England’s ‘best player’ has been Trent Alexander-Arnold; bring him back

Editor F365
England Southgate Alexander-Arnold
Gareth Southgate embraces Trent Alexander-Arnold.

We knew we would get back here eventually; England need Trent Alexander-Arnold to get Kieran Trippier out of the team.

Send your views to theeditor@football365.com


Nicely done
Incredible the way the Euros draw has opened up. One of: Slovakia, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Netherlands, Romania or Turkey will definitely be in the final. Amazing stuff.
Mike, LFC, Dubai


Are you England in disguise?
I was singing to the TV whilst watching Belgium clustrf*ck their way to a 0-0 draw against the mighty Ukraine.
Andrew, CPFC (this tournament is Austria’s to lose!)


Slovakia, is it?
For anyone looking for omens, Slovakia were Sam Allardyce’s last (and admittedly only) opponents as England manager. Gareth Southgate with pint of wine at the ready.
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames


Sorry but England need Trent
I’m sorry to bring this subject up yet again but can nobody see what I’m seeing?

Trent Alexander-Arnold HAS to start for England & HAS to stay on the pitch. When he is playing, England are so much more likely to create chances. If you look at the stats, he has created vastly more chances in this tournament than any other player & he has advanced with the ball more than anyone else.

I’m not saying he’s been outstanding but, in light of the rest of the squad, he’s been our best player. Take the Serbia game – how many balls did he put through to send Saka away down the wing? He set up the chance that Walker put wide & he won the ball for the goal.

In the Denmark game he sent Saka clear for a one-on-one, only for him to head wide. His passing is probably the best in the squad & he has been highest for assists in the Premier League for years now.

He gets criticised for losing the ball but he is over-scrutinised for that. In the Serbia game, on one occasion he lost the ball but tracked back to regain possession. When Guehi did that he was highly praised! This talk of TAA being poor defensively is unfair & has become a lazy cliche.

Similarly, he CAN play in midfield – he spent most of his youth career in that role. People speak as if he has never played football before! He’s a professional & has played in midfield many times under Klopp!

Even in the Slovenia game, in his 5 minute cameo the team looked livelier, He had one shot & a couple of excellent passes. The whole team perked up when he was on the pitch & you could clearly see his eagerness to get forward.

Drop Trippier, move Walker to LB & START TRENT!
Pete Tomlin

πŸ‘‰ England starting XI v Slovenia ranked on chances of being dropped by Gareth Southgate
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…It’s been pretty clear from the first three games that Trippier is the root of England’s problems. It reminds me of the Simpsons bit where Principal Skinner presents a 3D model of “The Bart Simpson Effect” – the presence of a disruptive individual sucks in all surrounding talent.

The two most naturally gifted players in the team, Foden and Bellingham, both play on the left. That means a lot of our play tends to gravitate to the left side, which gives the left-back licence and incentive to come forward.

Unfortunately, that left-back is Trippier, an utterly one-dimensional footballer who inevitably slows the play down and/or looks to play an unambitious pass to anyone further back who is unmarked (even if doing so breaks the momentum). This causes all sorts of problems.

First, because good players play on instinct, having a sh*t player constantly involved in that area of the pitch disrupts their natural rhythm. Foden now has to think about what he is going to do next, and it’s clear from his face that he’s mainly thinking “oh FFS, not this unrefined journeyman hovering around me again”.

Second, because Trippier can’t actually play competently on the left, Foden has to stay wide, blunting his natural instinct to drift inward. Likewise, Bellingham tends to drift toward him to offer a more competent outlet (again, natural instinct is being dulled by the awareness that a square peg is being forced into the round hole at left-back).

With these three camped on the left, Rice is also pulled out of position, which leaves the right side generally open to a counter. As a result, Walker has to sit and cover, which pretty much makes him redundant. Trent, a superb crosser from deep, would be a far more logical choice at right-back given the distorted shape Trippier’s inclusion introduces. Or perhaps just don’t play f*cking Trippier at left back in the first place.


