England better but Harry Kane a ‘maypole’ and Jude Bellingham droppable

Editor F365
Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham
Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham.

There’s some England positivity in the Mailbox after a better second half v Slovenia, but there are questions being asked about Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham.

Send your views to theeditor@football365.com

 

The inconvenient truth
Can only think how good England would be with Kalvin Phillips in the team.
Paul

 

Maybe it wasn’t that bad?
Happy to be told I’m wrong, but my view from inside the ground is much more aligned with Southgate’s comments than what I have read on twitter and from pundits. There were more positives from this game than the other two and we moved the ball much better, particularly at the start of the second half.

Mainoo did well and will probably start the next game, and I also think a change in the front four could be beneficial.

We weren’t great by any means, but we have had three games against teams that didn’t want to play. Pre-tournament I was hopeful that we could win it, less so now but there is still a chance we’ll be heading to Berlin in two and a half weeks.

Quick word as well for Guehi. Been great in all three games and will be playing Champions League football next season.
Andy the hammer (where there’s life there’s hope)

 

…It was, at least better in the second half with a real midfield. Gallagher is the effort award personified but Mainoo gave us control and moved us around the pitch much more effectively. We still seem to be trying to be fluid which is positive, and I do think there was at least an effort for use the last third of the left side.

Trippier delivered a lovely cross off his right, then didn’t do it again. Foden was good but what have we done with Jude? I don’t think he is tired, I think he is being starved of space and seems thoroughly fed up. We should be starting him deeper and giving him space to run with the ball and break the lines. Look at Zidane’s highlights real and a lot of it is from deep. It almost feels like we have two Kanes at the moment.

For all the ‘noise’ I do feel for Southgate a bit. There’s not a great deal he can do about the dearth of left backs. He did try Mitchell a while back and he was no where near good enough so I don’t think we can just stick anyone there. Quite like Wrighty’s Saka solution but it’s a risk Southgate won’t be willing to take. Gomez should have been the go-to option long ago though.

I had my reservations but Palmer was bloody brilliant, and that pass Gordon fizzed in was fun.

This is tournament football and ultimately topping the group is king but you have to feel for the fans making the journey to watch our central defenders knock it around from one side to the other at a snail’s pace. It’s infuriating enough watching it on ITV.

At the end of the day, Serbia wasn’t great but we won. Denmark was awful but that is a tale for the ages of England in second group games. Against Slovenia there were glimpses of the fast-thinking football we can play, we managed to create a couple of chances we should have scored from. That performance with a goal in either half (Kane from Trippier’s cross and Cole at the end) would have looked like a well managed game.
Tom

 

Attempt at England conclusions
Fair play to F365 for getting 16 Conclusions out on most big games, I’m going to have another attempt on England v Slovenia but doubt I’ll manage it.

Gareth Southgate has clearly sold his soul to the devil. Yet another tournament where the draw has opened up with Spain, Portugal, Germany and France on the other side of it. Never has a side done so little to earn to earn such potential route with the three performances so far.

As for Tuesday night, in what world was Foden England’s best player? So much of the ball yet so little concrete achieved with it. As brilliant as he is for City a common theme for his England career. Any run where you are so clearly offside is not the ‘great run’ described in player ratings. So much went down the ineffective left it was almost as if Southgate wanted to prove a point, to the detriment of England’s most dangerous looking player, Saka, not getting nearly enough of the ball.

Despite being a United fan this is not anti-City bias, I’m a big Grealish fan and we have cried out for him this tournament. Even if he passes it square (a common and unfair criticism) his glue foot and ability to retain possession when doubled up on give other players more space and always makes England better and more cohesively going forward. Surely three of Gordon, Eze, Palmer and Bowen – all completely unproven in a competitive game – plus the proven Grealish would better than all four in a squad without him.

On the plus side, another game where few chances were given up. A couple of misplaced passes aside though Guehi was good again. He’s been the major Euro 2024 positive so far. Low bar I know.

What is the point of bringing on a sub in the 89th minute other than to waste time?

Hard to know whether the second-half improvement was a reaction to being so poor in the first half, Mainoo being good, or just no longer playing with 10 men and a headless chicken. Either way surely we have seen the last of Gallagher, Mainoo was composed and comfortable at least. If you don’t want to move Bellingham back to give Foden one last chance as a 10 he’s probably the option.

Kane wasn’t great again – a little better tonight – but when the service is so poor it’s hard to judge. Still concerned he’s not fully fit.

Everyone get your prayer mats out for Luke Shaw’s (physical and then match) fitness. Having no available actual left back in a squad of 26 is utterly, utterly ridiculous. Absolutely no hindsight was required to say this.

Running out of steam now so will wrap it up, again kudos to f365 for always reaching 16. However, have to say your post-Henderson pivot on Southgate is breath-taking. All the legit criticism over the years that you patronised away you’ve now suddenly got on board with because his politics don’t seem to align with yours as much. If this was three years ago you’d be praising him winning the group with only one goal conceded.

Side note, my mate once said he’d read an interview with Gareth Southgate in which he was, slightly bizarrely, asked what his favourite drink was. His reply was water. I have no concrete evidence this is true, but surely if one single comment could ever sum up a manager this was it.
Ronnie Buzzard, Manchester

MORE ON ENGLAND v SLOVENIA FROM F365:
👉 16 Conclusions as England win Group C despite themselves: what does Southgate do now?
👉 Kobbie Mainoo leads the England Clamour rankings; will Gareth Southgate listen?
👉 Harry Kane ‘wandering around like a granny at a car boot’; is Southgate ‘trolling’ us?

 

…Well that worked…but I’m not sure how. No progressive passes; no progressive carries; Bellingham, Foden, and Kane tripping over each other (again); Trippier; Gallagher…where to start?

If Foden won’t play on the left wing but is our best attacker, maybe he should play where he plays for Man City – on the right with Man City teammate Walker overlapping? (progressive passing, cutting in from the right to shoot)

If Trippier is unavoidable, maybe he should have his own club teammate Gordon outside him on the left wing? (progressive carries, actual threat down the left)

Dropping Saka is obviously like shooting Bambi…but he didn’t actually do much, and Palmer looked more dangerous when he came off the bench. It would have been interesting to see Saka and Foden switch wings for a bit…but that would have taken in-game management ™.

The even more heretical argument is to drop Bellingham when England are playing against a packed, bus parking defence and put Foden in at 10, as for all Jude’s strengths, he’s a big unit and creating chances with nifty footwork in super tight areas is not his No.1 strength.

Regardless, we’ve now got a clear’ish run at the Final, which may well be the first time we run into the first decent team we’ll have faced (probably like a pigeon against a window). Although at this point, even the deeply disappointing Dutch and Italians would surely fancy their chances against us.

But at least we’re through and the French are someone else’s problem.
Matthew (ITFC)

 

…Did Satan Skate to work? (He glosses nicely over his comfortable 3 nil prediction)

I feel something massive must have happened in the universe as I think.. I think… that I agreed with EVERYTHING Lee Dixon said last night from about the 3rd minute!

Cleary Tripps is a massive hindrance to any progress and any width at all – Their right back has never had an easier 88 and a half minutes.
He know Tripps was never going outside. Didn’t even bother getting anywhere near him to try and stop him doing it..

We essentially played in 2/3rds of the pitch.

I think playing Gordon on negates the negativity of Trippier somewhat (but I would still play the only right back who has had half a season and looked decent doing it, in Joe Gomez)

Clearly young Kobbie has looked immediately better then Trent (I never got the clamour for Gallagher and thats never going to happen again is it!)

Foden OR Bellers please not both (Jude is obviously knackered.) Foden was as creative as anyone

It doesn’t seem like rocket surgery does it! Even if we ONLY change Mainoo and Gordon that will make a huge difference and it seems EVERYONE can see it apart from Gareth? Seems unlikely…
Al – LFC and England (not a rocket surgeon) still wondering if Hell has frozen over and feeling dizzy about agreeing with Dicko

 

England getting better…barring ‘maypole’ Kane
Accentuating the positives: Foden has now been England’s best player in two games; like the cool kids on the playground, he, Bellingham and Rice are huddling together so let’s encourage that. Yet again Stones and Geuhi were great; genuinely great. Walker is getting faster with age. Rice is imperious. Sake is good, and now we’ve had effective cameos from both Bowen and Palmer as his substitute so the right side is definitely sorted. We know for a fact the Trent experiment has finished. Gallagher’s substitute at least strongly suggests he won’t be started again. Mainoo was fine; didn’t get stage fright. England are slowly resolving the problems Gareth has created for himself.

But I’m starting to feel gaslit by reports only hinting about Harry Kane dropping deep.

His Opta touch maps from the first two games show it’s not here+there. He’s systematically not there. There was against Slovenia yet another example of his aimlessly clearing the ball to the middle of the park, to a position he himself should be occupying, but he’s busying himself as auxiliary full-back when there’s already cover there. The thing that directly led to conceding a goal against Denmark, he literally did again.

Today’s Opta pass maps show heavy traffic between closely-located Foden, Bellingham and Rice (it’s not automatically a problem if they are on each other’s toes; it is exactly the sort of close quartered football Foden thrives on at City) and Saka as the wide option is also helpful. They also show barely any passes to Kane. Now you could argue this is four players all doing the wrong thing. Or could it be our prized striker is either unfindable, completely missing, or not anywhere useful for them?

As Lineker pointed out, where he’s asking for ball to feet he isn’t making the required movement to create that space or enable a turn – all he can do is pass it back to where it came from. He’s not looking to move behind the defensive line. Foden tried a give-and-go with Kane only to find him on his heels and not expecting the return. When England have it wide, he’s running to positions where they can’t find him. There was a pull back to the penalty spot today only to find Kane inexplicably “marking” the Slovenia player at the far post. In three games the only time a wide player has found him in the group stage is via a deflection. England’s best move today, for the Saka goal, was played around Kane who stood at the edge of the box like a maypole for them to dance around.

How many data sources do we need before we pause in stating ‘he’s playing as a forward’. He isn’t. Ronaldo is. Lewandowski is. Kane isn’t. If a midfielder showed this level of tactical ill-discipline they’d be slaughtered. If Conte managed this variant of Kane he’d likely punch him.

This isn’t making him solely culpable for yet another tedious performance; But I would say at this point he is actively making England worse rather than even being a neutral bystander.

Watkins showed more cohesion with this team than Kane has managed in 2.5 games. Start him.

We’re slowly improving 9or at least slowly removing impediments). All that’s left is the white-elephant up front. Though of course that doesn’t preclude said immobile lump claiming all goals scored in the knock out rounds are actually his.
Tom G

 

Play Gordon, man
[choke, choke] Nah, I’m just kidding. I didn’t actually hold my breath for Gareth Southgate to show some dynamism. I don’t claim to know how England supporters should feel, having won your group while again failing to make any real sparks. But I’m certainly an Anglophile, and from that perspective, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I suppose it could be called canny management from Southgate. Certainly, he won’t feel like he has anything to apologize for. But I find I think he does.

Almost the first thing Anthony Gordon did when he came in the by-god 89th minute was create a chance. Southgate must be blind. I want to shake him — in the words of Dr. Byron Orpheus – like a nanny possessed.
Chris C, Toon Army DC

 

Southgate missed/missing the obvious
I’ll be honest, I knocked out around 72 minutes into the game yesterday, so I didn’t get a chance to see how the majority of our subs aside from Mainoo did. But watching us lumber around for a 3rd consecutive game, in a group where we really should have been able to win all three games, made me think about how Southgate really missed the obvious when it came to both squad and team selection.

I started thinking about the ridiculously dominant Spain team of a decade or so ago, and realised how much of the squad came from either Barcelona or Real Madrid, which admittedly was helped from the fact that the best Spanish players wanted to play for those two teams, but surely having players who play week in week out together and therefore intrinsically know each other’s game can only help? And Southgate actually has/had the options to enable this but seems to be more concerned with just putting the best players on the pitch, regardless of their positions.

Especially on the flanks; both Saka and Foden haven’t been anywhere near their club form so far. In Saka’s case, imagine if there was an English right-back that he played with every week and therefore built a fantastic understanding on the wings that could be applied in the England set up. Oh yes – Benny Blanco, who Southgate and his management team have ostracised due to their inability to swallow their pride and simply apologise for the events at the World Cup.

On the left-hand side, if you’re going to play Trippier at left back, why not have a Newcastle team mate whose natural position is on the left wing for the same reason – maybe Gordon?! Even with the squad selection, knowing that both Shaw and Chilwell are injury risks, why wasn’t say, a Tyrick Mitchell brought into the fold as a backup specialist left back, who could be used alongside Eze on the flanks?

It was gobsmacking to see the team selection yesterday; by now it’s obvious that Foden is being wasted on the left, Bellingham has been fairly quiet in his position, and Kane has been wandering around like a drone camera. A manager with a pair of cojones would have made changes, but if Southgate was too scared to try new things against Slovenia considering we had already qualified, I’m unconvinced that he’ll do any different in the next round.
Ronson, AFC

 

Is Southgate actually nailing this?
Is it just me or is anyone starting to think that Gareth Southgate must know what he is doing? Is this the plan?
James, Cambridge THFC

 

MORE ON ENGLAND v SLOVENIA FROM F365:
👉 16 Conclusions as England win Group C despite themselves: what does Southgate do now?
👉 Kobbie Mainoo leads the England Clamour rankings; will Gareth Southgate listen?
👉 Harry Kane ‘wandering around like a granny at a car boot’; is Southgate ‘trolling’ us?

 

24 teams? Just doesn’t work
Allow me, if you will, to write on a topic that isn’t about how mind-numbingly awful the English national team is and to talk about the tournament itself. I’ve watched as much as I can, but with a job that starts at 7am and a child that wakes up at least once a night, the 11pm (local time) kickoffs have been beyond me (Scotland games excepted).

Last night, I was looking forward to sitting down and watching the football from Group D. I started with France v Poland, as that was the chosen game by the BBC and I was interested to see Mbappe play. As the fairly pedestrian game unfolded, updates came through from the Netherlands v Austria game. 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2! Exciting yes? Well, no, not really. I’m sure the game itself was interesting enough, but the problem is that none of it mattered. With Croatia on 2 points and Hungary on 3 points and a -3 goal difference, unless the Netherlands absolutely battered Austria, they were all safely through.

Imagine the scenario if just the top 2 went through. Netherlands at risk of going out. If they and Poland had both scored late, France would have been eliminated. Football is about drama, and this format just sucks that drama out of the group stage. Not to mention it’s unfair, as the teams in Group F know what will take them through in 3rd, while the teams in group A do not. Can’t wait for the World Cup, when we get this format repeated but with double the teams.

It’s pretty unarguable that 16 team Euros was the best format. Even if, as a Scotland fan, I’m grateful for the expansion. But the genie is out of the bottle and we’re never going back to that, so what is the solution? Very simple. Go with the best World Cup format, 32 teams. Now some may cry at the reduction in quality, but I would argue that watching slightly worse teams play with some form of jeopardy is much more interesting than watching good teams play with none.

What would that look like? Based on world rankings, we’d add Sweden, Wales, Norway, Greece, Ireland, Finland, Iceland and North Macedonia. I’ll admit, the quality is mixed. But anyone who has watched football below the Premier League will know that it can be exciting as long as there is drama. And let’s be honest, the big teams aren’t exactly setting the world alight here. France, England, Italy. Dull. Whereas something like Turkey v Georgia was genuinely entertaining.

The key thing also is that the knockout stage would be identical to what we have now. No dip in quality from the bit where it starts to get really interesting. Just a group stage with a bit more excitement. Based purely on world ranking, your average group would be something like Portugal, Austria, Turkey, Finland. I’d watch that.

You’d have to do something about qualifying or that would be a waste of time for many teams, but you could borrow from cricket and rugby and have the last 16 automatically qualify for the next tournament. That would add even more excitement. Or go with the top 16 in the nations league, or something similar.

I can’t see a downside really. More money for Uefa, more fans get to enjoy the tournament, many countries we often don’t get to see play and a group stage that actually matters. 32 teams for Euro 32 sounds good to me (if not sooner).
Mike, LFC, Dubai