If Gareth Southgate doesn’t buck up his ideas, England could be in real trouble soon enough.
Gareth Southgate’s England were never going to struggle getting out of their group in Euro 2020. They have enough quality in every single position to ensure that they beat the majority of teams in the tournament.
But if he doesn’t change things up, to quote Graeme Souness, football ain’t coming home.
In both Euro 2020 games so far, Southgate has started two defensive midfielders in front of his defenders.
While Kalvin Phillips was seriously impressed in the win against Croatia, Declan Rice has gone hiding in both games. Hiding from the ball. Hiding from responsibility.
When playing against teams that are going to have less quality on the pitch than you, there is absolutely no need to have six defensive-minded players on the pitch. This is especially true when you look at the players that are being left out.
Marcus Rashford hasn’t started a game. Nor has Jack Grealish. Jude Bellingham’s performances this season were far greater than Declan Rice’s. Jadon Sancho hasn’t even come on, and he is one of the most talented young forwards in Europe.
If Gareth Southgate goes through the entire tournament with his fear of losing outweighing his desire to win, he can kiss goodbye to any dreams of lifting a trophy with this golden generation of English talent.
Southgate’s issues could hold England back
Alarm bells should have been ringing when it seemed as though Southgate wasn’t too keen on Trent Alexander-Arnold – one of the most gifted right backs in the world.
His outlook on Jack Grealish has also raised an eyebrow or two in the past. It wouldn’t be too outlandish to question his talent identification.
Gary Neville, among other pundits, have claimed that the loss of Harry Maguire is what is impacting Southgate’s team selection, but if your game plan going into a major tournament relies that heavily on Harry Maguire, you’re probably in trouble to begin with.
It’s clear Southgate is a good manager, especially of an international side, but if two defensive midfielders – who play for West Ham and Leeds United – continue to play over talents like Grealish, Rashford and Sancho, questions will be asked of Southgate if football does not come home.