Alexander-Arnold: Another ‘Golden Generation’ mistake

Date published: Wednesday 2nd June 2021 9:43 - Editor F365

Southgate England F365

Keep your mails coming to


Alexander-Arnold and the ‘Golden Generation’
I’m neither English nor a Liverpool fan, so not overly invested, but I was a tad disappointed to see Gareth Southgate miss the chance to do what so few England managers have ever done – put the team first, not the individuals.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is a phenomenal football player, of that there is no doubt. Where there is doubt, however, is how good Trent is in this England team – he has never really excelled, and even back in the qualifiers there was a thought that he might be a ‘system player’ who excels in a very particular set-up at Liverpool, but not so much for England. Whether that is the fault of the player, the manager or both is a debate for another day (after an underwhelming quarter final defeat later in the summer I imagine).

The reality is it all probably boiled down to Trent being a bit crap before March (so he was left out) and pretty unreal since then (so now he’s back in), but it would have been so refreshing to see an England manager pick players not just because they’re a big name, or play for a big club, but because they fit into his system.

I hope it’s not the media backlash that has forced an apparent change of heart from the manager. You can’t argue that Trent isn’t one of the top 26 players in England, but he isn’t that natural a fit in either a wing-back role or right side of a three (Southgate will almost certainly go 3-5-2/3-4-3), so picking people like James & Walker ahead of him did make sense.

The so-called Golden Generation failed for many reasons, but one of the biggest was Sven’s insistence on picking the best eleven players, not the best team (this can be different). Hindsight is always 20-20, but Lampard and Gerrard excelled at their respective clubs because they had partners like Makelele, Essien, Alonso and Mascherano doing the dirty work for them. It was never going to work to ask them to do those hard yards and the Roy of the Rovers stuff as well. What England needed was a manager strong enough to leave one of the two out and play some combination of Scholes, Carrick, Hargreaves behind them to achieve the best team. Imagine having either Lampard or Gerrard coming in for the last 20 minutes, chomping at the bit against tired opposition legs…

But what’s done is done and England’s success or failure this summer will not hinge on who plays right back!

To extend an olive branch to what I imagine will be a HEATED DEBATE of a Mailbox, if any “big player” deserves to be left out it’s probably Rashford. The poor lad looks absolutely knackered over the last few months, and using the ‘eye test’ at least, has been in rotten form (his numbers are still great though, so who knows!)
James, MUFC

READ MORE: 16 Conclusions on England’s Euro 2020 squad

TAA’s possession
I’m sure Dion Byrne, Arsenal must have had his head under a rock at some times this season.

His comment “Trent is more than just a crosser. He’s amazing at keeping possession and finding the right spaces”  doesn’t quite correlate with him losing possession 39 and 38 times against Burnley and Southampton respectively in consecutive games.

Do that at international level and you’ll never see the ball again.
Lee, Hornsey (still very happy)


Selection spam
Step 1 – delete the draft mail penned about Trent’s threatened exclusion from the squad.

Step 2 – replace with some spam about the 26 selected.

Looks to me like England will go for the 3 at the back option at least against the better teams in the tournament.

I can see that Trent will likely find himself in the starting 11 in that scenario with Walker likely being the right sided CB – that should give Trent a little more licence to be progressive which is clearly his strength.

No Ward-Prowse means that a right footed dead-ball specialist is required ( = Trent)

My guess at the 3-4-3 starting line-up (fitness permitting)

GK – Pickford

RCB – Walker

CB – Stones

LCB – Maguire

RWB/Mid – Trent

LWB/Mid – Shaw

CM – Rice

CM – Henderson (Phillips if he is not quite fit)

RW – Foden

CF – Kane

LW – Rashford

A number of good club level connections at the back which should help.

But who the fook knows !?!

Spam over
Sparky, LFC


Who gives a monkeys?
It used to be 23. 2 players for every position, plus a third keeper who doesn’t play a minute.

Assuming Southgate stuck with 4-2-3-1, you would have assumed 8 defenders, 4 def/central mids, 6 Attacking mids, 2 centre forwards.

So he picks 23 in his head. Bases covered. Then he gets the option of 3 more. Brucey bonus. So he chucks in a 17 year old wonder kid to make it 5 central mids, and picks a couple of the more talented utility players. League / cup winners maybe. He isn’t putting any other position on the pitch in any risk of being short, so who gives a monkeys.


