England players ‘too thick to learn tactics’ and Southgate should drop three of them for the semi-final

Editor F365
England manager Gareth Southgate consoles Phil Foden
England manager Gareth Southgate consoles Phil Foden.

Gareth Southgate is a genius deliberately catering to players who are ‘too thick to learn tactics’. England are also winning in spite of him. Go figure.

Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com.


Best thinking to do is drop Forden and Kane.  We have players to cover and do a  better job


England need to go back to a 4-4-2 set up with Toney and Watkins up front, Gordon and Saka on wings, Bellingham and Mainoo center. In the defence, Arnold at right-back, Gomez left-back and the rest the same as the current team. As it stands the midfield is just non-existent and you always need 2 up front. 


Nursing a semi
I’m excited.  Spain.  France.  Holland.  England.  If four supercars in varying nick with varying attributes lined up for a day at the track, you might believe that not pushing excessively hard, staying out of the marbles and taking your laps safely and assuredly could be enough to clock the fastest time of the day.  Gareth is absolutely the kind of dude that would be looking for an eco-mode toggle in a Bugatti, he might just bring this thing home you know.
Eric, Los Angeles  CA  (Also looking forward to Colombia vs Uruguay but that would be less a supercar matchup than guys on dirt bikes maybe.)

READ NEXTFrance will obviously bounce Spain out of Euro 2024 because life and the universe are just that cruel


Christ, the redeemer?
One of the things that really got on my nerves this weekend was this idea spread by commentators that Saka had “redeemed” himself by scoring a penalty.

Saka didn’t “redeem” himself any more than Pearce did in 1996 as there is nothing to forgive.

We’re in the semis so stop moaning – and kudos to Konsa – what a player!
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Iceberg ahoy?
It’s a results business and Southgate now has a World Cup semi-final and quarter- final, and a Euros Final and (at least) semi-final to his name.  The question remains as to whether this is because of Southgate or despite him.  These are signs I suppose that he has made us “tournament savvy”, but personally I’m still in the latter camp.  I think we could and should have gone at least one step further in each of those competitions, and a better coach might have seen us do that.

That said,   “style of play” criticisms, are perhaps a little unfair.  When you look back at previous tournaments over the last 50 years or so, how often has the winning team “won it in style”, having played like Brazil 1970, or anywhere near it?  Not that many,  especially since the turn of the century,  Winners seem to have mostly ground their way through the tournament winning mini-wars of attrition , achieving marginal gains via  favourable refereeing decisions, making fewer mistakes than their opponents, being better at penalties, and dumb luck.  Or in the case of Spain, passing opponents to death until they surrender out of sheer boredom.

In my previous email I,  among myriad others,  said a back 3 plus wing backs was the way to get some attacking width.  Well Gareth went for it, kind of, but ultimately his only change in personnel was the enforced one of Konsa for Guehi.  So he basically just shuffled the dysfunctional deckchairs he’d used previously, still keeping Trippier on the wrong side and denying us any kind of left side width – yet somehow managing to avoid the iceberg.  It was slightly better but only because Saka had the beating of his man down the right.  The “tried and trusted” full backs continued to be largely awful.  Whether playing as a conventional RB or in a back 3, Walker still seems unable to kick a ball in a straight line to one of his own team-mates, or even their general vicinity.

Saka, who I previously criticised as predictable,  was finally able to use his go-to “cut in onto his left and cross/shoot” move to good effect.  It might have had something to do with him having finally gone down the outside on his right most times before that.  The double markers were probably expecting him to do that again, which allowed him a bit of space when he surprised them by reverting to type. I guess that’s what mixing it up a bit can do.

I’ve been a big fan of Kane but he looks old and tired in this tournament.  Nowhere to be seen when Saka played a cross into a dangerous area, but then neither were Foden or Bellingham.  I can’t see Gareth dropping any of his stalwarts though.  I expect a similar 11 for the semi, and a similar grinding out of whatever result we get. Oh well.

Credit though to Gareth and the players for practising the and keeping their nerve.   Awful way to decide top level games though.
Kevin Villa (were you watching Glenn Hoddle?)

👉 No Kane or Foden in England teams picked to play the Netherlands
👉 The ten greatest England players in European Championship and World Cup history features Southgate pair
👉 Why England and Southgate must drop Harry Kane at Euro 2024: his record in semis and finals is shocking


Glad to see Johnny is well, but…
Damn Jonny Nic,

I assume you are feeling 100% again after that.

Great news on a personal level. Well done you, Cant imagine how tough it is not to be ‘well’

Good luck in your continued health (and seeming hatred of all things..)

England are through to yet another semi. Gareths record is unarguable. This is as good as we have ever had it. All this is true

But .. and I hate using a ‘But’… You cant help agree (because of the actual eye test) at least a little that that this does seem to be despite some or all of Southgate’s decisions (or lack thereof)

I would 100% rather be lucky than good. I would 100% rather be England than Germany or Portugal (both touted as ‘definite possible’ winners playing great football as a team only a game ago)

The argument if we had lost on pens would have been ‘see – the 1st decent team we played we lost’. But Gareth has installed that level of trust in each other and calm and confidence in these players. Before him we lose that shootout (unproveable Jonny I get ya..) but history is proof enough if you are using the same arguments!