Wing-backs anyone?
After watching another dire England performance against Slovenia, I can’t help but think England’s four major issues should all be fairly easily solved. The bad news is I doubt Southgate would do it. The main problems in no particular order:

How to get our best players on the pitch in their best positions.
Difficulty playing out from the back and keeping possession.
Unbalanced team without left-footed left-back.
Need more mobility and pressing up front (while keeping Kane).

The solution for the first point addresses the remaining 3 at the same time. So let’s consider a line up and formation that gets our best players on the pitch in their best positions. When in possession England can shape up as follows:

Pickford in goal – no discussion really needed there.

Walker, Stones and Guehi at centre back. Stones steps out into midfield when England have possession. A back 3 or 5 sounds defensive, but it really doesn’t have to be with attacking wing backs and Stones stepping out to help control midfield.

Trent at attacking right wing back. He can switch between drifting centrally to help in midfield like he does for Liverpool, and going high and wide on the right to deliver crosses for Kane who would surely capitalise.

(Hate to p*** on your chips but England tried this a few times and it never worked – Ed)

Shaw at attacking left wing back. Except it’s unclear whether he will be fit enough to play at this tournament. I think Southgate made a major faux pas in not bringing another specialist left back. But here we are and there is a solution. Saka first broke through into the Arsenal team and made his name as an attacking left full back in a back four when there were injuries. He made loads of assists from this position and didn’t make any defensive errors leading to goals that I can remember.

I know I said our best players would be in their best positions, but this wouldn’t be necessary if we had brought another specialist left back. Besides, we have plenty of top options to come in for Saka in the forward right position.

A midfield quad in possession with Rice and Stones at the base (with Trent sometimes tucking in). Stones played this position to great effect for Man City in the 22/23 season, winning the treble. No need to take someone out of the team to accommodate a Wharton (or Gallagher), Stones can solve our problem of playing out from back with the ability to receive the ball under pressure facing his own defence and play out effectively, like he has shown on many occasions including the Champions League final. He bossed the midfield with Rodri, and an England combo of Stones, Rice (and Trent) should be able to control midfield.

The midfield quad is completed with Foden high up on the centre right cutting in onto to his left foot, and Bellingham on the opposite side doing the same. They shouldn’t be stepping on each other toes too much positioned either side like this, especially if Kane doesn’t come deep too often.

Saka (or Palmer if Saka plays left back) on the right wing.

Kane at centre forward.

This formation in possession gets our best players in optimal positions. It solves the problem of playing out from the back with Stones coming into midfield to receive passes and Trent tucking in from time to time. It gives us an attacking outlet wide on the left with a natural left footer, whether that be Shaw or Saka at left wing back.

Foden should be given licence to stay up high out of possession to dovetail with Kane as a pacy and tricky threat on the counter, and also bring energy and pressing to help Kane. So the out-of-possession formation would look like a 5-3-2 or 5-3-1-1 with the back 5, a midfield three of Rice in the centre, Saka/Palmer on the centre right and Bellingham coming deeper to help on the centre left. Kane and Foden both staying high and dropping deep when necessary.

The only issue I see with this system is that Walker needs to play more centrally than usual in possession, effectively making a centre back pairing with Guehi when Stones steps out into midfield. But over the years I’ve always been impressed by Walker’s ability to make a tackle and overall defensive awareness when I’ve seen him play for England. The days of him charging forward as right back and leaving great gaps behind were pretty much over once he joined Man City.

So there we have it. Problems solved right?
Benny M


What about a 4-4-f***ing-2?
As everyone is having a go at England tactical set ups, I’m surprised no one has said the obvious, so in the immortal words of Mike Bassett ‘England will play four four f**king two’. Or at least perhaps they should.

