Everybody wants to talk about Gareth Southgate’s balls

Date published: Saturday 19th June 2021 12:28 - Editor F365

Gareth Southgate Harry Kane England F365

Nobody was impressed with England but particularly Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane. Send your mails to theeditor@football365.com


Here we go on Southgate the coward
Let’s start from the top. Southgate is a terrible, defensive, dull and unadventurous manager. Grinding out 1-0 wins against average sides isn’t the mark of greatness.

Sterling. What?! Why? What does he actually do? Pass back to his defence, run away from the danger area? Switched to the right wing but no one told him so he just carried on standing around in the centre instead of attacking the full back.

Kane? Looked so much better but what the hell is he doing coming back into midfield? He needs to be at the sharp end if he’s the sole striker.

Foden was brilliant. So of course he was substituted for the other decent creative player.

Grealish looked excellent, tricky and attacked. Just so late to come on.

Mount looked tidy but with nowhere to go.

James? Good in defence, offered next to no attacking option. Just turned back to his own goal nearly every time.

Rashford? Didn’t stand a chance against three centre-backs but still did more than Kane in his 20 or so minutes.

Stones looked one of our most creative players which is utterly damning. He is excellent but had no one to pass too.

And again Southgate, the game was crying out for two strikers or someone to take on the full backs. Terrible tactics, no bottle, just a weak tepid performance that he did very little to change.

Yes the Scots fought well and were always going to, but if we have any intent to win this thing, we have to actually try to win games by something other than a bloody penalty.
BadWolf (angry but completely unsurprised)


…Er so playing six defensive players at home against the third worst ranking team in the Euros is part of the England DNA? I guess so if your only managerial experience of note is taking Middlesbrough down. Why lack the balls? Why not go attacking from the start? What are England managers’ fear of players like Hoddle, Le Tissier or Grealish? Those that don’t always play within a binary framework? Only Sir Bobby and Tezza V showed trust in true ballers like Gazza, probably because they spent time abroad. Give Southgate a brolly and he’s not much more than Schteev.


…Told you.

England are cowardly.

England play to hide our weaknesses not emphasise our strengths.

Playing Rice means we have no impetus.

The substitutions were.. odd. It isn’t Kane’s fault he isn’t getting any possession.

Foden was far more likely to change the game than Sterling.

Rashford is absolutely not a center forward.

Where was Sancho?

Why the hell was Rice on the pitch after halftime (at all)

Phillips as the midfield enforcer, Bellingham to actually pass the ball forward and Sancho or Grealish for Sterling.

But Southgate won’t.

Because he’s cowardly.
Tim Sutton


…Terrible game. Terrible tactics. Terrible team selection.

However the cheering and applause which drowned out the racists (sorry anti BLM Marxists) at the start was great. I think we’ve found a new solution. Keep the kneeling and everyone who isn’t racist claps and cheers to make sure nobody even knows the racists (sorry…anti blmers) are booing.

I did say England were overrated and that England fans shouldnt expect much. I actually had a bet on a nil nil draw for this game because luckily I have zero attachment to England so I can comfortably make non biased bets on their games. I never bet on Liverpool precisely because my judgment is clouded there.

I’ll give critics this one Southgate got the team selection wrong…or did he. Did he realise that England actually aren’t that great and are really about Scotland’s level which is why he played it safe and picked zero adventurous players?


…Zero fluidity. No gameplan. No system. In England, you take the players the media and fans believe are good and then force them to play. Basically take square pegs and force them into round holes!

Mount and Foden winning titles doesn’t mean they have to play. Get a system first and incorporate them! Without a system, you waste such talents.

Rice and Philips together is too defensive. When trying to open teams up, play one and add an attacking midfielder. Kane relies on service to be a top striker. You have to play a system that suits him. Not play him and hope you win a penalty for him to score🤣.

This is the same England that benched Scholes or played him wings to accommodate Lampard and Gerrard together 😅. Same England that never had a slot for Carrick, arguably England’s best deep lying playmaker recently! And one that couldn’t have a slot for Ward Prowse in this Squad.

