BBC pundit the ‘perfect man for England’ but then anyone’s better than Southgate

Will Ford
England boss Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate gets lucky with England's next opponent.

A former England international has written into the Mailbox to have his say on Gareth Southgate and England, and claims a BBC pundit would be ‘perfect’ to lead the Three Lions.

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‘The perfect man for England’
As l wrote earlier today in reply to someone calling for the England coach’s head:

He should have went after he himself let Italy off the hook at Wembley with the first piece of silverware since 1966 in touching distance.

I sat with my pal Donald Shanks (QPR, Luton, Fulham and Brighton) in the Grosvenor Casino watching his team get an incredible start inside the first five minutes at Wembley and we agreed right then with the Italians rocking that he should unleash all of his best players sitting next to him on the bench.

Against Denmark with a 1-0 lead l looked at Ivan Toney, Ollie Watkins and Cole Palmer and the same thoughts went through my head, after all we were now through unless going down that same negative Southgate Safety Route.

We watched England before watching the elegance of Spain who attacked a fast improving Italian team since we handed them that trophy which seems an eternity ago.

But time stood still once more as Denmark slowly crept back into the match thanks to the early probing of Christian Erikson who showed England that, “Simplicity is genius!
Yeah, you know him, the wonderful Dane who not only collapsed in such a competition but almost lost his life, yeah that brilliant Dane!

However, we complicate a sport that l grew up loving and playing my best football when keeping it simple for Stoke City under Tony Waddington and against world champions West Germany way back in 1975.

The camera zooming onto Palmer showed a picture which painted a thousand and one words, and the one word was, “Please”.
We are the only nation that have the best players on our bench throughout every tournament under this leadership.

My good friend Frank Lampard was on the panel and it hit me that although he messed up at Chelsea – messing with old team-mates – he would be the perfect man for the England job as he has made it clear at Derby County that he trusts young talent and wouldn’t think twice about going down the route of Spain who have the excellence of a 16-year-old teasing his seniors in Italian shirts.

That was the difference and Southgate who should have gone after the last Euros will take our game back further if he remains…..
It really is that simple and you know what they say about simplicity it’s……
Alan Hudson


Any manager over Southgate
Dave, just for clarity, the last two tournaments were not a semi and a final… They were a relegation from Nations League (3 draws and 3 losses including worst home defeat since 1928 against Hungary) and a WC quarter final.

We are on the downward slope with this terrible manager. Best we can hope is it’s like a ski jump by Eddie the Eagle; he might nail the landing but it’s more likely to end with hospitalisation.

It’s fair for other nations to wonder at our discontent but you are not as blessed with players. And we truly are, which is the frustration. However I’d swap any of your managers for ours in a heartbeat.

Everyone (fans, pundits, rivals) bar our manager, who is too interested in being buddy with the star names, can see what needs to change. They all pretty much agree, bar a degree of preference (Mainoo or Wharton, Eze or Gordon, Saka or Palmer). But absolutely none would have played Trent in midfield. And, to his defenders, I include Klopp in that.

Btw James P, you’re right on the players maybe being dumb. Or rather, I’d say it was that they’re used to be instructed on exactly what to do, so now they can’t function without it.

And clearly, from what’s been said by players, there’s precious little instruction from Gareth.
Badwolf (I honestly don’t care what happens this tournament as long as he’s gone at the end of it)

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Bring back the 90s style
Kane is not a footballer, he’s just lucky to be in the right place, he never tackles and spends lots of the game laying down. Southgate is negative and overall England are boring and too slow. They pass back more than forwards. Bring back the 90s style.
John Adams


What has Southgate been doing since Qatar?
So, we’ve got Rice openly saying “we need to sort out a tactical plan” and Southgate saying “players aren’t fit enough to play a pressing game”
Sounds like the preparation has been abysmal and that is down to 1 man – what has he been doing since the last failure at the World Cup?
Shearer’s comments also amuse me “There’s lots of goals in this England team” NOT if they carry on playing tippy-tappy in their own half there isn’t!!
Chris Wilde


England have always lacked a conductor
A bit harsh from James P saying England players are dumb. Historically true but maybe less so now?

Take Saka…  his biggest attribute is intelligence and decision making. Get him one on one with his fullback and he’ll make something happen almost every time, not through raw speed or a million stepovers but he’s so good at crafting a position to make a final pass/shot.

Foden, Walker and Stones are mainstays for one of the most tactically demanding coaches in the world. Bellingham seems hungry to learn from everyone around him at Real. Declan Rice showed how astute he is in his interview with the Athletic recently (and also plays for a tactically demanding coach).

But England do seem to always be missing a proper conductor, someone who’s constantly manipulating the game state. Like a Xavi, Pirlo, Jorginho, Kroos, Xabi Alonso (who’ve all won international tournaments). Maybe Carrick should have been that guy.

It does seem like a cultural thing. Growing up in the 90s football was always talked about as a game of skillful moments or individual errors in England, rather than a game of tactics.

What’s it like in other countries? Do fans and grassroots players view the game a bit more tactically?


England micromanagement
I can’t remember which poster mentioned it but someone talked about instructions and that if there’s nobody on the post for corners it’s because the manager instructed that.

