England are out of the World Cup but can hold their heads high after narrowly losing a closely fought quarter-final against the reigning world champions France.
Although a last-eight exit breaks a pattern of steady progression at major tournaments under Gareth Southgate, England are arguably a better side now than at either the 2018 World Cup or last year’s European Championship.
Jude Bellingham emerged as one of the best young players in Qatar and Bukayo Saka put the misery of his penalty shoot-out miss against Italy behind him, coming away as one of England’s stand-out performers.
It was not enough to reach a second successive World Cup semi-final, though, and it remains to be seen whether Southgate will stay on and serve out his contract, which runs until December 2024.
Here, The Independent rates every member of the squad to play significant minutes on how they played, as well as their manager…
Jordan Pickford – 8 out of 10
Arrived in Qatar in form and largely maintained it, particularly with vital saves against Senegal. May be disappointed with not stopping Aurelien Tchouameni’s strike, though remains dependable in an England shirt.
Kyle Walker – 7.5
After groin surgery in October, Walker’s recovery was nothing short of remarkable, bringing him back in just enough time for the greatest battle any right-back could face in world football. Won the battle against Kylian Mbappé, even if England did not win the war.
Luke Shaw – 7
Solid enough defensively throughout, recovering from some hairy moments early on in the quarter-final, and was often the conduit through which England moved the ball up the pitch. Perhaps unlucky to only come away with a single assist.
Harry Maguire – 8
A lack of playing time at Manchester United did not have a detrimental effect on Maguire, who has always been a reliable presence at international level. England cannot afford him to be out of favour at Old Trafford for long.
John Stones – 8.5
Stones has quietly become an outstanding and well-rounded centre-half, integral in build-up play and solid out of it. Excellent until perhaps the critical moment, when losing his bearings somewhat before the cross for Olivier Giroud’s winner.
Kieran Trippier – 6
Stepped in for the opening group games. Reliable against Iran but found wanting at times against the United States and failed to make the most of his set-piece delivery. Walker’s return and Southgate’s faith in a back four effectively froze him out.
Declan Rice – 8.5
Arguably one of the best holding midfielders in Europe now, Rice is improving on the ball and only growing more important to Southgate’s set-up. Excellent against France, becoming a more authoritative presence as the game went on.
Jude Bellingham – 9
England’s best player across all five matches and greatest cause for optimism demonstrated why he is the most coveted young midfielder in Europe. Will still only be 22-years-old by the time the next World Cup rolls around.
Jordan Henderson – 8
Not expected to figure much at the outset but Henderson’s nous and experience proved valuable and helped free up Bellingham. Without a direct replacement, and given he will turn 34 at Euro 2024, succession planning should ideally have started by now.
Mason Mount – 6
Played well against Iran but his lack of a defined role in England’s set-up counts against him. Lost his place to Henderson after a muted display against the States, but it is Bellingham that has effectively taken his role.
Phil Foden – 7.5
Justified the clamour for his selection with his performances against Wales and Senegal. Quiet initially against France but grew into the game. Southgate’s willingness to play him left wing – the position he plays for Manchester City – may see him finally nail down a spot.
Bukayo Saka – 9
Rivals Bellingham for England’s stand-out performer, ending as joint top-scorer and more impressive than Mbappé in the quarter-final. A mature head on young shoulders, Saka appears to have nailed down the right wing slot.
Raheem Sterling – 6
Arguably the second most important player of the Southgate era now has to fight for his place again. Still more than capable of playing an important role but his competition for a regular place is only getting better and harder to ignore.
Marcus Rashford – 8
One start, three goals and a rejuvenated international career, though Southgate’s use of Rashford suggests he still sees him as an option from the bench when the game is stretched, rather than a starter for the biggest occasions.
Jack Grealish – 7
Introduced as a substitute in all five games, with the cameo in the States stalemate arguably his best. A rare goal came against Iran too but not the profile of winger that Southgate wanted starting.
Harry Kane – 7
Two goals, three assists but the England captain’s tournament will be remembered for a missed penalty. Kane is a different profile of player to the one who won the Golden Boot at this tournament four years ago and it is something England are still adapting to.
Gareth Southgate – 8
A familiar story of smart and well drawn out tactical plans to start with, then questions over in-game adjustments. In the round though, Southgate is still by far the best, most-suited candidate to take England forward into Euro 2024 and prolong an impressive six-year stint.
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