Won’t go past the group stage. The Czechs shall thump them! Useless team. Average manager.
Baros, Kenya


Some things I learned watching England
1) Harry Kane is not match fit. Not sure if it’s physical or his mind is fixated on his impending, and in all likelihood fruitless, transfer saga. He can not start against the Czech Republic. Calvert-Lewin has to play central, and that’s because…

2) Foden and Sterling are both undoubtedly talented players and each had… moments? Brief flashes where they threaten to do… something? But more often than not they flatter to deceive. We need to try something different. Rashford and Sancho deserve a start in the wide positions next time out.

3) The importance of a quality set piece taker cannot be underestimated. Mount failing to beat the first man from every. single. corner. is disappointing, especially when our best chance of the game came from a John Stones header. Trippier needs to be on the pitch for corners alone. Left-back, right-back, I don’t really mind, but Shaw played well tonight and probably deserves to keep his place, certainly more than Walker or James on the other flank.

4) Jack Grealish is not our silver bullet. Can we just stop it now? It’s getting embarrassing. His cameo this evening was summed up in one moment for me. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box, he stepped forward, because that’s what he does, right? Drives us forward? Makes thing happen? Then he just stopped, and waited. Nothing happened. The Scottish defence, clearly wise to his game, just stood back and left him to it. Confused by the lack of movement, he froze. Poor Jackie looked lost. Bereft. Where were the flailing legs that normally greet him whenever he drives us forward? What exactly was he supposed to fall over now? His renown for winning free-kicks isn’t the asset some think it is.

5) The Yorkshire Pirlo came up with a moment of brilliance against Croatia, but he was back to his usual non-descript nothingness this evening. Did we really need him and Rice in the middle? Rice holding alone would have been enough, Mount and maybe Foden in a slightly deeper role could give us more going forward without compromising the defensive stability we’ve shown so far, too much at least.
Dan (I delayed my holiday to watch this dross), Coventry


England 0-0 Scotland: Rating the players


Player and manager review
Well that was oddly familiar. Underwhelming effort? Check. Championship level striker made to look decent? Check. Iffy management and tactics? Check x100

Here’s where it went wrong:

Pickford – made a good save in the second half, generally safe. Still feel this is the tournament where he makes a massive cockup. Hope not.

James – fine but did he offer enough going forward? Got to think that Trippier would’ve been better and if you’re a right back not offering anything going forward then Wan Bissaka will rightly be sat at home fuming. Missed opportunity.

Stones – should’ve scored but didn’t stand out other than that. Probably could’ve been more proactive bringing the ball out but presumably that’s what the two midfielders sat in front of him are for?

Mings – iffy. Made a couple of mistakes which turned out not to be too important but will definitely f*** up at some point. Not good enough on the ball for this level. Pulled out of position too often by Championship defender Dykes (who will end up at Burnley no doubt). Not a fan. True, we’re a clean sheet machine at the moment but England will benefit going forwards when Maguire returns as he’s far superior at bringing the ball out.

Shaw – solid but would Chilwell provide more going forwards? He certainly would’ve improved on Shaw’s cross shot (or successful attempt not to shoot or pass to Harry Kane, as his supporters might tell you. As with James, defending solidly against Scotland and offering little going forwards is probably sub par in the modern game. Trippier and Chilwell at right and left back respectively next week please.

Rice – ah midfield, what was that? So much distance between the defensive and offensive halves of England and absolutely nothing to tie them together. How we would’ve loved one of Gerrard, Lampard or Scholes tonight to knit the play together. Rice was never going to be that man. Was he superfluous in this game? Did nothing in this game to say he’s any better than Fred who’s started two games in a similar position for Brazil, games which they have won 3-0 and 4-0. I am not saying Fred is better than Rice. I am saying England drew nil nil with Scotland and basically played two defensive midfielders.

Phillips – meh. Much as Rice but out of the two you expect more going forward from the Leeds man. I didn’t see Scotland actively stop Phillips doing this so what happened? Did Gareth stop him bringing the ball out? Was he bypassed? Did he just have a poor night? If it’s the last one then don’t do that again.

Foden – quality. England’s best player, inexplicably subbed by Gareth. Naughty Gareth. Offered more than all the other players combined. He’s basically the new Goldenballs.

Mount – stinky. Very stinky. He must thank my deteriorating relationship with football that I don’t watch as much of it because almost very time I see him play he’s not great. Would rather see Foden in the middle, he’s far superior in every way.

Sterling – I usually stick up for Sterling but unfortunately for him he was utterly rubbish tonight. Offered very little and tried to dive for a pen in the age of VAR. I’d probably drop him for the next game.

Kane – got no service whatsoever (see Mount and Sterling) but that is absolutely where the mitigating factors stop. There can only be three explanations for Kane being so bad 1) he doesn’t fit in this England team as it is currently set up, 2) he’s not quite match fit, either physically or mentally or 3) David Roberts got into his head. There is always the possibility that he’s actually shit but I don’t buy that. Calvert-Lewin must be desperate for his chance to lead the line in the case of 2) or 3), but if 1) is right then are there any forwards that fit in the side? Problems for Southgate here.

Grealish – won free kicks as per, mostly in his own half though. Didn’t justify Foden going off, would’ve been a better replacement for any other forward. Probably needs to start the next game and has to take that chance to prove he’s an improvement on the others. England noticeably worse with him on the pitch but probably more to do with lack of Foden than abundance of Grealish and his calves.

Rashford – didn’t do anything, would Calvert-Lewin have been a better choice? As a United fan would rather Rashford had had his surgery and rested up ready for next season rather than labour with England. Especially if they’ll play like this.

Southgate – hugely disappointing effort. Team set up wrong, seemed to be a lack of urgency and cohesion. Very un-Gareth like. Was massively outthought by Clarke while the players were outfought on the pitch. The players actually seemed shocked by Scotland’s start, yet they need only have watched Tuesdays game to prepare for that. Two defensive midfielders against a team that will counter attack and has minimal threat centrally. Took off arguably our best player and moved arguable out worst player into the same position. Didn’t change the shape with any of the subs. Only made two subs out of five. Has got a big problem I. The middle of the park if he doesn’t let or actively encourage Phillips to drive the ball forward as he does for Leeds. Has to have an alternative to Mount (it’s Foden). Get the clamour for Grealish but a player with better stats sat on the bench whilst Sterling stayed on for the whole game.

All this must be hugely caveated by the fact that this was a game against our oldest rivals. Making conclusions from derbies is always stupid (though that’s how F365 makes its money). Also, such a young team that has probably now qualified for the next stage after the second game. I can’t remember the last England manager that managed that?

XI for next game needs to be:

Trippier Stones Maguire (injury pending) Chilwell
Sancho Foden Grealish

Push Phillips in front of Rice and encourage the centre backs to bring it out. Push the full backs up and let Sancho and Grealish wreak havoc with their dribbling. Could play Calvert-Lewin over Rashford, I’m not fussed but I think that maybe Rashford is more likely to pull some magic out of the bag.

Or a draw to get a (probably) favourable tie in the next round, maybe play the same team and bore everyone to death again?
Ash (Exile Beyond The Wall) Metcalfe


Spanner in the clamour works for Grealish
God I loved that. A game with a crowd that felt like it was 90,000 strong when officially it wasn’t even 25,000. I could feel it shrieking through the TV at me. That was the atmosphere this Euros needed. Maybe I’m biased because I had a vested interest in this game, but the intensity at which this game was played was as sobering as a post night out nipple twist. We needed this. The tournament needed this. I thought it was a cracking game.

A word about Grealish though. The clamour has defeated me. Will we ever learn from our past mistakes? Yes, he’s a wonderfully talented footballer. I loved seeing him shinpadlessly stride onto the pitch tonight and I truly believed that he could make the difference.