It’s not that crazy when you think about it. Kane and Jude up front, Kane can do his dropping deeper thing while Jude runs on and keeps the centre backs busy. Saka and Gordon on the wings staying wide, making crosses for the big men and allowing overlaps from whatever fullbacks you want because that doesn’t really matter. Rice and Wharton in the middle being combative with enough quality to drive forward in the old one stays one goes type deal. It’s perfect for Southgate. Simple, conservative, and a little bit 90’s.

Speaking of which I’m not sure many calling for Southgate’s head have considered where that may lead. Though I agree it’s probably time for a new England manager I can also foresee the very real possibility that it may be Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard taking over from him. I mourn for my future self.
Dave, Manchester


Can we have glorious failure please?
Saw an excellent piece in the Guardian earlier, talking about what it means to “play like an England team”.

It noted that most other sides have a style. Croatians (and indeed, Serbians and Slovenians) are technical (to a degree that always surprises me), Italians are always built around a good defence and rarely have pace up front, Spanish usually like high possession and passing (now adding exciting wing play), Brazilians have their famed Jogo Bonito… and so on.

I’m not sure that we have one. The one thing that has always seemed quite English was fast wing play, last ditch tackles, attack over defence, unlikely shots and moments of raw excitement like Gazza. Maybe the closest thing is “positive football”.

As the article points out, we know how it ends, we just want to enjoy it before that. We don’t want to sit through dour football, trying to grind out results only to fail anyway.

The game is all about moments. As Arsenal fans were keen to say recently, a season isn’t defined by silverware but the joy on the way.

We may end up winning this thing, when – having ground our way there – the key players collectively take the initiative and just play without Gareth’s shackles. Ignore his screams to defend our lead. Or more likely we’ll lose before we get there.

Only hope is that the next guy can instill a more positive style we can engage with. And then at least our failure can be glorious.

πŸ‘‰ England starting XI v Slovenia ranked on chances of being dropped by Gareth Southgate
πŸ‘‰ The easiest ever routes to a Euros or World Cup final already features one cruise for Southgate and England
πŸ‘‰ England knackered? Top 10 over-used players topped by Arsenal machine


Shall we just blame the flag and dumb luck?
So it’s all the fault of he stupid non St Georges woke flag then.. We are getting what we deserve it seems.

A woke team that doesn’t want to upset or offend anyone by actually winning or really even competing against them..

That’s that most modern thing ever. We should be very proud!

Also.. (2nd half)

Gareth / England are “so lucky” at being in the easy half of the draw…. lucky?

Before the tournament F365 permutations suggested the most likely outcome if the favourites did as we assumed

3rd place team last 16 cudda been anyone from about 10 (now Slovakia, was NL for most of the time..)
Quarters Italy (still Italy or Switz))
Semis (was France but they didnt win their group..) so now NL, Rom, Austria, Turkey
Finals.. (was German) now any one of France Spain Portugal Germany

So the fact that favourites for the whole thing France, didn’t even win their group, Portugal got done by Georgia (Imagine if either of those things had happened to England by the way. The media would have gone even more batshit) and England did in fact win their group with (for sure) minimum effort..

Then that’s not luck is it? That’s just we did our job and others didn’t.. so we are……. errr… better.. surely?

So yet another dull last 16 game that we squeak through – unless Gordon plays obvs (we all know with Phil nipping home, that that’s Gareth’s excuse to play Palmer on the left…. ‘facepalm’).

A revenge win against Italy as a rested Bellers (never happening either) tears them a new one by playing at left back and actually kicking it with his left foot only just to annoy Trippier.. (or a an easy 2 nil against the Swiss coz they scraped past Italy ad cant believe their luck either)

A great fun 4 each against Austria in the semis voted greatest game ever to be played with 2 teams off the leash extra time goes for an hour purely because the ref doesn’t want it to stop for pens!

And then it’s luck / toss of the coin in the finals (I’m not jinxing that with a prediction)
Al – Tongue firmly in cheek 1st half and desperately seeking positives and trying to enjoy this in 2nd half… LFC and England always