Maguire fitness
Listening to Southgate made me realize Maguire’s injury may be worse than anyones letting on. Emphasizing the larger squad size, Maguire’s leadership qualities behind the scene and hoping he plays some part later.

I feel Southgate knows Maguire is out of the group stages atleast and he’s picked a squad to play a back 3. Walker and Shaw may be deployed to the right and left of Stones.

Stones has proven himself to be great this season but he needs a Diaz next to him. He wouldn’t be able to command a defence at the center of it.

Fully expecting England to suffer this tournament if Maguire isn’t fit. Gary was right that Kane is England’s best player but Maguire is the one they’ll miss the most.

…or maybe Southgate can replicate Tuchel’s tactics.
-Sh ehzad Ghias, mufc, Karachi (Should have convinced Vardy to come out of retirement to play the Warner role) 

Solskjaer F365


Euro 2020 bests
I should start by telling you that I am not a European and so I am kind of impartial in this stuff, I am sure the english media would have told you that they have the best squad, that they are favorites, that anything other than reaching the final is failure, well, lets find out..

Best Squad: France
I was seriously about to write England, but just to be sure, I ran through the squads again, you know how England have 47 RB, well, France have 122 world class CB, how do you get that many?!

Best Goalkeepers: Germany
It’s their forte, isn’t it, Ter stegen misses out on the squad yet they still win this section comfortably.

Best Defence: Portugal
France should win this, but Deschamps is not a fan of the most attacking fullbacks, not even looking at one of the most attacking LB in Theo Hernandez ticks me off, England should win this, but their fans are not the greatest at advertising their CBs, their wide reaching media coverage is a double-edged sword, if they like you, praise the lord, if they don’t, beg the earth to swallow you, but from an outsider, I think Maguire is one of the best if not the best CB at bringing the ball out, passing from the back and stuff like that, instead of covering his weakness (and man utd are at fault here) by having a pacy partner and a shielding DM, the first thing you all mention is how he is an oil-tanker, God save you all! Stones has been praised this season and I think he has deserved every bit just as he didn’t deserve the criticism, should be a great partner for Maguire. So instead, Portugal’s world class pairing of Pepe and Dias and the two most creative full backs in the world when you discount crosses, Guerrero and Cancelo do it for me, should they decide to play inverted full backs, everyone else is in trouble.

Best Midfield: Germany
England, Spain, France, Belgium, Portugal, even Italy run them close, Croatia and The Netherlands are not bad either, it appears midfield is a strong forte for European nations so you have to have something truly special to win the midfield battle and that is exactly what Germany have, with the return of midfield king and innovator, the Raumdeter himself, the player with the most assists in Europe’s top 5 leagues for the second season running, Thomas Muller, the superb form of IIkay Gudogan that made him PL top scorers man city’s top scorer, the control and balance the exceptional Kimmich offers, the passing and long passing of pass master and dead ball danger man toni kroos offers, the overall experience, Germany have what it takes to win the midfield battle against any and all opponents no matter the style or compatibility.

Best Attack: France
England could just as easily be the winners, but Mbappe’s pace and effective finishing, Benzema’s team play and creativity, Giroud’s experience and aerial prowess, Griezmann’s creativity, speed and X-factor, Coman’s pace down the wings, many, many other world-class players who just can’t make it not because they are not good enough, makes them the best attack for me, but like I have said, for everything France have, England have something in reply, except for Giroud’s aerial prowess.

Most Overrated: Belgium
I know they have a good system, their squad is surely top 8 in world, they have a not too bad manager but how are they number 1 in the world? I just don’t seem to find them favourites, France, Spain, Italy, England, Portugal, and Germany are all teams I normally expect to beat Belgium, but let’s wait and see.

Most Underrated: Netherlands
Could just as well be Italy, they have the worst manager in PL history if you are going by Mourinho, but they have the clearest style from all the teams, their players fit into their system better than anyone else except France, their players are not too bad, even without Van dijk, de Ligt and de Vrij are not bad replacements, I probably want them to win it, but I am still just a passer-by.

Best Manager: Spain
Didier Deschamps can rightly feel aggrieved, but I am judging this by the nations league and I felt he was the most impressive coach there, he said after the group stages that they felt there wasn’t a game they deserved to lose, Mancini must have felt the same way, but the thrashing of Germany edges Enrique above his rivals.

Predicted Winners: Germany
Very hard this, but Joachim Low will probably get everything out of his players for one last great story. Wish him the best.

