Gareth Southgate has now been the England manager for four years. Successes at the World Cup in 2018 captured the hearts of nearly every Three Lions fan over that glorious summer, but a stagnation period has started to muddy the waters for the 2019 third-placed Nations League side.
Recent displays have lacked that edge and bite we have seen in previous years, with just three goals scored throughout the Nations League campaign; two from the penalty spot and a solitary deflected effort.
With the current cohort of players possessing talent in abundance, it seems Southgate is often stunted by the plethora of systems and styles at his disposal. Currently, the 3-4-3 formation is the one he prefers, relying heavily on the talent of wide players; both wing-backs and attackers.
Players such as Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling flourish in this system, and Southgate is right to place them at the forefront of his team. As well as this, the depth in wing-backs is almost world-beating, and placing the emphasis on the wider areas frees up room in the middle for the likes of Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The main drawback with this current system, which has been highlighted in recent defeats against Denmark and Belgium, is the centre of midfield; a position the Three Lions have normally excelled in. Nowadays the England manager seems to favour two defensive-minded players in the middle, which is usually a variation between Declan Rice, Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson, all of which rarely threaten in the attacking sense or create for club and country.
Although this provides cover for the defence, where there is already a back-three ready and waiting, making what should be a very attacking formation seem blunted and lack in creativity, forcing such questions on Southgate's ability a coach and his ageing style.
However, the ex-Middlesbrough man isn't exactly spoilt for choice. Whilst Nations League rivals Belgium boast of players like Kevin De Bruyne and Youri Tielemans, England's Rice, Eric Dier and Henderson have fewer goals in their career than De Bruyne has had in the last three seasons.
This isn't to say Southgate is completely starved of creativity, however, as times have progressed since the 2018 World Cup with players like Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young moving on to let stars such as Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Mason Mount come through.
The future is certainly in England fans' minds with these kinds of players, but unless Southgate finds a way to make defensive brilliance work alongside their incredible creative talent, the country could enter Euro 2020 stale and unprepared across the midfield.