Spare a thought for Thomas Tuchel. On a night that could have seen his name thrown around as a candidate for an extremely uncertain England job, the German will be on the backburner, for now at least.
It’s slightly ironic given that while Tuchel was still at Chelsea, Graham Potter was a fan favourite to be the future national team boss. ‘Now he’s gone, may as well have Tuchel’ is how some fans may be reacting. There is credit to the idea but Southgate was always realistically going to lead England to his third major tournament finals.
Southgate was under pressure to get a result, or at least a positive performance against Germany at Wembley, and did just that. The final score of 3-3 was disappointing given the 12-minute comeback by the home side at Wembley, but it won’t change the attitude that England finally showed a lot of what has been missing and maybe some nerves have been settled.
So England and Germany drew but there was a winner on the night. Undoubtedly watching on, whether from his Hove home, the Cobham training ground or even at the stadium, Potter would have been a happy man.
Of the six goals scored in the Nations League encounter, his Chelsea stars got three of them and assisted another. More importantly, it coincided with a return to form for two of his key players. Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring and so far there wasn’t much positivity. England had been okay to a point but Potter wouldn’t have jumped from his seat.
On comes Mason Mount and maybe Potter lifts his head from a crossword to glance over the game a bit more. His attention will have most certainly been turned by Kai Havertz moments later. The forward found space and time on the edge of the box and curled his shot past Nick Pope and into the top corner. It shocked everyone.
Havertz has moments of brilliance, granted, but this is probably his best moment in England yet. The confidence to take the shot on, the skill to execute it and the feeling of fitting in. He had always fallen short of finding a defined position under Tuchel or Frank Lampard.
Potter may well have his own plans for him but seeing the moment of magic will set off hope that Havertz can follow that up when he puts on a blue shirt. If Potter can nature the talent into consistency, then Chelsea have a winner.
The 23-year-old only has one goal this season, albeit in the last league game he played, nearly a month ago. Potter then had some notes to take and the crossword would have been put back on hold. Reece James being brilliant is nothing new, but positive nonetheless. If he can keep up his tremendous form, then everything at Stamford Bridge looks a bit easier at least. Seeing Mount turn the screw would have been the real excitement.
Playing in a more advanced position once more, a return to his Tuchel days despite Potter using him deeper as a more natural No.8 in his only game in charge so far, Mount looked spritely, lively and energetic. He rounded off an impactful cameo with a stunning finish to make the game level at 2-2, his first of the season after an uncharacteristically poor start.
All of a sudden England are lifted. Kane scores to ensure Wembley pandemonium, Havertz equalises to leave most of Wembley slightly deflated. It was a goal to flatten Southgate and England fans despite the positives but Potter will have taken delight in seeing the German attacker on his toes in the box to mop up Nick Pope’s spillage.
As a player that roams around the box, drops deep, picks his space and times his runs, Havertz misses out on a lot of the gritty goodness he needs to elevate his game. Being so sharp at Wembley is just as impressive as curling in a ‘worldie’ given space and time, both will have impressed Potter just as much.
With Potter’s first league game against Crystal Palace fast approaching and all the players on show, plus Ben Chilwell who will need careful management after another spell of being called up by his country but not used in London, there is an immediate boost. Havertz, James and Mount all have a key role to play and seeing them set the stage alive at Wembley is just what Potter needed.