Are the England players too ‘dumb’ for success? Forget Klopp, they will hire Neville, Adkins or Bassett

Editor F365
England managers
Are Phil Neville, Nigel Adkins and Dave Bassett more likely to take the England job than Jurgen Klopp?

One Mailboxer has claimed the England players are too ‘dumb’ to ever be successful, while another reckons the Three Lions are the same as post-Ferguson Manchester United. Plus, changes for Slovenia, high expectations and coaching problem in England…

Send your thoughts to


England are the same as Manchester United post-Ferguson
England are the same as Utd post-Fergie. Plenty of quality players but no coherent playing style and on the pitch they look like they just met in the car park.

Ole had a long honeymoon period with Utd, Southgates honeymoon period has been even longer but without silverware. England have just reverted back to the norm.

I think this proves that Southgates previous blueprint for staying loyal with mostly the same core of players was actually the best thing he could do – he should have stuck with it. This tournament we’ve suddenly ended up with half a squad of fringe players who’ve never played a competitive 90 mins in an England shirt. While TAA is better than Phillips or Henderson on paper, England probably would have been better with either of those alternatives last night. And wouldn’t they have also been better off having Sterling, Grealish or even Rashford available from off the bench?

We are better than Denmark on paper. However, Denmarks’ squad contained 22 players who were in the squad in the last Euros and their coherence was quite a contrast to our lack of it.

However, all is not lost. Remember the not too distant days before Southgate where we were always shit at the start of a tournament, we would always look to  ‘grow into the tournament’ and we could beat anyone on our day (and lose to anyone too). We’re just back to that and just need to wait and see what the lottery of knockout football throws us to see who gets to knock us out on penalties. Hell, we might even get a mercurial win against Spain, Germany or France prior to the inevitable knock out. Let’s hope for some of that.

Wind in the expectations, we should never have been talked up as favourites, we are dark horses at best so let’s enjoy the ride while we can.
Jon, Cape Town (come on England, let’s start off by beating SA in the cricket today please)

Gareth Southgate is a poor man’s David Moyes 
In case anyone thought my description of Southgate as a poor man’s Moyes was a joke, I assure you it was not.

– the crowbarring on an extra defender onto the pitch whilst claiming that the side is set up to attack. Tick.
– approach and set up for every game the same, whether it’s Burnley at home or City away. Tick.
– an inability to see beyond having 2 deep lying CMs, irrespective of the opposition. Tick.
– at least one of those CMs regularly dropping between the two CBs to become a confusing flat back 5. Tick.
– the inability to get a tune out of an absolute embarrassment of riches of attacking players. Tick.
– there being miles of space between attacking players in the oppos half meaning that flair players receive the ball with no support and are expected to create something from nothing. Tick.
– Aging center forward who desperate needs replacing, expected to tirelessly run the channels. Tick.
– total confusion on how to press as a team. Tick.
– total confusion around the use of substitutions. How were no changes made at half time yesterday? Tick.
– going one up and then never ever putting the foot down on the neck of other team. Instead drop deeper and deeper ceding all control of the pitch. Tick.

Make no mistake, Denmark are a very average side. Much as with our Euro Title win, the run at the last Euros was made despite of Southgate rather than because of him. We didn’t beat anyone we were not heavy favourites against.

We are wasting a genuinely world class group of players due to a manager who has no idea how to set up the team to play positive football which focuses on our strengths. Don’t forget that his entire managerial career involved getting relegated with Boro and then working with the U21s. That’s it. What did we expect?
Mike, (imagine Moyes or Southgate as manager of your club. Yeah, exactly) WHU


Changes for Slovenia
After last nights match it’s clear changes are needed. Personally, I’d drop Kane, Foden and Trippier (Trippier more for tactics, not being shite). Line up I would go for (in a 5-2-3 formation).
GK: Pickford
RWB: Alexander-Arnold
CB: Walker
CB: Stones
CB: Guehi
LWB: Gordon
CM: Rice
CM: Wharton/Mainoo
Right inside Forward: Bowen
Striker/False 9: Watkins/Palmer
Left inside Forward: Eze

Trent can pick out a pass, have him at wingback but with Walker at RCB  to cover when he’s further forward. Gordon at LWB might mean we’re slightly lobsided defensively but unfortunately Shaw won’t be at 100% for this match. Father time is catching up with Kane, but what an option to have coming off the bench if you’re needing a goal. With 2 other CBs there means Stones can step out the defence as he does at club level. Give Rice the captaincy, not our biggest names starting but looks more of a cohesive unit.
Carl, Barnsley fan


Why these England performances are particularly indefensible…
What makes these England performances particularly indefensible is that England’s under 21s won the Euros last summer playing some of the most slick, proactive football any England has ever seen m. If you haven’t seen the YouTube analysis by some German guy waxing lyrical about them, it’s on there somewhere, alongside this excellently thoughtful breakdown.

