Jude Bellingham and his ‘hero balls’ not even England’s best player

Editor F365
Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka for England
Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka for England

Jude Bellingham is getting all the plaudits but the Mailbox is not convinced, while we have more views on Foden, Trent and…

Send your thoughts on all things England and Euro 2024 to theeditor@football365.com


Jude Bellingham not even best of England
OK – some of the mailbox reaction this morning and indeed a couple of F365’s takes on last night just need to be wound in a little.

Firstly, Bellingham wasn’t England’s best player. In the first half Saka was, and in the second half, Rice was. Overall I thought Rice was the MOTM, with Bellingham a close-ish second.

Don’t get me wrong, Bellingham was really good and at times was indeed unplayable, but he was also guilty of trying to play hero-ball on occasions, trying to beat two or three men when better options were available. I’m a huge fan, but with the quality of attacking talent around him, he really doesn’t need to do it all by himself. If he makes that minor adjustment then I believe he can truly dominate this tournament.

I get that although nominally the left sided attacker, Foden had more of a wandering brief. But you know what? It would have been nice if occasionally he thought about wandering out to the left wing (i.e. his actual starting position) and running at the full back from there. There was a huge gap in our attacking pay on the wide left throughout the game.

Shaw would have helped enormously in that regard, and I really hope he is capable of playing a part in this tournament. Trippier is a solid fill-in but our left side lacks something right now.

I always thought this game would be tight, Serbia are no mugs and their strengths up front matched our weaknesses at the back worryingly. Stones looked a little bit off it last night, so credit to Guehi who played well and justified his selection.

However main credit must go to Rice who shielded them magnificently. Quite simply – no Rice, no clean sheet last night

Trent made some errors but was mainly OK. However he faded out of the game, as did the clearly not fully fit Saka. He won’t get the credit but Southgate replaced them with exactly the right players in Gallagher and Bowen, we needed the injection of energy they both provided when they came on. If anything they maybe should have been on 5 to 10 minutes sooner than they were

I think Southgate needs to make sure Mainoo and Wharton both get some game time in the next two group games as I think our midfield will have a more solid look with one of them alongside Rice in the later stages.

Overall, it wasn’t perfect but we’re off and running with a win. Some tweaks are needed to our attacking play, but you can see the potential to grow is there.
Rob, Bristol Gooner (Please don’t take the Rice/Saka praise as Arsenal bias, it really, really isn’t)

READ: England Clamour Rankings: Anthony Gordon offers Trent and Foden solution


…The only surprise in the game was how awful Serbia were in the final third. Bellingham was exceptional? They say in the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king. Jude was supposed to feed Kane or Saka or Foden, did none of such. England’s play ended 70% of the time the ball got Jude in the 2nd half, either he was fouled (So Trent could waste it – no words on Trent), or crowded out, or dispossessed or…

I saw somewhere that he is the best English player ever. Is Micheal Owen and Paul Scholes is France 98′ jokes to you guys? Man scored a header from a cross. How about the guy who actually crossed the ball? No mention? Or Guehi’s shockingly good performance?

We can all accept that England lost control of the midfield totally after 30 minutes. Unless I am missing something, isn’t Jude one of the midfielders?

I am not a fan of Foden, but he needed help as he is no magician, Bruno feeds his wingers as does Kdb, Odegaard, MacAllister, etc in quality positions, breaking lines and isolating them with full backs.. That is Elite football. Foden unfortunately was starved, as was Kane.. because the suppose creators were Rice, Jude and Trent*,

Rice is not that guy in Arsenal.. that’s is where Jorginho, Partey and Odegaard comes in. Jude is not that guy in Real, they have Kroos, Modric, Cammavinga and to lesser extent Valverde and Ceballos for that. England has Wharton, Palmer and Eze..they did not play.

Jude will always run into the box and score goals, use his enormous energy to press and keep things tidy in midfield, same as Rice.. this are their best roles as shown by their stellar seasons at club level. They need help creatively. Trent is Southgate’s choice for that, but he is insufficient. I think Wharton should play. I think Rice, Jude will fare better and Foden will come in more…

…or maybe I just do not rate England, never have, never will.
Kufre, Port Harcourt, Nigeria


Foden is a brilliant Man City player, average England player
Another England game, another anonymous showing from Phil Foden.

