Southgate can’t stop himself going full

Highlights: England 1-0 Serbia | Euro 2024 - BBC


England did their usual crap opening game for a tournament as they went all Southgate in beating Serbia with an early goal and then spending the rest of the game hanging on for dear life.

People were asking so many questions after that game. Of course none of them in the media want any of the actual answers.

What to do about Foden? Drop him.

What to do about England’s second half drop offs. Sack Southgate.

That latter one is all Southgate. He’s got them at half-time and they always come out comatosed. He sees that starting XI not working and he sticks with it. It’s all Southgate and his devotion to being a dullard.

And he’s the main problem for England in the way so many previous managers have been. He can’t pick a team. He can pick names. “Star” names that play for “big” clubs but he can’t put a team together. It’s just crowbarring those names into eleven positions.

So we have a right footed left-back, who kills everything down the left. We’ve got a right-back that kills everything down the right as yet again he runs forward with purpose, stops rolls his foot over the ball and passes it backwards. We’ve got a right-back in the central creative role, we’ve got a forward who scores goals for fun all over the world who doesn’t see a pass and we’ve got Foden who just doesn’t fit outside of his cosy confines of City.

If Foden is this great player we’re all told about there wouldn’t be questions about his place or where he should play, I mean he’s played plenty of games on the left for his club, it’s not like it’s something completely alien to him. But Southgate saw him not working and kept him on all game. Well, otherwise he’d have to admit his mistake.

There was talk about Saka’s place, he’s not exactly lit the place up recently. Why? Because he’s been predictable. Cut inside have a shot. All very Andros Townsend. But here he stayed wide, used his pace, beat his man and got to the byline to put crosses in. And for once he was helped by Walker who actually passed the ball forward through the channel, Saka’s cross taking a lucky deflection which bounced it up perfectly for Bellingham to nod in the only goal of the game. Of course Bellingham celebrated like it was all him.

And did we see it again? Well not from Walker, of course not. Why would you repeat something that worked? And while the pundits point out that Trippier barely played a ball forward, as a percentage of his total passes it was 30%, they conveniently overlook the fact that Walker only passed it forward 32% of the time.

It was at this point England decided that they’ll just hang on for a 1-0 victory, after all that’s Southgate’s ultimate goal, he’s said so previously, get through a tournament with one nilers.

Goals. Goals would be nice. Imagine if England had a striker who has 63 international goals. Imagine if England had a striker who has nearly 250 top flight goals. Oh look, there’s Harry Kane not being passed the ball. All the talk of the talent England have up front, why can’t one of them pass the ball to Kane? So Kane stays up front and doesn’t drop deep and is criticised for doing that, when he drops deep of wide he’s criticised for that. Doing the former shows why he does the latter. Because no one passes him that damn ball in and around the box, more interested in passing backwards or being greedy and going for it themselves.

So England get lucky with Serbia being toothless and ride out the second half with Serbia have twice the number of attempts as England sat back and just aimlessly humped the ball away in desperation. Southgate watched this and thought, yes Saka should come off. Now he wasn’t doing what he did in the first half but that was due to the way England were going about it. Instead of seeing Foden not working and brining on the likes of Gordon or Eze to introduce a bit of pace and energy to the left he just let Foden go on being useless.

Bowen, Saka’s replacement, did inject a bit of life as his cross provided Kane with his one chance which was excellently saved. But apart from that with the way England were clinging on he didn’t see much of the ball after that.

If Shaw is fit, he should start as he’s the only actual left-back Southgate took. If not then Gomez. Alexander-Arnold as right back, with Bellingham in the middle, Cole Palmer as the link in the 10 spot and it’s either Gordon or Eze on the left. Nobody being crowbarred in. Players that look forward.

England Euro 2024 starting XI
England Euro 2024 starting XI

The only problem is Southgate. He wouldn’t do this – he won’t drop Foden because it might damage his fragile mind the poor soul – and even if he did he would fill the with such negativity they’d just put in another dullard performance.

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