Given the clear progress being made by England youth teams in the last 8 years winning multiple World Cups and Euros, the landscape for England’s senior team’s tactical and psychological progression should – and recently has been – be very different now then it was pre-2016.

So the fact England have turned up and played like they’ve been stuck in time capsule since the darkest days of Capello’s 2010 England is absolutely damning. There can be no excuse for it. Forget Stu the Gooner’s tired nonsense about “England players are overrated”: that was the case in 2010. England have since proven they have both players and coaching/tactical systems across all youth levels to compete and succeed internationally against the best nations in the world.

We were clearly seeing that uplift slowly take hold at the senior level. Holding the ball better, being cleverer off the ball, and subsequently making the latter stages of tournaments. To see all that progress totally abandoned in this tournament with the return of archaic, one dimensional football is something Southgate and those within the England set up surely have to answer for. Ideally with their jobs.


About England…
I wrote about about the obvious limitations about Declan Rice as an elite level DM or No 6. He lacks the brains to play there.. I do not know why Southgate or even the English Media cannot see it. I am not even going to duel on that.After Serbia, I wrote in about Jude and Rice not being the brains in the midfield of their respective clubs… Not going to duel on that, instead i will talk about how Trent was the best English midfielder yesterday, but ended up being the one substituted yesterday. Go figure

Against Slovenia I fully expect Mainoo to start for Trent because the media expect him to.

England is not that terrible, it’s just that Southgate listens to the media, and the media expects him to start the best players. As a coach he should learn to start his best team, not his best players. I think Pickford – Walker, Stones, Guehi, Trippier – Wharton, Rice, Palmer – Saka, Kane, Foden/Bellingham will do a better job, with Rice drifting to the left when England has the ball, like Xhaka and Kroos. Foden and Bellingham cannot play together, they are similar. They can’t play central midfield, they need to be close to goal, and both thrive in the space vacated by the striker.

On another note, is there a reason why Ward Prowse a natural midfielder is at home, while a right back with no midfield experience is moon lightening as a midfielder, and why Mitchel is at home while Trippier plays LB
Kufre, Port Harcourt, Nigeria


High expectations
Hi all,

As an Irishman whose main hope with the Irish national team is that they simply show some effort when they step onto the pitch, I’m genuinely puzzled by the reaction to England’s first 2 games and Southgate’s tenure as a whole.

England weren’t great against Serbia but never looked in danger and got the win. Yes, they were poor yesterday but, against a team clearly looking for revenge for 3 years ago, they got a draw without getting out of 2nd gear, remain unbeaten and are top of the table with a handy fixture left to win the group.

Basically, they’re where any team would be happy to be.

Obviously they need better performances as they progress but with the Trent-in-midfield experiment presumably over, better performances will more than likely come.

England were unbeaten in their qualifying group. In the last 2 tournaments they have finished as semi-finalists and runner-up and yet Southgate gets questioned. Now, I’m a Manchester United fan and am happy that he won’t be our manager next year because I don’t think he’s the right fit for them.

However, isn’t he clearly the right fit for the England based on his results?

I’m just not sure what more England fans want. Surely results trump performances in tournament football!?
Dave (An envious Irishman)


English coaching problem…
I may not be paying that much attention, but why isn’t more made of the fact that an English manager has never won the Premier League? England has never really had a problem producing great players – especially over the last quarter century – but coaches? We fail at a tournament and there’s a big inquest into the standard of player development, but why have we not seen the difference with the standard of coaching?

Two of our most talented players in recent memory (Lampard and Gerard) have failed to prove their managerial credentials. Why? Other than general intelligence and tactical nous, it has to be a cultural and sociological thing, right?

