Thunder rumbles and rain are providing the flimsy foundation for office chats across the nation, yet the change in season this time around has nothing on 2018 – that glorious summer in 2018.
Slabhead & Stonesy, that Jordan Pickford penalty save against Columbia, It’s Coming Home transcending sport to become the people’s national anthem, truly a summer to yearn for after it had faded into a bleak autumn haze.
This time around, the arrival of the cold edges away from a summer of Nations League bluster, and closer to the European Championships in 2020.
And oh, how Gareth Southgate must be revelling in the early stages of the 2019/20 campaign.
The waistcoated conductor has led his side to four out of four victories in the qualifying group with 19 goals to show for it.
His lions have found their roar.
However, the greatest source of joy for the England boss will be knowing how much more there is to come.
Tammy Abraham has received his first England call-up following a blistering start to life leading the line for Chelsea.
Eden Hazard’s departure and a transfer embargo have worked together to prove two wrongs can make a right.
They have smashed open the dam at Cobham and released a flood of young talents, all to the national team’s benefit.
Fikayo Tomori is also in the squad, Mason Mount too, and yet one of Southgate’s biggest potential weapons for the Euros may already be staring him in the face.
Callum Wilson, Bournemouth’s main man, has found the net five times in the first seven rounds of Premier League matches – all coming in his last four outings.
His minutes per goal ratio (122 minutes per goal) is greater than Harry Kane (125 mins), Jamie Vardy (126 mins) and Marcus Rashford (199 mins) and of his 11 shots this season, he’s only missed the target once.
The 27-year-old has played a major role in three other Bournemouth goals this season.
- Against Sheffield United, his swivelling effort was parried by Dean Henderson into the path of Chris Mepham who slammed the ball home on the opening day.
- Against Aston Villa, he was felled inside the box and Josh King dispatched the resulting spot-kick.
- Against Manchester City, he was brought down outside the box and Harry Wilson dispatched the resulting free-kick.
On his first of three England caps, Wilson had a strong case for a penalty dismissed after being sent tumbling by the keeper, he bundled through USA defenders in the build-up to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s goal, and beat his man at the near post to flick home a debut strike.
Wilson is a hassling nightmare for defenders, he’s always alert and he’s capable of injecting menace into a pair at the head of a 4-4-2, a traditional system England have struggled to utilise.
Southgate appears to have settled for a 4-3-3 setup but in doing so, he has shown he is willing to reshuffle his pack given his penchant for 3-5-2 throughout the 2018 World Cup.
Bournemouth are blessed with a pair of powerhouse strikers, not too dissimilar from one another, in Wilson and King – yet it works.
For all Wilson’s net-bursting prowess is revered, he’s also impressive in the build-up to goals – he’s as capable of threading balls through to King as he is running onto them.
The nation will look on expectantly as Abraham continues to rake in headlines, but while the Chelsea hot-shot’s start to the campaign is worthy of a place in this England side, Wilson is too good to simply make up the numbers in Southgate’s reckoning.
In terms of dedicated strikers, Wilson has been the brightest English light outside of Kane in 2019, Vardy also in that mix, while Rashford fails to deliver in a central role.
The Manchester United man’s ability to play out wide is surely his saving grace in this instance – he is selected as a left winger, an inside forward.
However, we can only hope Southgate’s verve for versatility is not an insurmountable bar for Wilson to clear.
Vardy retired from international duty in-part due to a lack of game time on the world stage, Southgate can’t allow Wilson to do the same.
Should Wilson be a nailed-on guaranteed starter for England in the Euros? No.
Should Wilson be a key component in an essential Plan B if England are to succeed in the Euros? Absolutely.
Abraham can be a terrific super-sub, but working on a way to deploy Kane alongside the creator-goalscorer hybrid that is Callum Wilson could turn a semi-final into… more.
Get excited about Abraham, absolutely do, but not to the detriment of Wilson who has fully earned his shot on the international stage.