We still  might go out to the Dutch.. and they might then be the ‘1st good team we play’ or it might be France / Spain.. or we might win the whole thing

Either way… Im not sure Wokeness or Knuckle Dragging Imperialism or Politics will have anything to do with it one way or another!

Comon Gareth Lad, Comon England – My Car flags are getting battered to hell but lets keep them on for another week!
Al – LFC and England 


Dear Football 365,

John Nicholson writes…

“Not alpha enough. Too liberal, wet and ghastly. They have to ignore the facts to sustain the anger, because it suggests being mild-mannered and empathetic is successful. God forbid being nice beats nasty. Nasty gets very angry at that. If only we were more nasty. That’s what we need. His neck just isn’t thick enough like a real man’s.”

Nobody is saying any of this. John Nicolson is so desperate to flaunt his progressive credentials he’s making things up and putting words into the mouths of people who he disagrees with. Perhaps he thinks everyone who is critical of Gareth Southgate is some kind of swivel eyed Daily Mail reading gammon. But since Football 365 themselves have been critical of Southgate that’s clearly not the case.

And as for the part about Hitler, that had absolutely nothing to do with anything. Certainly not football, or anything to do with the criticism of Southgate’s team selections and tactics. Is John Nicholson now labelling anyone who criticises Southgate as a fascist?

It seems Football 365 have gone back to being the Southgate fan club and have forgotten about him once picking a player who played his club football in a country with a very dodgy record on LGBT rights. Until we lose the semi-final or the final and they’ll remember that again and be back in the Southgate out club.
Dan, London 


Goofy Gareth is just a big act
Its simple.  The bulk of England’s players are too thick to learn tactics.  So Gareth decides they have to stick with one basic structure for the duration of the tournament, and build that based on facing the best team in the final – an all or nothing approach.  But, it doesn’t really matter who that is because we know it will be a team better than us.  So, he sets us up to kill the game, play sideways and backwards, try not to give away a goal and be ready to nick it on pens.  If we get it wrong and go out before the final, it doesn’t matter because we’re there to win.  It’s only the final that matters.

To back this up, he creates a smokescreen suggesting the team isn’t playing that well, and hoping it gets better.  But he knows he won’t change it.  They are playing exactly as he wants them to.  Everyone sees it as dull. He sees it as honing the approach.  If there’s no time to drill the team in training, drill them during the real games.  He hopes to get pelters because that takes the heat off the team.  But in reality, he finds everyone is actually being quite reasonable, so he has to pretend he’s deeply hurt by it all and poke the public – who then become angry at being attacked, the criticism becomes real and truly does take the heat from the players.

It’s worked so far.

Just saying.

Oh, and Gary Lineker’s in on it too.

Gareth, you are a genius. An honorable and gallant man, and I salute you.  Although for purposes of perpetuating the myth you surround yourself with, you’re a complete and utter ball-less f***wit donkey, with the coaching skills of a tambourine.
Ally, London


England selections are irrelevant
Dear Sir,

At this point, I truly believe it is an utter irrelevance as to who Southgate selects or what formation he chooses.

England’s name is already on the trophy. From the moment Southgate was named England manager they have had nothing but glorious luck on their side and have still been unable to get over the line. I fear this occasion may well be the occasion they finally manage to do it. A dour tournament where sides seem absolutely determined to play the most boring brand of football will be won by an England side who have benefitted from one of the most jaw droppingly easy draws I can remember seeing.

They have managed to make the semi final after managing one win in regulation time against Serbia. Then having to get past the might of Slovakia and Switzerland in the knockout stages. The Netherlands are not the force they once were and will be easily dispatched. Then there’s the winner of Spain v France in the final. Whichever side prevails from that game will be knackered as a result of having had to play against actual opposition. Plus France’s best player is clearly not fit and unable to see properly.

England will win it, the media will make out it’s the greatest tournament victory of all time and we will never hear the end of it!



World-class Gaz
With people desperate to credit Southgate as a resounding success because of his amazing record while managing one of the most talented squads of players (currently ranked 5th, only France left above us at the Euros). The key thing seems to be comparison with previous managers. And while it’s apropos to consider this list includes luminaries such as McClaren, Allardyce, the Turnip and Hodgson – along with Sven whose only club successes came while bankrupting Lazio – it’s also reasonable to consider how he ranks against actually good managers. I look world-class at dancing if you compare me to Ed Balls.

Let’s start with that, at £4.9m per year, he is by far the highest paid at the Euros and I believe the most of any International manager. Incidentally, Xabi Alonso gets paid £4m pa.

When you take account for it being basically a part-time job (100 games over 8 years is an average of 12.5 per year, vs 45-60 for a top-end club manager), his approx £286k per game puts him well within the “salary per game” range of Emery: £100k; Arne Slot: £128k per game; Ancelotti: £160k; Arteta: £183k; Klopp: £250k; and even Pep: £333k.

Please tell me again that Southgate is of that calibre and that we should all be eternally grateful.

👉 No Kane or Foden in England teams picked to play the Netherlands
👉 The ten greatest England players in European Championship and World Cup history features Southgate pair
👉 Why England and Southgate must drop Harry Kane at Euro 2024: his record in semis and finals is shocking