England is a small island that thinks the world evolves around it. Something about being the biggest fish in the British pond gives us a sense of superiority. We fear the outsider. We are weighed down by our history and are sceptical of anything new. If you grew up in one of the “smaller” countries in Britain, I’m sure you are instilled with a sense of questioning the mainstream and being outside the generally-considered norm of English thinking. This kind of thinking is desperately needed in coaching. Maybe why Scotland has produced better coaches than England?

My advice to anyone wanting to go into coaching… spend some time outside of England and learn to view the game with fresh eyes. There’s something rotten in the state of the “mainstream norm” of English footballing understanding.

👉 Southgate sack, ‘invisible’ Saka slammed,’obvious’ Bellingham change demanded in angry England Mailbox
👉 16 Conclusions on England drawing with Denmark: Southgate out, awful Alexander-Arnold, rubbish Rice
👉 England player ratings v Denmark: Trent enforces Southgate Out clamour as Kane, Bellingham struggle

Or are England players just ‘dumb’?
English footballers are dumb and lack the ability to think quickly and out of the box (if you’ll pardon the pun)

The type of players that come through our system are not the brightest or the best. The really good footballers that this country could have produced probably chose another route early on in life largely because our society scares people into wanting a mortgage and a secure career.

So what’s left are the idiots who have no other options. England team.

These players are only good when they play for their clubs, a foreign coach and surrounded by quality foreign players.
James P


Southgate needs to stop standing on the neck of the team
Gareth Southgate is the highest paid manager at the Euros, getting paid £4.9m a year. This is 900k more than the next guy, 36 year old Nagelsmann of Germany, a young coach who won a league title with Bayern Munich and also reached the CL semis with RB Leipzig. (The drop off continues after that by another 600k. The Danish manager gets paid less than £1m.)

He has been in the job for 8 years. We are ranked 4th.

In that time we’ve been in a WC semi getting our first WC penalty win, peaked in one Euros final and then down the slope to the worst home defeat since 1928 in the Nations League in 2022 where he managed to draw 3 and lose 3 and get relegated before a WC quarter. That means his record is: par, over achieved, massively underachieved, underachieved.

After this last match, Gareth came out and said that we don’t have a replacement for Phillips in the squad. (If you didn’t hear that before, let it sink in.)

Ignoring who’s fault that would be, we do, however, have midfield players that make such a comment like complaining that you lost £5 while ignoring the £50 note on the floor in front of you.

This is our manager, nicely summed up by his own alarmingly cretinous statement.

Someone made a fair point that maybe he’s protecting Mainoo and Wharton from fan abuse, and I do love a bit of baseless positivity. First off, though, that’s assuming we lose (which tbh is fair, considering). But second, this is a guy who threw Saka, Sancho and Rashford under the bus and then only pulled Saka back out, while also allowing his assistant to verbally attack one of his players to the point he left the squad early and then supported a guy who sold his LGBTQ+ allies for money.

I’ll take Occam’s Razor of ineptitude please.

The worst and most irritating thing is, once he stops standing on the neck of the team, drops Kane and Trent from midfield and restores players to natural positons, things will start looking better again, we’ll win games well and he’ll take all the acclaim. And then he’ll panic in the face of unexpected victory and throw it away. Again.
Badwolf (Expecting Gareth or the FA to change is the new definition of insanity)


​Take care
Everyone suggesting we get rid of Southgate and bring in someone else for the rest of the tournament, you’re forgetting the FA’s rich history of caretaker managers: Howard Wilkinson, Peter Taylor, Stuart Pearce.

We’d end up with a choice of Phil Neville, Nigel Adkins or Dave Bassett. There’s no way we’re getting Klopp.
Matt, AFC (Give it Ben White till end of season)


After much online discussion I’ve had a flash of inspiration.

If I was head of the FA, I’ve identified a solution.

A young coach who is respected by his players for his approachable and understandable approach.

A man who always appears calm and unflappable on and off the pitch. A man who was widely respected as a player, who won everything at club level.

A man who took over as interim coach of a club in a mess and won several games on the bounce.

Time for the FA to get on the phone, get a private jet ready and tell Michael Carrick to name his price for giving up his summer holiday.
Mike C


​Pretty poor Euros
Watching the Euros, reading articles, and listening to podcasts, you hear the usual waxing ecstatically about how good the games are…much like the head of the IOC always proclaiming that the current one is the bestest ever.