Oh, Arsenal
Predicting how Arsenal will make things even worse this summer:

– We will sign Odegaard for lots of money and a big contract and he will turn out to be fairly average. You only need to see his performances this season to know that. He has done a couple of really good things amongst a whole load of mediocrity. When ESR gets the ball, he is always looking to beat a player or for a forward pass. Odegaard is always playing it sideways or doing a Youbube video compilation skill and then playing it backwards.
– We will sell Willock and it will be another Martinez situation. We have a midfielder that is strong, fast, can tackle, can dribble, is excellent in the air and has the knack of scoring goals, but let’s get rid of him to buy some unknown average player on a big contract because some of his stats aren’t up to scratch.
– We will fail to get rid of Willian. Every time I see him on the pitch wearing an Arsenal shirt I am more inclined to give up with football.
– Saliba will go out on loan again. He cost a lot of money and Arteta clearly doesn’t fancy him. I don’t know enough about him to suggest Arteta is wrong, but having such an expensive player constantly on loan is not good for anyone.
– We will fail to sell any of our players who have 1 year left on their contract.
– Saka will get injured in a pointless challenge coming on with 10 minutes to go in England’s final match when they are 2-0 down and heading out of the Tournament.
– We will spend big on someone who ends up being rubbish and Arteta will be out of a job by Xmas after a bad spell of no wins in 6 or 7 games. This means a new manager will come in with new ideas and we will be starting from scratch again.

It’s already shaping up to be a great season!
Adonis Stevenson, AFC


Non-controversial Prem conclusions
I’m bored of hearing about the misadventures of Ole Gunnar so here’s my totally non-controversial conclusions for the season:

1) If Sheffield United had anything resembling a half decent striker they would have finished comfortably mid table. I don’t buy this crap about them being one of the worst teams to get relegated. Far worse teams have stayed up in the past.

2) If Brighton didn’t have Leandro Trossard they would have finished comfortably in the bottom 3. They play nice football but the attack is nothing without this guy.

3) Marcus Rashford is a good winger. However, he will probably never reach the levels of Hazard, Robben etc. United won’t win the league if he’s their best wide player. He’s a great guy but that doesn’t mean we can’t be honest about him on the pitch.

4) Pep didn’t overthink the final, he was just scared. The team was built around keeping the ball because that’s the best way Pep knows how to defend. I think previous encounters with Tuchel had him shook and he well and truly bottled it. If I were Rodri I’d feel like my manager doesn’t trust me anymore.

5) West Ham have been functional in a year that has been really quite dysfunctional. They’ll be midtable again next year.

6) Liverpool have struggled more due to their lack of midfield presence than missing defenders (Van Dijk excluded). Klopp has been tactically static all season and too reliant on Salah to grind out the goals. It’s more important that they replace Wijnaldum, Milner and Keita than finding another CB or LW.

7) Wolves have had a bloody decent season considering they lost both Jota and Jimenez to transfer and injury. If Neves follows Nuno out the door, they’ll end up in a relegation scrap next year without a new quality forward.

8) AWB is actually not that bad going forward, his crossing and dribbling have improved plenty since arriving at United. His defending at the back post is his biggest weakness. It’s why I wouldn’t want him anywhere near RCB in a back 3.

9) There’s only one manager available who can get something out of this Spurs team and that’s Antonio Conte. The man is a legitimate miracle worker and I reckon he would thrive with or without Kane. I bet he’d even get Aurier and Sissoko looking decent. It’s a shame that he’s probably far too good for them right now.

10) Speaking of miracle workers, is there a club outside the big 6 more reliant on their manager than Burnley? So many teams, players and managers have come on gone over the last few years and Dyche has outlasted them all, doing so on a budget of buttons and spare change. I really hope he gets a bit of budget this summer because I’d hate to see him leave the team he’s built.

10) Arsenal will remain an unconvincing mess so long as they remain a financial project rather than a sporting one. They don’t even model themselves as a talent factory like Dortmund, just a hulking, inertial nothing. Sort of like a posh Newcastle.

Come and fight me in the afternoon mailbox please.
Jon, Notts


A short Everton dynasty
Real Madrid: Hi.
Ancelotti: I reluctantly accept this position immediately and for free if necessary.

Everton: … sure ok. Whatever.

Truly the end of a great dynasty.
Alex, LFC, That London


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