But please can we stop pinning our hopes on one player. It’s not just about Grealish. It never will be about just one player. We need the team to collectively play to their full potential and capitalise on the obvious and raw young attacking talent we have. “The clamour” has always harmed our chances, see Beckham, see Rooney, because one player does a team not make (or something like that. Sorry to Yoda-speak that last sentence.)

Lastly, it’s been ages since I mailed into F365. Hope all you readers and writers are doing well. Don’t you just love a major tournament? Especially after the last year and a bit. And yes, just in case you’re wondering, I really am 27 now.
Jack, 27, London (I’m an old fart)


Harry Kane though
I wrote in back in June about Harry Kane. The gist of it was….

“But honestly, do you think Harry Kane is or will be a better footballer/striker than Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez, or Robert Lewandowski. Genuine question.”

I did more or less get met with “What are you on about goals assists etc.” And other such pearls of wisdom. I think there were people who silently agreed with me, looking at subsequent mails and the comment section (Which admittedly is worth as far as you can throw it), but after the last few months and especially England, what.

And after these two Euro games….sooo we are saying that Harry Kane is unable to play professional football as a striker. He scores for his club, but really it’s not Harry, he is running in concrete when he plays for England.

This is not a knee jerk reaction based on current events. Somebody in the mailbox said with presumably a straight face that Kane would get into any team in the world. Any club side. You know who you are.

More than happy to put tribal feelings aside. I’ll repeat it. I’d take Suarez, Lewandowski, Benzema on a one year deal as they are NOW, over a guy is supposed to be in his prime and is one of the “Best” strikers on the planet.

And this is just the old guard. Let’s ignore the obvious young guns, you all know who they are.

On. The. Same. Level.

Why? Because he……isn’t. He is completely improven at elite level and so far has not, come on, has not, justified his hype. I liked Les Ferdinand, Andy Cole, Robbie Fowler, none of them got a sniff at international level and could wipe Harry clean out.

If anybody thinks that somebody is going to be stupid enough to throw 150 million at him at his age and ability, when there are sooooo many better, some cheaper, some equivalent, options out there, then football really has gone mental.

I called him “Andy Carroll’s slightly augmented cousin.” Injury wise for big games he isn’t there. Effort wise in big games he isn’t there. Ability wise in big games he isn’t there. I actually think Andy had better positioning at set pieces, but Harry might have the nod when it comes to finishing.

Johnny Ironballs


On the bright side
Just a quick mail to big up the England keeper, who had a good game and also the new central defensive partnership. Mings can be proud and Stones too. That’s it.
Peter (on to the next game), Andalucia


Scotland the magnificent
I know this might not be a popular opinion, but that was one of the best games of football I’ve ever watched. Not in terms of quality, but in terms of tension. I was biting my fingernails from first minute till last. It was tense.

And we were immense. What a performance. A great result for us and I’m proud of every single player. They were magnificent.

Now all we need to do is score a goal…
Mike, LFC, London


A neutral view
Good game to watch even though 0-0, pretty much like a PL game rather than international. England as an attacking force were poor. Two of the front three were taken off but Sterling couldnt have complained if he was also taken off. They weren’t great as an attacking force against Croatia either but it was forgotten because they won. Kane looks unfit and deserved to be taken off again. Danny Murphy tried to convice us on MOTD that England are purposely resting him for further in the tournament (how is that man making a living from punditry). The Scots passed the ball better, Gilmour was superb, Robertson and Tierney again showing they are both top drawer players. I had to laugh at O’Donnell basically smashing Grealish on halfway line. It reminded me of a tricky player taking the piss in a five aside game and one guy just having enough of it.

In conclusion, on this form when England play a level one team in this tournament, they will be beaten, just like WC really. If the Scots play like this against Croatia they will beat them but this is Scotland so expect another glorious failure.
Ken, Cork, Ireland


Ally Ally Ally
Just as a bit of a throwback to a recent article on 365, McCoist was brilliant fun tonight. Best thing about the whole game to be honest. More please.
Jon (Levy has drugged Kane, 100%), Lincoln

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