These have been low-quality games, with only one or two—Germany vs. Scotland or Turkey vs. Georgia—standing out. When they do get better, it’s usually the last 20 minutes.

Goals have been generally hard to come by. And it’s not because of great defending but awful passing, decision making and positional play.

There have been few goals from set pieces, which are usually a significant source in tournaments.

The passing overall has been woeful – so many balls behind the intended target, easily cut out, going out of play. While positioning has generally been bad – how often have we seen players make a great run only to be ignored as the player in possession looks up, turns and passes it back – several times being intercepted?

These same players play so sweetly at club level yet look like Sunday league at times, which just goes to show how much club-level coaching and playing together play a role today.

With an incredibly unbalanced team, England is suffering all those points right now. To give Southgate some slack – the media were all calling for him to try the things he’s trying. But now, of course, he’s wrong to try it.

The England players look a bit knacked, which is not surprising with the games they play now, but it’s more about being unbalanced and draining their confidence. As some have said on this forum, they also play with better players in their club teams – but more so, they also play to the club system. Having Foden run inside works at City when the other players expect and take advantage of the space created. Still, it doesn’t work when Kane is running back or ‘I’m-so-big-know-I-can-play-casually’ Bellingham wanders in the same space Foden enters. TAA is wasted as there is no one on the left to receive cross-field passes, no one in the box, and no one making forward runs behind the defense. It’s like there is a minefield on the left-hand side – I do not want to go there. It was so easy then for the opposition to squeeze England.

England should either play TAA at left back to take advantage of his passing or play Gordon, who will stick to his touchline and stretch the opposition’s defence. He should stick Wharton beside Rice, who provides a calmness to settle the team and allow Rice to push forward. Then either stick Bellingham or Foden as the number 10. Kane is knacked and slow. Give him a break and let Watkins or Toney push the central defenders back and bring Kane on for the last 30.

Lastly, with the amount of data available to everyone today, why do commentators think they are being so clever at trotting out stats?
Paul McDevitt



Southgate is blessed with a particular gifted set of players and, now that Guehi has shown himself to be pretty good, the only area where we are wanting is left back.  Obviously the position alongside Rice is causing a problem, but that’s a selection issue of Southgate’s making  rather than a lack of decent alternative options as there are good enough players and alternative approaches to this.  So why are we so shit?

The secret footballer (teenagers – ask your dad) said that one of the things that most annoyed current players was when ex player pundits would say stuff like “why oh why is he not doing x etc…”  He gave an example of this when Robbie Savage (it may not have been him but it’s the sort of shite he comes out with) asked why there was no man on the post when defending a corner which had resulted in a goal.  The secret footballer said that the reason there was no man there is because the manager had not designated anybody to be there.

He pointed out that corners were vigorously rehearsed in training with everybody knowing their role and Savage would know that.

Back to the Euros – the reason England retreat after scoring a goal is because that is what Southgate has obviously told them to do when they go a goal up.  He must also have given Kane license to roam.  The pundits know that and if they can’t say it, what actual insight are they bringing.  I know a little bit about football having watched it live and on TV for nearly sixty years, played it until my late thirties and managed a boys team.  I’ve been watching the same game they are talking about and so I know what happened, but what I want to hear stuff that I can’t know, i.e. what happens in the professional game.  I never hear it.


F365 have a look at yourselves 
Argentina played Serbia and Montenegro off the park 6-0 in the group stage in WC 2006, scoring probably the best team goal I’ve ever seen. They then proceeded to struggle past Mexico in extra-time and go out to Germany on penalties in the quarter-finals. But last time round they lost to Saudi Arabia, then went and won the whole thing. Tournament football is random and unpredictable.

In the past 20 years at least 2 Euro winners have played utterly awful football throughout. Precisely zero percent of their fans care about it today.

England are unbeaten in their group. That is literally all that matters after the full-time whistle. As the cliché goes, it’s a results business.

F365 used to be different. I think you guys took great pride in being reasonable, thoughtful, and moderate. You resisted the knee-jerkery and the superiority complex which pervades English football media (supposedly, I don’t follow the English press). But in the relentless criticism of Gareth Southgate, and previously the gleeful weekly tearing-down of Erik ten Hag, you seem to have lost yourselves.
Jayraj, MUFC