Now, before I continue, if your conclusion from reading this is that I don’t rate Foden, you’re wrong. He’s one helluva player and rightly won POTY. However, bar the odd flash, he’s never done much in an England shirt; why is that?

This is just a theory, but he’s only ever played his club football under one manager: Pep. Whilst Guardiola is inarguably one of best of all time, he’s also incredibly prescriptive. He’s the very definition of a “systems” manager.

International football, with the comparative lack of time on the training pitch can never, and will never, be like that.

So the question is “is Foden too Pepped?”. Is he struggling to play his best football because he’s not got 427 different instructions for when he’s standing on any given square metre of grass?
Lewis, Busby Way

👉 Jude Bellingham’s England (just) beat Serbia: 16 Conclusions on an unnecessarily nervy opener
👉 Gareth Southgate is ‘poor man’s Moyes’ and Harry Kane is pointless…
👉 Jude Bellingham is Ali, Superman and Jesus Christ (and he has a fit dad)


Southgate and his substitution blindness
I’m know this has been said repeatedly for the past 8 or so years, but Southgate really needs to let someone else do the subs. There is a lot right about his management but his tactical changes are one-note and the note’s terrible.

He only brings on creative players when England are losing. How much pressure does it put on a player if they only ever get on the pitch with 10 minutes to save England? He’ll do it to Cole Palmer this tournament. He did it to Grealish last tournament.

Last night it was obvious to all that, as Serbia pushed forward for a goal, space opened up behind them. It was obvious that we needed more options in attack in the last 20 minutes. Foden was having a poor game and Kane was tiring. It was baffling that they both played the 90. Kane to Watkins was an easy switch. Foden to either Eze or Gordon was an easy switch.

If Southgate can’t work that out mid-game then, frankly, he should start pre-planning his substitutions. Even a Klopp-esque ‘change Foden for Gordon on 65 mins every game regardless of scoreline’ model would be better than the ‘if England are winning, don’t bring on any attacking players’ one. It cost us against Croatia. It cost us against Italy. It will cost us again this tournament.

If you want to play Kane for the full-90 every game on the basis of defending corners, that’s stupid but fine. But then you really, really (really!) need to bring on fresh attacking legs all around him.

We shouldn’t need to ‘talk about Foden’ as he should have been taken off after 65 minutes. There’s nothing wrong with him having a poor game sometimes. We took 6 wingers and 3 forwards to the tournament, we should play some of them!
Jonathan (AFC)


In other hands…
I can’t be the only person who watched the dirge that was the second half of the England game and thought to themselves,

“Imagine these lads under the stewardship of Ancelotti, or Pep, or Klopp! Can you imagine Heavy Metal Football with a front line consisting of Foden, Kane, Saka and Bellingham?”

Instead we get miseryball. What a waste.
John Matrix AFC


Trent is an issue
Do we have any other player who is “world class” but we don’t know their best position?

Trent can’t play in defence, due to defensive lapses. He’s now CDM, and it’s the same there. Is Southgate forced to play him?

BTW, I didn’t realise Bellingham is only 20. And also, he’s not even 21. Thanks BBC.
Simon S, Cheshire


How England should play v Denmark
Good to see England win their first game. On to the next. I’ve heard Denmark will play four in midfield so I’d quite like to see 3-5-2
where Walker drops alongside Stones and Guehi.

Allowing Wharton to play centrally with Rice, TAA in a position he knows way better, the starman in front, if Shaw is not yet match ready then Gomez over Trip’ then Foden up top with Kane.

Resting Saka for more important games.

Taking off Jude when he’s knackered for Mainoo looks like a decent idea too. Or even Eberichi Eze.
Peter (expecting Italy to beat Spain) Andalucia


Stop with the negging
Held off as long as I could I’m very aware of my own neggieness but was amazed at how quickly the neggies got their negs in.

It wasn’t a great watch, not even the first 35 minutes IMO but win your first game is the mantra of a serious team.

This feels like a new team, that has barely played as a unit and one that is missing a key component in Shaw. The movements of the players feels like we are trying to be much more fluid these days and I think if it clicks it could be really effective. Right now it looks a bit messy but we have 3 points in the bag hopefully we can get more used to the system and bed Shaw in and get him close to match fit for the knockouts.

Not entirely sure why Serbia sat off us like that but it was just what we needed after Iceland. Once they got off their arses though, the formation really stifled us. You could see they wanted to pin our full backs back and after the first 35 they did just that.

Saka was good and could have had the left back any which way he wanted but we stopped getting the ball to him in positions where he could turn his man. For all my negging on Trippier I thought he was okay. But the amount of times Foden was ahead of him in space and he just turned back was infuriating.

The Kane bashing is a bit unnecessary. He was basically wrestling with their centreback the entire game, had one chance and very nearly scored. Walker had a great chance but he should have backed himself and twatted it. I can see Trent pushing on in centre mid but he needs to be further up the park, not receiving the ball facing his own goal under pressure.

Bellingham was obviously immense, hope he stays fit – thought he was nursing his hamsting at one point but he seemed to come through. When he did go off, I thought Foden stepped it up a bit. Gallagher ran around alot and I quite enjoyed it. I actually thought he broke the Serbs rhythm and Bowen was effective. Looking at the squad we’ve got lots of like for like replacements which could work in our favour

How good was Fabregas? BBC made ITV look like one big cliche.
Tom, Could watch Bellingham all day…


…I had a lovely weekend with a lady friend in Virginia Beach under ideal beach weather, where we saw Dave Matthews Band play in a partially covered outdoor venue with a large lawn seating area. (Great show btw, though my companion and others complained that too few classics were on the set list.) I caught bits of a few matches in the bars and restaurants we passed through and checked Scores365 throughout for scores, but I missed most of the weekend’s action.

I did manage to get home about a half-hour into England’s match, which I promptly restarted from the beginning. 40 minutes in, I suspected it would end 0-1, and because England supporters never saw a win they can’t despise, the press and the Mailbox would be all doom for a few days, especially after Serbia and England supporters’ ugly mutual disrespect. Thus far, this seems to be the case, though Spain and Germany provide ample reason for gloom.

What I saw was a fantastic ball met by an even better finish – it was as committed a header as I’ve ever seen – that proved the difference in a match between two squads capable of stretching the other to the breaking point. England didn’t [quite] break, and Serbia did.

Of course, it’s reasonable to hope for a solid 2-0 or 3-1, but this is the Euros, and points are the priority. Consider that Denmark (21) is closer to Serbia (33) in the FIFA World Rankings than it is to England (4). Given Denmark’s opening draw to Slovenia (57), a mere draw with Denmark would give England a commanding position in Group C. Y’all should chill.

Not that Southgate had a good game. I thought he got the starting line-up close to right, but if TAA was following his instructions today, you have to question those instructions. And I very much agree with Dan McG LFC that it would have made sense to get Anthony Gordon on the pitch, if only in the latter stages. Even played on the right, he can stretch defenses like Saka, but he does it better than Foden on the right. Southgate’s post-match assessment that all of his forwards were excellent ignored Harry Kane, who did himself few favors, in an almost pointed way.
Chris C, Toon Army DC


This is why nobody supports ye
Looked at the mailbox this morning to see so many people complaining. I had to recheck the result – as I had thought. England won.

Before Southgate, England had won 0 out of 9 opening matches at Euros. Southgate has won 2 from 2.

Yet here are the England fans – being the first ones in to say “see i told ye all so after the first game – this is why we didn’t win the tournament: Southgate/insert player”

This is* why very few support ye and are all delighted when ye get knocked out. Doesn’t matter how likeable the Manager, staff and players are, the supporters and media are thee absolute pits. Constantly on the teams back from day dot.

*this, and many many years of enslavement and oppression of people all over the world. who knew that history in certain areas wouldn’t look so kindly on the English.