England really only have one weakness: Future Man Utd manager Gareth Southgate

Editor F365
Jude Bellingham, Gareth Southgate and Eberechi Eze with the England badge
Jude Bellingham and Eberechi Eze hold the key to Euros glory

Are England really man for man better than France? Some England fans claim that the only real problem is Gareth Southgate.

Send your views on all things England to theeditor@football365.com


Big question
Is Johnny Nic saying that England are worse than Crystal Palace and Newcastle?
G Thomas, Breda


Nonsense, it’s Southgate’s fault
John Nicholson’s realism about the quality of English players seems to ignore the fact that the same thing applies to every other team at the Euros. Rich clubs can pretty much have their pick of the best players from around the world, but when you limit the talent pool to those born in a certain country, of course the quality won’t be as high.

De Bruyne might be good at club level, but he plays with Tielemans for Belgium, a pairing that no elite side would consider. France have one of the few midfield partnerships good enough to be playing for the same top club, but Real Madrid didn’t trust them to start the Champions League final together because they had better options. If France had Valverde, Bellingham and Kroos available, Tchouameni would be getting zero game time in a blue shirt too.

There has long been this weird notion/inferiority complex that English players only look competent because they’re carried by superior foreign teammates. If there’s any truth in that, it applies equally to every other national team.

The ‘magic’ that international tournament winners have is often supplied by a manager who’s able to forge a solid team out of a squad of third and fourth choices – and England don’t have that, hence the blame falling justifiably on Southgate’s narrow shoulders.
Martin, BRFC (I do like the idea that the royal family is to blame for it all)

…I was waiting for the Johny N diatribe on over-rated England players…it must be something to do with being in Scotland.

It’s a strange argument – Jude Bellingham is ripping it up in Spain and in danger of winning that renowned Anglo-centric Ballon D’Or award. Harry Kane won the European Golden Shoe playing for that famed Northern English team, Bayern something or other.

If you put a combined England/France XI together this week…it would feature 6 Englishmen (Stones, Walker, Rice, Bellingham, Foden, Kane without even blinking). That ignores Saka and the on-fire Palmer and suggests that Pickford is not as good as Maigon and Konate is better than the assortment of English second-string centre-backs which may or may not be true.

The truth is that England have an incredibly strong squad, even with a “dodgy defence”, and are man-for-man superior to pretty much every team we will face in the Euros.

There’s only one real area of weakness – in the dugout. When it matters, Southgate will freeze and we will lose against the first decent team we come across. It’s happened in every major tournament since 2018 and it will probably happen against France in the Semis.

Some guys thrive under pressure…some blast the ball over the bar every time…
Matthew (ITFC)

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Gareth Southgate is underrated. But for Man Utd?
It’s looking increasingly likely that Gareth Southgate will be the next Man United manager. Which even as a fan of Southgate is quite the depressing thing to write.

There is still no actual concrete information but the INEOS leaks that are making it to press now look more like delaying tactics than anything else, waiting for a date when they can make an announcement rather than a decision. There are reports from a few sources that Southgate is the man INEOS want and even that the deal was done a while ago.

With Southgate occupied with England and presumably not wanting any announcement influencing the tournament we are seemingly stuck in limbo until England are knocked out or miraculously get to the final.

Like I said, I’m a Southgate fan, he’s been great for England. Though if he does roll up at United I hope to God they give him some clever tacticians and coaches to do most of the work while Gareth plays to his strengths. United could well benefit from his good vibes and team building. He could act as a guiding hand and decision maker and generally leave the clever stuff to others but that goes against the club structure INEOS are putting in place. They’ll have Wilcox and eventually Ashworth for that sort of stuff, what they need is a really good coach and I can’t see that being Southgate.

There’s a small part of me that thinks it could just work. That Southgate is criminally underrated and he’ll turn out to be exactly the right man. There is a bigger part of me however, that hopes this is simply misdirection. A poorly judged and inexplicable game played by INEOS to disguise their real intentions and a new manager nobody has even discussed will simply get announced. For now though all roads look like they lead to the England manager.
Dave, Manchester


Are you a Stan?
This Club 115 thing has revealed something I’ve only noticed in passing before: too many fans have actually turned into Stans. They are SO bought in, they can’t acknowledge when their club (or player, manager, fanbase) has actually become the baddies.

