AMSTERDAM — There have been far too many World Cup let-downs for any England supporter to get excited by the result of a low-key friendly against one-time Dutch aristocrats fallen on hard times.
Yet the comprehensive nature of England’s 1-0 win over Holland in Amsterdam still felt like an encouraging breakthrough for manager Gareth Southgate on Friday.
Indeed, it almost felt like a role reversal.
In the past, the Dutch pass masters always seemed to set a benchmark for comfort and confidence on the ball that appeared beyond the English game.
Here, though, was something very different.
“I was really pleased with the quality of our football,” Southgate told reporters.
“The tactical awareness the players showed. I was pleased to see the players enjoying having the ball.
“A new generation of players are coming though our academies and they have the ability to play as we did.
“They play in a really composed way. They think about the angles and they’re intelligent footballers.”
Competition for places is hotting up. Jesse Lingard, who scored the winner in the second half, gave the sort of electric display to keep another potential key man, Dele Alli, on his toes.
One area of concern is that for all their superiority they lack the cutting edge of injured star striker Harry Kane.
Nonetheless, Southgate’s enthusiasm was undimmed.
“I should not be inhibiting the way they play. There were a couple of moments when I was thinking, ‘whoah, what are you doing?’ but they have absolute belief in their ability,” he said.
“They will concede possession sometimes, for sure, but I am enjoying watching them.” — Reuters