England legend Shearer hits out at ‘strange’ Southgate decision as he names star who had a ‘bad night’

Joe Williams
Former England striker Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer during his role as a television pundit.

Alan Shearer has criticised England boss Gareth Southgate for telling Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden to “keep swapping” in their draw against Slovenia.

After wrapping up their place in the knockout stages before a ball was kicked in their final group match, Southgate’s side had a chance to lift the gloom surrounding the Three Lions.

A hard-fought 1-0 win over Serbia and a fortunate 1-1 draw against Denmark saw pundits and fans lose faith in the current selection and tactics with Southgate taking a conservative approach to matches.

But the 0-0 stalemate against Slovenia on Tuesday night has done little to appease their critics despite the result seeing England finish top of Group C on five points.

Southgate has come under severe pressure to change his side and Shearer thought the introductions of Kobbie Mainoo, Cole Palmer and Anthony Gordon off the bench were positives.

However, the former England and Newcastle United striker thought the Three Lions boss made his changes too late in the match and got the initial selection of Conor Gallagher wrong.

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Shearer told the Rest Is Football podcast: “By his own admission, you can tell that. He took him [Gallagher] off at half time. That didn’t work, I thought [Kobbie] Mainoo coming on was a positive. He did well. I thought he made his substitutions too late giving Palmer, what, 20 minutes-ish?

“What’s Gordon done against him? Because, giving him two or three minutes?

“I think Gordon did more in two or three minutes on the left-hand side then we’ve shown in two-and-a-half games, I think, with forward passing, with a bit of energy, with a bit of class, bit of knowhow.”

Shearer added: “What he’s tried to do in the first three games hasn’t worked. His starting line-up in three games hasn’t worked, so big changes. For me, he has to play Gordon on the left-hand side.”

Fellow pundit Gary Lineker said: “Tactically, I’m not saying it was very good. I don’t think it was very good at all. But I saw a little bit of a spark in the players and I think if they do get the right set-up and play high, aggressively and brave then I think they can do really well.

“Do I think he’ll play that way? No, I don’t sadly.”

But Shearer thought one of Southgate’s biggest mistakes was instructing Bellingham and Foden to “keep swapping” positions during the match from left wing to number ten and back.

Shearer continued: “I think he’s like spoken to Bellingham and Foden and said, ‘Right, OK, you keep swapping. One goes left and then one goes in the 10’.

“But that’s a strange thing to do, isn’t it, throughout the whole game?

“First half, and even in the second half, I thought sometimes Bellingham’s on the left hand side and Jude, he’s had a bad night. Having had a great opening game, he’s struggled since. I think he chases lost causes a lot.

“Sometimes, you can seem sprinting. I understand why because he’s so determined to help the team but I think sometimes you got to reserve your energy a little bit. But that’s experience. He’s only 20.”