If you, as a City fan, think what has been alleged is ok, you’re a Stan.
If you cannot see that while being a very good and pretty successful manager, Klopp was also a knob, you’re a Stan.
If you cannot see that, while being a powerhouse of a manager, Sir Alex was a horrendous person, you’re a Stan.
If you cannot see that Rashford is a player of incredible ability, but also very lazy off the ball with an attitude problem, you’re a Stan.
If you cannot see that Saka, a player of excellent ability, is also excruciatingly left-footed and only able to cut in, you’re a Stan.

You don’t need to die in a ditch to defend a thing you love or appreciate when you can see there are issues with it. Loving your club/player/manager doesn’t mean you have to defend the indefensible. You can hold both together, and acknowledge both. The good is still the good, the bad still the bad.

FWIW, Southgate is great at building a squad that likes each other, while still being a god-awful football manager.
Badwolf (Shades of grey, baby; shades of grey)


From a distance you can drift away…
I just wanted to add my nod of approval to the letter from Jane (the Arsenal-loving Oiler originally from Alberta). This is pretty much a
spot-on description of how I feel about Mancunians who support Man City and how I feel about myself, a foreign fan who is/was attached to Man Utd, a club from Northern England – I do not live anywhere near Northern England.

I’m not going to spin the kind of lovely yarn Jane did, because my story is much less interesting. But it is similar in that I chose a team in 1996 based on how the clubs were playing and from the moment all the excruciatingly hip friends (The Smiths, the Cure, non-mainstream beers etc) had chosen Liverpool or Arsenal I knew there was no way I could support them, even if it Did Mean More.

Now Man Utd were playing aggressive, in-yer-face football and I must admit that the Guy Ritchie types like Roy Keane and Paul Scholes (the only tackle he knew was a two-legs-in-your-shin tackle) did influence my choice. So that was that.

I stuck through Louis van Gaal and even Rangnick, because I understood what the latter was trying to do. I was hopeful for Ten Hag, but when he sacrificed his style of football to play passes back and forth, I lost interest.

I did not watch the FA Cup Final and I don’t care about the result. I’m still watching football, although I’ve found myself drifting away more and more. Faced with the choice of watching Man Utd or doing chores? I’d do the chores. But the main point and the reason I’m in favor of Jane’s message? People who grow up in the culture don’t really have a choice.

Leave them alone.
Mario Pulver


Red cartel? It’s about protecting the league…
I thought I might weigh in, even though this has probably been covered. There seems to be this whole debate over whether people’s motives are to protect the league or whether it is just mere tribalism and ABC (the new ABU) rhetoric. There clearly is some of that going on but people need to understand what the point of these rules are. There is some BS doing the rounds about protecting the long term future of the clubs, non-playing staff, lower league clubs, grass roots, blah blah blah. But the main reason is to keep the game competitive and that is really the only reason that matters.

People argue that if we removed the regulations then it becomes an open playing field for everyone but how likely is we are going to get 20 state-owned clubs in the Premier League? All that will happen is the state-owned clubs will get further and further ahead at an alarming rate. We always hear the cliché ‘there are no easy games in the premier league’. Which is still true for most games right now but how true would that be if we had 4 Man Citys (and yes it is Citys not Cities), destroying the other 15 (had to check the math on this one) teams every time they played them?

Again, people argue that this already happening with the top clubs moving further further away which is true but it is happening at a much slower pace. Look at what Villa have achieved this season. That is never happening if we had 4 state-owned clubs. I would argue, that with clubs (most clubs) following the FFP guidelines, we are seeing that gap close.

Every team going into matches against Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea believe they can win, home or away. The league is clearly competitive for everyone following the rules. In other sports they recognise the need for competitiveness. We have wage caps in the MLS, the draft system in the NFL, handicapping in horse racing etc. FFP was supposed to be football’s solution to this problem.

It’s never been about protecting individual clubs, the red cartel, the status quo or whatever other conspiracy theories people might have. It’s about protecting the sport as a whole for the next 20 years or so. Because lets face it, AI will have come up with a much more entertaining sport by then and no one will care about football anyway.
Seamus, Sweden
P.S Whoever came up with the idea of playing the youth team against Man City every week is a genius. That would most definitely work.

Rules are rules
Mark, I think it is you who is fundamentally misunderstanding things here

When you sign up to a competition, you agree to the rules.

But you ask, if the rules change then are you beholden to agree with them? No matter what the change is? Rules that were changed in December 2021 and then revised again in 2024? Not the rules that City have signed up for. That’s your argument, that City didn’t didn’t agree with the rule changes.

Well boo-hoo pal, City don’t need to agree to anything. The majority need to agree to the rule changes, and the majority did, twice. That’s called democracy (or “tyranny of the majority” if you are Mark, it seems).
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite