James, TAA and Chilwell all out of my England squad for Euros…

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My England squad for Euro 2020…
After headlining The Mailbox this morning with a prediction on the 23 players Gareth Southgate will take to Euro 2020, I am back with my squad were I to be making the decision.

I will be playing (on paper) a combination of 4231 and 433, dependent on the game state and strengths/weaknesses of the opposition.  I will essentially be using two CDMs behind a 10, or one CDM behind two 8s. However, it’s important to recognise I will be using the 325 shape for attacking phases of play and penetration in the final third that Pep, Arteta, Klopp and Conte use, and that Southgate has used too.  This in game positional transition will always involve two natural CBs and a full back to make up the back three. So, here goes:

My three GKs are Pickford, Henderson and Pope.  I have yet to decide who starts the first game, but my hunch is that it will be Henderson provided he keeps De Gea out of the Man Utd team for the remainder of the season.

I’m taking Trippier and Kyle Walker as my RBs.  Apologies to Reece James and TAA.  Apologies also to Lee Dixon, Paul Parker and Aaron Wan Bissaka.  I’m taking Luke Shaw as my LB and Bukayo Saka as my back up option.  It’s harsh on Chilwell, but Saka offers me an option in the final third off the bench if needed in a way that Chilwell simply can’t.

Stones, Maguire and Mings are my three CBs.  Yes, I’m only taking three.  Gomez has been broken all season, I’m not sure I trust Coady to play in a four during defensive phases, and I’m not taking Dier or Keane.

I’m taking Henderson and Kalvin Phillips as my two CDMs, and I’m taking Declan Rice to give me an additional option both as a CDM or as a fourth CB option.

Kane will obviously be my number 9.  Dominic Calvert Lewin will be his back up.  That is 15 players, now for the fun part.

Sterling, Sancho, Mount and Rashford are the obvious choices (to me at least) for the wide positions either side of Kane, (not forgetting Saka as an additional option too!).  Foden, Grealish and Maddison are the obvious options (to me at least) for the creative players in slightly deeper positions.

I now have one wildcard option.  I’m taking Jude Bellingham, who has looked very good in the minutes he’s had so far, and clearly has a great future, so he can be my equivalent of Sven’s Theo.

Sorry P Nev.

A bit top heavy I accept.  But I think I have my defensive bases covered through versatile options.  And there is lots of fun in this squad.  What does everyone think?
Naz, Gooner.


Qatar Boycott
I wanted to write in to give my opinion on Qatar and address the “6500 deaths” that have been quoted by Johnny Nic, various news sources and Amnesty Intenational and which are not disputed by the Qatari government.

Firstly I agree that giving the WC to Qatar was a terrible decision.  Apart from the footballing reasons, it is clear that Qatar has a poor human rights record and that immigrant workers are being exploited.  This is evident from the Amnesty report as well as everything else that has been exposed over the last few years.  According to the Qatari government workplace reforms have been made – possibly as a result of the extra media attention that comes from the WC – but whether these are real or will be effective is a different matter.

Johnny Nic and other news sources often lead with the “6500 deaths” line.  I have an issue with this being taken out of context because I think it is misleading when talking about the WC.  6500 deaths is actually normal given the overall population and we would expect similar numbers in the UK.  Why is this?  Here we get into some maths…

As per the Amnesty report, 6500 is the total number of deaths from South Asian migrant workers (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) in Qatar over the last 10 years since the WC was awarded.  It is not the total number of deaths of people working on WC projects (which are 37 according to the Amnesty article, although they note this is likely an underestimation as it is based on official statistics).  There are many other construction projects in Qatar apart from the WC, and there are many other jobs in Qatar that migrant workers do other than construction.  However 6500 is also an under-estimation of total migrant worker deaths in the last 10 years because it only includes those from South Asia.

Fine, you may say – but we should still not be accepting 6500+ deaths (right?) even if they are not only from WC projects…

The fact is that there are over 2 million migrant workers in Qatar.  The average age is about 35 if we look at demographics and most of these are male.  If we look at a country such as the USA where there are reliable statistics, we expect the probability of death for a male aged 35 to be 0.2% in any given year.  So with a population of 2 million, we should expect 4000 deaths per year, most of which will be due to natural causes, road accidents etc.  Over 10 years this will be about 40,000 expected deaths for the total migrant population.  We can adjust this for healthiness (unhealthy people will generally not travel for work) and for risk (construction / immigrant work in Qatar may be more risky than normal), but the overall picture is there.

6500 deaths over 10 years is therefore not an unreasonable number of deaths over 10 years from the total South Asian immigrant population.  We would expect similar death rates in the UK or the USA.  What is unreasonable in my view is the level of worker exploitation that we read about and which is not disputed, and this should be the main reason for suggesting a boycott.

I think there needs to be some “fit and proper” criteria for handing out events like the WC which could include the requirement to put in workplace reforms.  But as Ross Taylor says, what about Etihad sponsorship?  What about football clothing made out of Uighur cotton?  And is FIFA really responsible for human rights?  (etc etc)


I hope you allow this email into the next Mailbox and allow me to quickly respond to Adonis – AFC.

Of course I don’t diminish or belittle the deaths of people, in any amount, either small or large numbers i.e 6500 people.

Unfortunately, as has been pointed out, it is 10 years too late to make a stand about this. And what should the stance be about exactly? People dying on construction sites? This happens in the UK at least twice a week, and in every developed country in the world. Should we therefore boycott any building projects in the UK? The boycott / stance should be aimed at the corruption within FIFA that awarded the WC to Qatar in the first place.

I work in construction in Qatar and while it is impossible to defend all of the practices here, as ever the narratives and statistics are being twisted to form the latest liberal agenda of which JN will happily jump on ………. therefore creating “a liberal bandwagon”.
Plato – MUFC


EFL Cup issue
I simply don’t get the big issue with the clash of the EFL cup and the CL. Just decide that the teams who qualify for Europe don’t play in the cup…
Yes, it may make it a little less fancy, but on the other hand it will allow some teams to win a trophy. And surely a better solution that scrapping it completely, although to me that would be the best option and make the FA Cup more interesting again.
Andreas (Denmark won 8-0, so I am happy) Brussels



State of Irish football
Please don’t listen to people like Aaron CFC Ireland when they talk about the state of Irish football. Football is not 5th behind rugby and golf. FFS when’s the last time he saw hundreds of kids on a golf course on a Saturday morning up and down the country.Football is the most popular sport to participate in followed by GAA. Rugby is not even in top 5. Coaching at club level has improved and there are more UEFA licensed coached then before but we are still massively short on good coaches. This is a result of how football is run in Ireland.

The FAI has been run by an ego maniac for years who only cared about what was good for him rather than what was good for Irish Football, and before that a bunch of old men who only wanted to look after themselves and friends with regards tickets and jolly’s.
Until the FAI is sorted we will continue to get results like last weekend. There has to be huge change on how things are run and with identifying and coaching the best talent in the country,
Ken, Cork, Ireland


VAR consultation
After a shareholders meeting earlier this month the Premier League announced that it had begun a consultation on VAR with players and managers.

We at the Football Supporters’ Association believe one vital component is missing from that selection, however – match-going supporters.

We have launched our own survey of supporters which aims to pull together the opinions of fans throughout the country on the implementation of VAR, to examine fans’ experiences with it, and the areas that need improvement.

Stadiums have, of course, been largely empty for the past 12 months or so, so while we are asking those of you who have experienced VAR in stadiums to give us your feedback from what you can remember, we are also interested in your opinion as TV viewers.

The results of our survey will be fed into the Premier League consultation as part of our regular meetings with the game’s authorities, and we believe it’s vital that the fans’ view is heard on one of the game’s biggest issues.

The survey should take no more than five minutes to complete – we’d appreciate your time by filling it in here.
Garreth (Football Supporters’ Association)

Crystal Palace VAR Premier League


Kent XI
Here it is a Kent XI, Razor Ruddock and Neil Shipperly, surely a match for any eleven Essex could rustle up.

1     TONY BURNS – Edenbridge
2     GLEN JOHNSON – Dartford
3     JAMIE O’HARA – Dartford
4     ANDY TOWNSEND – Maidstone
5     NEIL RUDDOCK – Ashford
6     CHRIS SMALLING – Chatham
7     MARK BARHAM – Folkestone
8     DAVID SADLER – Yalding
9     TONY CASCARINO – St Paul’s Cray
10   NEIL SHIPPERLY – Chatham
Dave, Folkestone 


Statues of players
Hi there,

Great news for Rosie Poppins! Even if UEFA hadn’t relaxed FFP, Manchester City’s Emirati Overlords would be able to spend as much as they would like on commissioning sculptures of great former players and managers.

Only money spent on “football-related” expenditure is applicable for the purposes of FFP. A statue would be considered “facilities and/or infrastructure spending”, and is exempt from the regulations.
Dara O’Reilly, London


Player attitudes…
Graham, Glasow asks “Are there any other players mailboxers can think of with similar media assumptions on their attitude?”.

Yeah, pretty much any young black player.
Damian, Athenry