England need a radical plan: Play Declan Rice in the centre of defence

Editor F365
Declan Rice, Gareth Southgate and John Stones.
Declan Rice, Gareth Southgate and John Stones.

England cannot win Euro 2024 with that defence, so Gareth Southgate might need a radical plan involving Declan Rice.

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That England defence cannot win Euro 2024
Who the f*ck goes on their summer holiday abroad to complain about the content of the mailbox
? Bro, get on a jet ski or go drink your unlimited beers until your patience runs so thin that all your kids’ or Mrs have to do is outrun at least one of the others to avoid the beating I’m sure is only four Stellas into the future.

Football: I see a lot of discussion on the ‘favourites’ for the tournament. England….we’ve been favourites numerous times before, huh? Rice and TAA as the midfield base is not filling me with confidence and that back 4? Sheesh. Less said the better. Then we’ve got Kane with his back injury he’s not fully over, Saka not fit enough for the opening game and Foden + Bellingham not being surrounded by their familiar Man City and Real Madrid team mates.

Being a Spurs fan, I absolutely hate Chelsea but I’m happy with Cole Palmer filling in for Saka. Eze in reserve is also lovely. These 2 are absolute players and it gives you some hope about the general make-up of the front 4. Although, how many times the starters would have played together as a team is what leaves me with the biggest doubts about how prosperous they can be.

Still, is TAA good enough to play this midfield role? Honestly, hands up, I’ve not watched ‘enough’ of him there but what I have seen does not fill me with confidence. I’m sure Pool fans will be here to tell me to pipe down and stop being so silly. Okay okay, so the midfield and attack is okay you tell me? So, where are we now? Oh yeah, the defence….if that defence can win a bona fide international tournament I will gladly come back here to eat my hat as a main course and then, obviously, some humble pie for dessert.

Shiiiit, I’ll even head to Bray and listen to Chris moan about the family he decided to have. Poor sod.
Glen, Stratford Spur

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…Declaration of conflict of interests: I’m an Irish Liverpool fan, so by all accounts I should hate England and want you to lose this Euros in glorious failure like you’ve done before while skulling pints and laughing about football getting lost once more on its walk home.

But you know maybe its two negatives making a positive, maybe I think you’ve suffered enough at the hands of nationalist buffoons and Brexit, maybe its the fact that most English people like my country are sound and probably hate the perfidious albion Tory elites just as much as we do, but, I actually wouldn’t mind seeing you winning this tournament.

But on your current trajectory you’re not going to. I’m sorry but from the outside how a team with Pickford/Ramsdale in goal behind what looks like a Stones/Guehi central defensive pairing wins this tournament is beyond me. You just won’t. The temptation will be to put all your eggs in your wonderful attacking basket and say you will outplay/outscore other teams but the top nations will see you coming a million miles away and pick you off gleefully, counter attacking your soft core after a period of predictable sterile domination.

I think you need to do something quite radical to shore up that defence and for me I would play Declan Rice at right centre back with a double pivot of Wharton and Gallagher at the base of midfield with Bellingham up ahead.

You need a solid foundation and a leader of men at the back to win tournaments and no one else in this England squad fits the bill more than Rice. Add to that excellent ability on the ball and distribution and you have a solid foundation and leadership at the back with a hard working mobile double pivot in front.

From this solid foundation you can take your pick from the wealth of wishes on the wing (for me it would be Saka and Foden right and left) with a serious array of impact subs available.

If this England team are hard to beat, gnarly and mean they can go all the way but as they currently set up predictable glorious failure awaits.

Thankfully you have a radical and daring coach at the helm. Ooops, semi-final failure it is then.
Dave LFC


England players are not the problem
When you look at England’s squad vs the top teams in the PL, it’s suddenly quite clear how good the England squad is, no matter what your grumpy t-shirt seller says. Taking key figures, here’s the comparison.

Rice vs Rodri/Douglas Luiz
Bellingham vs KDB/Szoboszlai/Tielemans
Foden vs Odegaard/Mac Allister/Bruno
Saka vs Silva/Bailey/Salah
Kane vs Haaland/Watkins/Jesus/Nunez
Eze/Palmer vs Doku/Martinelli/Grealish/Diaz

This doesn’t even bother to include the surprising squad depth available now, which surpasses pretty much every league team.

The centre of defence is weaker than City’s (although our main is one of theirs) and probably Arsenal’s, but at least equal to Liverpool (yes, I think Stones is as good as VVD) or Villa’s and the full backs are basically a match for all (hardly surprising since they are theirs or upgraded).

The difference between those teams and England isn’t the quality of the players available, it’s the manager. We all know (I think?) that our best chance of success is if Southgate gets out of the way of those players. When he meddles, it’s usually to make it more defensive (and his in-game management is frankly terrible).

So, when/if Southgate screws it up – or rather, when the players are blamed for not being good enough – when we stumble at the first high hurdle, remember that’s a load of bullshit. The players are good, damn good; in many cases the best in their leagues. We just don’t have a manager to match.
Badwolf (This will be the best squad Southgate ever manages, and I include if he rocks up at United).


Rob, Surrey, Bees (& England!) fan claims England are favourites for the EURO’s. Squad wise sure that’s a pretty solid argument since we are just as good in that area as any other contender. England’s problem is Southgate. He has one plan for each game and if that doesn’t work he has no clue what do. This is the reason we have progressed far in recent championships but have never won. It is painful to watch matches when Gareth runs out of his one idea in a semi or final so the players have zero leadership from the touchline.

This is the reason I laugh when the gossip columns claim X big English club wants to hire him, as what? To work in their DEI department? It certainly can’t be as manager. If you think a perfectly competent manager like Moyes was out of his depth at United I cannot imagine the debacle if they hired Southgate. I doubt he’d survive 10 games before getting the sack.

This current England generation needs a manager who can actually change tactics during a game against quality opposition if they want to win something with this crop of talented players. Gareth’s strength which is claiming to support “the current thing” that has zero to do with football won’t help us win a trophy so he needs the boot ASAP.

Also Barry (Perth) Man City are not Trump FC so take your painfully ill-informed TDS virtue signal somewhere else. Man City are Abu Dhabi FC. It is the dictators of that country who own the club and direct its bad behaviour, nobody else. Grow up!

(Amazed Morris got through this without accusing somebody of being ‘woke’. Maybe he is maturing – Ed)

England far from France
I don’t usually take such a stats-driven American approach to arguments, but Rob, Surrey’s almost offended me. This English squad is nowhere near the French squad.

England total caps: 651
France total caps: 854

If you assume England’s best team to be:
GK: Pickford – 61 caps
LB: Shaw – 31 caps
CB: Guehi – 11 caps
CB: Stones – 72 caps
RB: Walker – 83 caps
CMF: Rice – 51 caps
CMF: Alexander-Arnold – 25 caps
CMF: Bellingham – 29 caps
LW: Foden – 34 caps
CF: Kane – 91 caps
RW: Saka – 33 caps

Right there is a total of 521 caps. It’s a great team, but it means you’re left with 130 caps between the remaining 15 players.

Compare this to France:
GK: Maignan – 16 caps
LB: Hernandez – 27 caps
CB: Upamecano- 20 caps
CB: Saliba – 15 caps
RB: Pavard – 54 caps
CMF: Kante – 55 caps
CMF: Camavinga – 17 caps
CMF: Griezmann- 129 caps
LW: Mbappe – 79 caps
CF: Giroud- 129 caps
RW: Dembele – 44 caps

Total of 589 caps. Left with 265 caps between the remaining 15 players.

So even though your starting 11 might “match” France’s, when it comes to depth and experience, your squad is lacking.

A more accurate summary is to say waistcoast took his previous squad as far as he could, now he is rebuilding again.
Wik, Pretoria (relying on Kobbie, Gallagher and Wharton as backup midfielders is probably why England won’t go too deep), LFC


Lay off Gareth
Chris, Bray (forlornly on a sunbed wishing for mailbox times of yore)

Get off your phone and enjoy your holiday with your children. And cut your wife some slack it sounds like she has three children to look after.

On Southgate and the England manager – it’s easier to hate on the England manager as we have no allegiance to them. We have allegiance to the players as they come from our clubs. The manager can come from anywhere. As a Boro fan I have some affection and support for Southgate however this was 20 years ago.

Enjoy the Euros, your holidays and your summer.
Mannix (Boro fan)


England FC anyone?
Reading the article on Southgate becoming Utd’s next manager and more specifically the issue of international squads having little time together to gel and whatnot, got me thinking and I have an idea. In no way fleshed out or thought through properly:

Treat the England squad like a club squad. At the end of the summer transfer window, the England boss names a 25-man squad (U21s don’t need to be registered) and that squad is what he uses for all friendlies and competitive games. The same 25 players (plus U21s) will train and play together.

When the January transfer window opens, the manager will then be able to change his squad – remove long-term injuries, out-of-form players and swap in fit/in-form players. That squad is then set for the rest of the season.

At the end of the season, if there is a summer tournament, the manager picks his 23-man squad as usual but now he’s picking from a group of players who, for the most part, have been training and playing together for a year.

That’s as far as my thinking goes so far, thoughts?
Clive LFC


Man Utd should stick with what they’ve got
There’s a growing frustration amongst United fans about the delay in making a decision regarding the future of ten Hag, which is understandable. However, whilst it may seem to be dragging on, I can absolutely see why Ineos are taking their time.

Bayern Munich, one of the preeminent forces in European football and a vastly better run club than Manchester United in the last decade, have just appointed Vincent Kompany. Liverpool likewise have rolled the dice on Slot, and Chelsea on Maresca. Given that’s the market, it would seem the sensible thing to have a candidate lined up if you want to make a change, no? Rather than pulling the trigger and scrabbling around for a replacement, better to weigh up the field before sticking or twisting.

That’s why reports of meeting Tuchel make sense. They’ve probably done the same with Poch and/or de Zerbi and Southgate (“f**k no” on the latter two). If none of them feel right, stick with the hand you’ve got. It seems fairly sensible to me.
Lewis, Busby Way


The Mailbox Name-Chain Game
So to give the man who doesn’t get on with his wife a bit of a change up in the ole ‘box, and because there hasn’t been a game in the mailbox for a bit, shall we play my Footballer Name Chain game before the Euros kick off?

The rules are simple. You string together football teammates who share first names as last names. I thought of this in Stoke’s Premier League days when we had Geoff Cameron, Cameron Jerome, Marc Wilson and Wilson Palacios in the same team. So two name chains – Geoff Cameron Jerome and Marc Wilson Palacios.

Go back in time to any squad. Would love to see if there any triplets out there. I’ve had a think about it a few times over the years and couldn’t think of any. A four name haul would be unprecedented (so would three actually, as so far this game has only happened in my head a few times and I never got 3) and five is surely impossible? Small spelling differences are allowed to make it easier as long as the names are pronounced the same way.
Hulmy, Stoke