C-c-called a u-turn
Oh Neil Ashton. We are very familiar with u-turns made over a period of months and even days, but hours? The Sun’s Chief Football Reporter has truly excelled himself after the high curmudgeon of Wednesday when he bafflingly wrote of England’s youngsters drawing with both Germany and Brazil:
‘It is no use arranging all these prestige games one after the other so Marcus Rashford, Joe Gomez and Harry Maguire can collect England caps.’
Come Thursday there seems to have been a realisation that he may have misjudged the situation and after raving about cap-collector Joe Gomez (who has ‘given Southgate another option’) he writes:
‘He (Southgate) knows that England are well short of Germany or Brazil’s class but he deserves a pat on the back for having the courage to pick so many young players to face them.’
We just pray Ashton did not drive dangerously into oncoming traffic to perform that outrageous u-turn.
Lall or nothing
Elsewhere in Neil Ashton’s ‘honestly this England thing is pretty exciting and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise’ piece, he writes about England’s lack of creativity and the obvious solution:
‘Southgate is also desperate to see more of Lallana, to use his ability with either foot as the creative spark in this England side.
‘They are short of goals, with just two in the last six hours of football under Southgate. England need a supply line.
‘Lallana, who scored in Sam Allardyce’s one and only game in charge of the national side in Slovakia, can provide them.
‘Southgate likes his ability on the ball, one of the few England players equally adept with either foot. It is, sadly, a rare commodity.’
A few inches to the right is Neil Ashton’s preferred England team for the World Cup; unlike all the teams of all his colleagues, it does not contain ‘rare commodity’ Adam Lallana.
(His preferred World Cup squad does include Ross Barkley, a man who has not played for England since May 2016. Because that’s sensible.)
Shock and awe
It’s a Sun back-page ‘exclusive’ and it’s ‘GARETH’S WORLD CUP SHOCK’. This must really be sodding big. What inside information has Chief Sports Writer Dave Kidd exclusively unearthed about Southgate’s plans?
‘GARETH SOUTHGATE is determined to stick with his kids for the World Cup. That means five axed England stars – Chris Smalling, Jack Wilshere, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott – can expect to spend next summer on the beach rather than in Russia.’
So The Sun’s big WORLD CUP SHOCK is that all of the players not currently in Gareth Southgate’s plans will still not be in his plans in June.
A reminder, were it required, that the ‘axed’ England star Wilshere has never actually played for England under Southgate and it has been over a year since Walcott wore an England shirt. The WORLD CUP SHOCK would be if they did go to Russia.
Shock and awe (part the second)
Gareth Southgate’s World Cup blueprint – Dier’s shock role and there’s only one place left in his starting line-up. https://t.co/jDiK0yhWTn
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) November 16, 2017
A ‘shock role’? Is it as the No. 10 behind Harry Kane? In goal? Will he be the physio?
No. It’s at centre-half, where he has played pretty much exactly as many times as defensive midfield throughout his career.
‘Mirror Sport can also reveal Dele Alli will partner Harry Kane as England’s front two.’
Oh for those kind of contacts.
Will dance if they want to dance
Mediawatch is aghast at just how aghast the nation’s hacks seem to be at the idea of Eric Dier playing as a centre-back in a back three. The Daily Mail – who also slap a big REVEALED and a big EXCLUSIVE on their article – describe this as ‘a masterplan for next summer’s World Cup’ and Gareth Southgate’s ‘BLUEPRINT FOR RUSSIA’.
A reminder, were it required, that Eric Dier started 34 Premier League games for Tottenham last season; 23 of those were at centre-half.
If it is indeed a masterplan, it is Mauricio Pochettino’s masterplan.
There was one big question after England’s 0-0 draw with Brazil and it wasn’t ‘how the f*** has Dominic Solanke got an England cap?’…
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) November 15, 2017
Wonderfully, the resounding answer from MailOnline Sport – for this is a sports story – is ‘we don’t know’. There follows the most wonderful collection of ‘maybes’ that Mediawatch has ever read…
‘Stones appeared to have added another tattoo to his collection – and it might be paying tribute to someone he admires.
‘The 23-year-old looked to have had the face of an old man inked onto his left-knee.
‘There are suggestions that the figure on his knee is former Barnsley favourite Norman Rimmington.’
Sh*t suggestions. It looks nothing like him.
Insight with Tim Sherwood
We didn’t think he could ever beat “when you’re hot, you’re hot” but…
— Martin Danks (@MartinDanks) November 15, 2017
Clickbait of the day
— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) November 16, 2017
The ‘terrible Arsenal news’ is the absence through injury of a striker who has started exactly zero Premier League games this season.
They will probably cope.
Recommended reading of the day
Sam Wallace on big bids for managers.
Matt Stanger with David Wheeler.
Jonathan Wilson on Arsenal and Tottenham.