Having now slept on it, I think this is my thoughts:
Early goal showing the benefits of playing 3/5 at the back - both trippier and shaw taking very early advantage of Italy taking more than a minute to settle. Good picking for both players and showed some real strength.
There does seem to be a really good team spirit (mostly). I’ve not ever seen that sort of unity within the squad.
There are some fantastic England players and Southgate has to take some credit in that development, particularly given he was u21s manager before. I do think that has helped with the team spirit as set out above.
Once we scored, we failed to build on it and instead we ended up playing deeper and deeper.
Southgate failed to change it up when it was clear we were the 2nd best team on the pitch. It was very clear that the subs made a huge impact for Italy and England were getting very tired. Mount should have come off 20/30 minutes before and Sterling failed to do anything of real note. If he was knackered, why keep paying him?
Stats are not anything but you are not going to win football games with 34% possession, 1 shot on target and your main striker never getting a touch in the penalty box until the penalty shoot out. Yes he did some nice touches as a midfielder, but he is your striker, you need him in the damn box and the whole damn country knows he is one of the most lethal players in the box.
It is sadly very clear that Southgate has his favourites and they play come what may. Pickford/Maguire/Stones/Walker/Rice/Phillips/Mount/Sterling/Kane will always play when fit and to be fair when they are good, they are great players (as all bar Mount have show in this tournament - Pickford did well with the couple of penalty saves along some good saves earlier in the tournament). However, some were woeful at times, Mount did nothing to the extent you forgot he was even playing; I didn’t actually think Stones showed anything more that Mings couldn’t do/could do better. Walker isn’t really a CB; Rice/Phillips don’t both need to play every game, it is good to have them both though just in case.
Why on earth do you pick Saka to take 5th penalty? Such a huge expectation on his shoulders that is so undeserved. I could see the logic of Rashford coming on as he has taken a few for Man Utd IIRC (I know Fernandes is the main penalty taker now) but never known Sancho to take them. If Southgate was so intent and on bringing on Rashford/Sancho, it would have made a lot more sense to take off Walker and Sterling and move Saka to RB for 10/15 minutes.
Sterling has to be one of the most selfish players out there. He will always try and take on 4/5 players instead of passing and inevitably loses the ball. Sometimes it does pay off, but it is infuriating to watch and how many opportunities are missed because he fails to pass? If anything, he should be the impact sub but for him to play 240 minutes+ to not even take a penalty, why?
He doesn’t really trust anyone bar Kane and Sterling to score. With the height of the Italians, why wasn’t Calvert-Lewin playing? Or at the very least getting a striker on the pitch to be in the box would have been damn useful.
His squad choice was poor ultimately. What would England have given to have JWP or Watkins in that team to change it up? These are players that can offer something different. JWP is lethal from a set piece; Watkins is a constant threat/pressure. However given above even if they were in the squad, they would never be on the pitch.
I think for me, Southgate massively showed his inexperience here. He was utterly out thought and out fought by Mancini and he has failed to come up with plan B. As has been pointed out, this just reeks of the Bruce Play-Off Final, we just got lucky with an early goal.
I don’t think Southgate has the ability to do something different, he will stick to his favourites and think he can rely on Sterling/Kane to do something special to win the game. It’s simply not good enough.
Will he lose his job over it? Of course not, the FA love him, he’s “making progress” and inoffensive. He’s a dream employee without being too exciting. The only way he will end up leaving now is either he goes on a terrible run in the qualifiers or someone “big enough” is stupid enough to give him a club job (Arsenal I’m looking at you).
I suspect though he will stay; we will cruise through the World Cup qualifiers and then as soon as we again meet a team that is half decent we will fall again. What’s the money on the World Cup final being England v Argentina and we have to face Messi/Martinez?