This is something I realised recently as well while watching Liverpool and seeing szoboslai (who is replicating his Liverpool form for Hungary) continuously sitting in the same space on the right of midfield when he’s much better further forward.

If you see a player do something once in a game or maybe twice that’s the player. If a player continuously does the same thing over and over it’s because the manager is instructing it. If England repeatedly sit deep, that’s because it’s the instructions from manager. If kane keeps dropping into midfield it’s because he’s being told to. If Trent just hovers around the centre circle rarely moving it’s because he’s been told to.

The times when you can blame the player is when he does something which looks out of place that will be the player making that decision.

We honestly don’t see individual brilliance too much anymore because players get micromanaged to the extreme. If you know anything about brasilian football (and I do) one of the biggest issues with the national team is the European based players have been micromanaged so much they don’t know how to play the ‘joga bonito’ style anymore. Everything needs to be drilled.

So the issues with the England team that we have been seeing for 8 years now are a problem of Southgate and his coaching team. Masked because of penalties , easy opponents and scrappy goals. England fans and media have largely overlooked these issues but they are the exact same issues and as a person with no love of international football maybe it’s a bit easier to see because I don’t have a pro England bias (or any national bias really though Spain are quite good to watch).

England have not played flowing connective football at all since Garry’s appointment. They’ve had good results (against weaker opposition) but not good performances really. The only difference is the results aren’t papering over those cracks now, suddenly everyone can see them.

Finally I also agree the poster who said swapping to a different formation gets the best out of everyone. Though I’d go 352 or something like alonsos 343 at Leverkusen would allow Gordon and Trent to play as attacking wing backs without needing to do to much defending because of the three CB and the two sitting midfielders (which Garry loves so much )


Gallagher right midfield
My England team thoughts are as follows.

1. Go back to a simple system that all the boys now how to play (4 4 2).
2. Keep the back five as they are but ask Trippier to get forward more often.
3. Play Bellingham in his best position as a n08. Next to Rice.
4. Play Rice as the holding no6 player which is his normal position for Arsenal. and before with West Ham.
5. Play Saka on the left side of midfield. But remind him whenever his team are defending he also has to get back and do his bit.
6. Play Gallagher on the right side of midfield. But remind him whenever his team are defending he also has to get back and do his bit.
7. Play Foden in his favoured position as a no10.
8. Play Kane as a true no09 and remind him to stay upfront as a target man. And tell him to stop dropping too deep.
9. Use substitutes well. Trent/Mainoo/Palmer/Gordon/Watkins. And bring them on with enough time to make thier mark.
10. Southgate needs to tell the entire squad of players to relax and trust in their own abilities and play with a high sense of confidence.

If Southgate does what I am suggesting the good performances  and results will come!
Lee Alaba (A true England fan!!!!)


Eze’s the answer
Maybe it was stupid to not have a back up left footed full back! This means he continues to go left to right and ignore the wing. This has and would cause the same for any player on the left wing. That’s one of reasons all players have struggled there. Gordon would be the same.

More importantly  they have flair players like Eze who could open up defences. He gets into space and all the players normally ignore him and go right. Rice in particular.. does he not like him! He is also a player that revels in a tight position as he wiggle through.

Drives me mad they keep going left to right across the field. Maybe the obvious  solution is Wharton  as should have been in for the start.. the future! Am not a CP fan either!

You play him with Eze and see the difference. He knows he can confidently play the ball to Eze with defenders around him as he does it at club level.

Eze may not get through everything and may not come off however it may only need to come off on occasions for him or others to potentially score.

All this is far to clever a mood for such a lousy coach.. although he did pick him so that is something.
Stewart Phillips


Southgate overreactions
Every single England game I constantly see overreactions it’s absolutely unreal. Does anyone remember how England did in the last Euros? I think they got to the final. Anyone remember how they started? I think it was a 1-0 win and a 0-0 draw… Sound familiar? Do people think that every other team loves their manager and that it’s all plain sailing? Every single position on the pitch seems to be scrutinized. Seen someone in the mailbox genuinely thinks Mitchell should play ahead of Trippier who isn’t a “natural left back”. What does that even mean? He’s played there his entire England career and has been fine. Mitchell is average at best and if he did get called up I can imagine people looking back in 10 years laughing that it ever even happened. All these fantasy XIs too are mental. You don’t build a team and then just change their entire shape and profile. You need cohesion.

“Play Foden in his actual position” He’s played half his City and England career as a left winger. Imagine playing him in the middle, England would just get ran through. You cant play like club sides at international level. It’s completely different. All this nonsense about Saka too. He’s been England POTY 2 years in a row, their top scorer in the last World Cup and consistently plays well. I feel like people don’t actually watch him. He is one of the few players actually using his brain and playing smartly. I feel like people seem to think England were a top side winning every tournament before Southgate came. They were fucking shite. At least there’s some consistency now. They barely even gave up good chances in those two games. I know they sit deep but it’s essentially knockout football. It’s about getting through. I can’t wait until Southgate decides to leave and there could be the possibility they’ll be shite again and people will bitch and moan for a new manager, basically Man United philosophy.
Dion, Ireland.