Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has supported the assertions that the new England manager Gary Southgate is one of the rare managers who the players can relate to. The defender was not part of the squad that participated in the 48-hour boot camp at the Royal Marine’s Commando Training Center as he was given some time off due to his part in the FA Cup final, although he is raring to go on the pitch when the Three Lions file out against Scotland on Sunday
Despite Southgate’s short spell in charge of the Three Lions with just 6 games managed, Cahill feels they have bonded for years. In an interview with Standard Sport, Cahill revealed some of his experiences as a player under Southgate, a manager who he watched play as a defender in his playing days.
Cahill said: “I have had an excellent relationship with all my England managers, but what’s different with Gareth is that he’s been where I am. ”
“He’s played and worn the shirt, he knows what it likes playing for the country and the pressures that come with it. He knows the expectations we are under.”
“He actually played in my exact position too and for sure I listen to what he has to say. He is very approachable and we have had a lot of conversations in and around the camp.”
“He has been to Chelsea’s training ground too and I have talked to him about the different experiences I have had. I ask questions to him. Defensively he has given me a lot of advice and I have taken it on board.”
Cahill has played an integral part in the England squad that has garnered nine clean sheets in their last nine qualifiers, with four in the Euro 2016 qualifiers prior to the tournament, and five games on the road to the Russia 2018 World Cup.
However, some football enthusiasts have written the records off as inconsequential, saying that the defensive solidity didn’t count for much in the Euro 2016 tournament where it was needed most.
Cahill believes that Southgate’s contribution is one of the major reasons why they have achieved such feat in defensive solidity as the manager played as a defender in his playing days.
“Our defensive record can only get better because we are working with a manager that has played in that position.”
“I hope that between now and the tournament next summer, there will be a natural growth of the team.”
“A few years ago, at the last World Cup we were very young. People have come through more now, won more trophies and just naturally you start growing together. There is definitely space to improve.”
“We can obviously learn and keep building. One of the elements we haven’t had since I joined up with England until now is different elements, different formations.”
“But we tried something different in terms of formation against Germany [3-4-3 in March]. We want to add more strings to our bow and that is only going to be a positive thing.”
“It means that when we are in difficult moments, for example in the Iceland game last year, we have alternative formations and different solutions.”
Some school of thought may believe that Scotland shouldn’t be a difficult opponent to dismiss on the pitch at Hampden Park, as England routed them 3:0 at Wembley when the two sides met in November with Cahill contributing one of the goals
Records show that England haven’t suffered any loss north of the border since 1985, and a victory for them on the day would end Scotland’s hope of making it to the Russia 2018 World Cup.
However, Cahill said: “We can’t take a win for granted. I’m sure they will feel a lot more comfortable at home that they were at Wembley.”
“The scoreline flattered us a bit last time. I remember they had two very good chances just after half-time. There will be times where we will have to weather the storm and try to control the game.”
“Obviously we don’t want to be the first England team to lose in Scotland since 1985, but our main motivation is taking a firmer grip of this group.”
Gary Cahill will be eager to put the events of his last stay on the pitch behind him when Chelsea lost 2:1 to rivals Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
“It is a great thing that I have such a big game to play in so soon after the Cup Final”
“I have not had many disappointments over the year, but when you do, you always want to play again so you can’t dwell on what happened.”
“This is not just a friendly, it’s not a pre-season game, this is a high-intensity match, with big pressure. It’s exactly what I want.”
“I want to end the season on a high so that when I go into the short summer break, I have a good feeling.
“I love these games because the atmosphere is something special. Everybody wants to play in that atmosphere. It won’t be a tool for them, it’s just going to motivate us even more.”