do.

It would have been easy to send on Ivan Toney after his penalty heroics in the last game but Gareth had the clarity of mind to realise we needed to stretch the Dutch defence, and Ollie Watkins was the man to do it. What an unbelievable finish by the Aston Villa striker.

Gareth has been criticised during this tournament because his England have been ponderous and conservative. Not on Wednesday night, even the manager’s decision to introduce Luke Shaw at half-time was positive for team balance.

His willingness to be proactive makes me optimistic we can now take that final step, even against a top Spain team.

Gareth Southgate proved his mettle with a raft of changes which helped England over the line

Ollie Watkins (centre left) came on in the 81st minute and scored the match-winner - with assistance from fellow substitute Cole Palmer (far right)

Ollie Watkins (centre left) came on in the 81st minute and scored the match-winner – with assistance from fellow substitute Cole Palmer (far right)

Harry Kane was a big substitute for Southgate to make but had no qualms about returning to the bench

Harry Kane was a big substitute for Southgate to make but had no qualms about returning to the bench

England were brilliant in the first half against the Dutch, Kobbie Mainoo and Foden played as if they were enjoying themselves.

We lost momentum in the second period and that’s when Gareth had the courage to take off two of our best for Watkins and Cole Palmer.

England have an abundance of good footballers but this squad is also noticeable for its lack of prima-donnas. Nobody behaves badly if they are taken off or don’t get game-time.

We’ll have to choose our moments and be at our best level to beat Spain. But the first half of the semi-final showed we are capable of beating anyone. And the second proved beyond doubt this manager has the bravery to make match-winning decisions.

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk