England now need Jude Bellingham in central midfield

Date published: Monday 21st June 2021 8:52 - Editor F365

We have more of your England mails, with the double pivot the latest thing to be blamed. Is it time for Jude Bellingham? Send your views to theeditor@football365.com


Rice and Phillips is England’s problem
The double-pivot in midfield is at the heart of England’s current problems – it shuts the door defensively, but one goal and three shots on target in two games against limited opposition speaks for itself.

Individually Rice, Phillips (and Henderson) are very good players however they lack the skills to make Southgate’s double pivot work as an offensive formation.

Rice in particular is a very limited player offensively, with a limited passing range and vision. Phillips can run, and transition. Both can recycle the ball. Neither breaks the line with their passing or creativity.

Henderson won’t change that. Possibly Bellingham would, but I’m not sure we’ve seen enough of him to judge. And alternatives such as Mount, Foden, or Grealish would seem to work better in a more offensive role.

So what to do?

Personally, I would give Bellingham a go (Bundesliga Young Player of the Year must have something about him) given that we don’t necessarily need to win this game and can afford to experiment a bit, but failing that, Rice in as DM with the double pivot further forward in a 4-1-4-1 formation? However, I suspect we will see Rice and Henderson. Hopefully, we won’t stutter too badly.

What do others think?
Matthew (ITFC)


Harry Kane has earned a bad game or two
I’m reading the mails from fellow 365 readers and I totally get that Kane was shocking against Scotland but if anyone deserves being given a pass for a bad game it’s him. England have qualified in two games and if they beat the Czechs it’s been a good group for England then knockout football is knockout football and you roll the dice like every other nation, got to keep the positivity going in the stands.

I believe Kane’s performance was not entirely his own doing. People are calling him out for dropping deep but if he didn’t he literally would of had no touches due to the poor play of the rest of the team. Particularly the centre midfield. Look I’m not having a go at Rice or Phillips, they are both legit holding midfielders and proved that for their clubs so you cannot expect them to turn on the flair when they haven’t been doing that for their clubs ever, I repeat, they’re both fantastic holders.

England are not supplying Kane, Sterling Foden Mount etc with decisive, maybe sometimes risky forward passes because that’s not the two lads game. If you look at the teams that have performed in the tournament so far, they have that balance. Italy are a prime example, Locatelli and Barella. Locatelli very Declan Rice esq, great holder that will pop up in attacking phases and grab himself the occasional goal. But then Barella, tricks for days, quick short passing, driving with the ball, committing defenders etc,. When teams have to commit to Barella it frees one of the front guys, it’s science. At the moment teams just have to stand off England’s midfield two and if there’s not a straight ball forward then they’re going to shovel it on sideways, no intention of taking on the man.

Maybe Southgate is expecting more from Mount but I believe Mason needs more help especially in high intensity games. England are not blessed with massive numbers in CM but I think it’s Rice or Phillips then Henderson/Bellingham. Henderson will get the ball forward faster, maybe it will not be as easy on the eye of a Barella but he gets the job done. Or you can go with the swaz of Jude. His first thought is to go forward. As a life long Liverpool fan he reminds me of when a certain Mr Gerrard stepped on the scene for Liverpool. His ability is there for all to see, he can dribble, he can pass, he can shoot and more importantly for a guy his age is he likes a scrap on the pitch as well, much like Gerrard. Jude doesn’t back down against older more experienced players, you can see he fights for everything.

There’s a lot of shine going to Foden Sancho Mount etc and rightly so but I firmly believe if injury free and stays humble England have a true generational talent on their hands with a Stevie G mentality! Get him on Gareth! So I believe that people need to leave Harry alone and get the players on that can build the play behind him so England can feed the skipper. If England feed Harry four chances inside the box a game I back him to score two at least. But you’ve got to feed him! Let the skipper eat Gareth! Oh and by the way, all you Trent haters out there. You are now seeing what normal right backs that are over hyped inputs to matches are. Trent is a completely different gravy to those fullbacks. In that team Harry has a couple of goals already if he plays. So now English media you’ve got what you wanted predominantly traditional right backs who are adding nothing.


…I don’t get all the Kane hatred and the “I told you so” mails calling him rubbish. Anyone with functioning eyes and two brain cells to rub together knows that Kane is a top level striker. I may not like him (which is my right as an Arsenal fan) but he is a top quality striker who has been overworked and not helped by any of his managers in that respect. He is clearly shattered and it’s down to the manager to see that and deal with it. He should have been rested for at least one of those two starting matches against two at best, average teams. What is the point of bringing DCL along otherwise?

I have written in before about how England have f*cked themselves by sticking with three subs in the Premier League whereas all the other top European leagues had five and this is a perfect example of it. Who do we blame for that awful decision? Chris Wilder, I suppose? Good job Chris, that decision really helped keep Sheffield United up.

However, even without the knackered argument, it’s not like any of the other top strikers in Europe have been performing other than Lukaku. Ronaldo doesn’t count because he is a machine operating on a different level to the rest of humanity, who will be scoring goals at the World Cup when he’s 50. Mbappe, Griezeman and Lewandowski have not been at it either but nobody is writing in saying “I told you Lewandowski is sh*t, did you see that chance he missed?”, because to judge someone’s career on a tournament held at the end of a compressed season where they played practically every minute when fit, would just be stupid.
Adonis (feeling dirty) Stevenson, AFC


Is he injured?
Isn’t it patently obvious that Kane is carrying an injury!

Someone of his ability does not suddenly become a very average Joe without reason.

His injury record speaks for itself. Over the seasons he has consistently been out through injury on and off for some considerable time.

If this is the case, then Gareth and the team owe it to the nation to come clean.

There are options and surely the time has now come to explore them before it’s too late.
Andy Wynn


He scored goals in a terrible Spurs side
As much as Kane had a fantastic season in terms of his goals and assist, as a Spurs fan I don’t really take much pride in that when the team finishes 7th. Mourinho can perhaps be given some credit for creating a system that allowed him to reach those numbers but that very system also created quite possibly the worst Spurs team I’ve seen since Juande Ramos. We were truly awful at times. Kane scoring isn’t new, he’s always done it and the assists he’s added were partly down to Son’s incredible form during the first half of the season where he scored pretty much every chance he was given.

I think Spurs fans have long thought Kane has a tendency to put his personal glory ahead of the team, as seen in the various finals he’s declared himself fit for and then been a detriment to the team. Although you can’t blame him for wanted to play in those finals, he’s deserved to, I guess. He’s a wonderful footballer who will be noted as one of our greatest ever players but he does leave me quite cold as a person. Which maybe doesn’t matter to some people, but it does to me.

In terms of England, it looks like Kane is still in Tottenham mode; dropping deep to start moves and trying too hard to be part of the game narrative. He doesn’t need to be all-action Kane in this England team. He’ll be desperate to score though and perhaps as one of Europe’s best finishers we should try and give him the ball in higher xG areas (apologies xG deniers).

Or perhaps he’s already peaked for this season and just needs a rest.
Spursy Jim


England = Mourinho’s Spurs
The correlation is strong:

Talented individuals but no strong ability to work together as a team to get the best out of them

Great attaching players but more emphasis on defence

Over-dependence on Kane in both cases

1-0 against Andorra, or 1-0 Hartlepool (monkey hangers!) time to shut up shop

Southgate inherited some fine attaching talent, but his focus is always on defence.

He picks the same six up front and rearranges deckchairs at the back because this is the aspect of football he feels he knows best.

The product is dull, sideways football and trying to pump the ball to increasingly tired forwards in the hope they get a goal before returning to base and closing the door.

We won’t win anything unless we rotate at the front to allow new and different talents a chance – not every variation will be a winner but the Kane / Sterling axis is too worn out.
Simon of Whitegate
(Not kidding about Hartlepool, they hung a monkey!)


Well in Wales
I’ll stop framing Wales’ success through the frame of DS’s prediction, but it does just make it that little bit sweeter to see us be given no hope and qualify, albeit it got very nervy towards the end.

Wales’ tournament should probably be judged against expectation. Given they are without their manager they’ve still gone on to escape a tough group (not that tough though DS… Last one, promise).

Italy Wales F365

While the Italians absolutely deserved their win, even with eight changes(!), Wales were incredibly close to snatching a goal back. Page’s limitations as a manager were quite ruthlessly exposed, as his joint 5 at the back and false 9 left the Morrell and Allen chasing shadows against their superior counterparts. I’m not expecting any repeats of Belgium in 2016 should we face superior opposition this time round.

We’ve been dealt a fairly kind fixture next, either Russia or Finland on Saturday, so here’s hoping Wales navigate through an can keep it going for a little bit longer.
The Proud Shepherd of this Herd of Sharks


Will four points be enough?
There is, correctly, a narrative around the Euros that the 3rd place qualification slot reduces the jeopardy of the group stage. As a part of that is the idea that you could lose two games, win your third and still qualify with three points. That was true five years ago, but it might well not be this time. In fact it’s possible that we could have 5 or 6 3rd place teams with 4 points. In that scenario Scotland, or in a less likely scenario England could miss out, despite having 4 points.

Here’s a rundown of the groups and what would produce a 4 point 3rd place:

Group A
Switzerland beat Turkey.
Chances? likely

(very likely; it happened- Ed)

Group B
Finland need at least a point from Belgium AND Russia need something against Denmark.
Chances? Unlikely

Group C
A draw between Austria and Ukraine.
Chances? Likely, considering a draw would suit both very well.

Group D
Either Scotland or Croatia win.
Chances? Likely

Group E
Poland beat Sweden
Chances? Possible

Group F
Portugal get at least a point against France
Chances? Possible

So there you have it. The only group where it’s unlikely is group B. There’s a decent chance of five 3rd place teams finishing on 4 points. It would then come down to goal difference. There may well be not much of a path for someone like Denmark, who might finish on 3 points to sneak through.
Mike, LFC, London


Three of four is daft
Groups of four teams and threeof those teams making it through is so pointless.

Tournament football is supposed to be ruthless, on the edge of your seat enjoyment or heartbreak.

It’s silly now, soon it will be 4th place qualifying for a Euro B league just to earn more money.

Bring back competitive football and stop giving everyone second chances.

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