Gareth Southgate ‘too nice’ and own-goal could be best thing that happens to Harry Maguire…

Editor F365
Harry Maguire shakes hands with England manager Gareth Southgate.
Harry Maguire and Gareth Southgate both face scrutiny after England's recent fixtures.

The Mailbox bemoans the Harry Maguire pile-on while suggesting that his own goal could work out for the best. Also: Jordan Henderson might be smarter than we’re giving him credit for.

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Southgate too nice
I wrote an email which was published before the Euros in 2022 slating Southgate and saying we had no hope. How delighted I would have been to be proved wrong but alas, Southgate proved his true colours in the final, reverting to his oddly defensive football while his team were eviscerating the Italians in the first half as a delirious Wembley roared them on. We all know the rest.

I will reiterate what I said then, because nothing much has changed. Southgate is a likeable, erudite man, who desperately wants to succeed, and has come (to be truthful) very close. It’s nothing personal, from me at least. The bottom line is, England have done well DESPITE him, and that is for the following reasons in my opinion:

He sets up a team, first and foremost, not to lose and England currently have a team that can beat anyone. Let’s not worry overly about the opposition, because we have Foden of the European Champions, we have Kane, of the German Champions and Bellingham, arguably the hottest young talent in the World. Take a look at the calibre of players who didn’t start last night; Saka, Grealish, Maddison, Alexander-Arnold etc.

Then on to Maguire. Even as a Liverpool fan, I felt desperately sorry for him last night. He didn’t deserve the ridicule he got, that was brutal, bullying stuff. He’s another one – intelligent (for a footballer), a nice guy, good to have around the squad, a decent human being it seems, just like Gareth. But his time was 20+ years ago when central defending was about heading out corners from muddy six yard boxes, playing through injuries, last ditch tackling, man-handling a 6ft tall target man. In the mould of a Jack Charlton, a Terry Butcher, or a Tony Adams. He doesn’t fit into a modern international side playing out from the back, he gets found out.

Ten Hag has seen that and dropped him, because he’s ruthless. As Pep was ruthless (see Joe Hart), as Klopp, Shankly, Clough, Ferguson, Mourinho and in fact ALL winning managers are, but we persevere with Gareth, cos he’s never going to be caught taking bungs and shagging his secretary and he will keep picking players who he likes to have around because he is, at heart, a lovely bloke and we need the exact opposite.

It’s a brutal game, full of nasty people, and Southgate is a nice guy, and nice guys never win, apart from in the movies.


Damned if he does…
This is in response to all the negative mails coming in about Southgate, particularly not coming out all guns blazing in the second half against Scotland. What if we had and they had got back into it? Surely not risking losing and keeping morale up by beating an old enemy is preferable. Just a thought.
Dave (looking forward to my first woman’s match at the Emirates next week) bracknell


Humble Harry
That own goal is the best thing that could’ve happened to Harry Maguire.

Chances are he’ll play on Saturday and the last thing United – or anyone other than Gareth Southgate – wants is a cocky Maguire, strutting into midfield, taking an eternity on the ball, losing possession and showing the agility of an oil tanker to get back in his defensive line before berating Johnny Lindelof for failing to stop a 3 vs 1 counterattack.

A petrified, dare I say humble Maguire? I’ll take that. He’s at his best* sh*tting himself and moving the ball to infinitely better players (hopefully wearing red but don’t hold your breath), refusing to move from his penalty spot where he can just spread his massive arms, close his eyes and head the ​****ing ball like he was born to do.

Brexity championship approach might be our best bet at keeping the score down anyway.

*least sh*te
Simon MUFC


Maguire pile-on
Good afternoon people, can I just say this Harry Maguire pile on is getting to much now, the lads confidence is obviously shot and the constant abuse he gets would get most people down. Yes he has had a bad time of it lately but Southgate is complicit in that playing him regardless of form basically setting him up to fail. Maguire may be a footballer who plays for United who as we all know in the eyes of every other fan are the devil but he is also human and deserves a bit of slack.
Okay got that of my chest now on to England, unless we replace Southgate this team of excellent players will win nothing, he is football’s equivalent to beige, he is Mr safety first and lets set up not to get beat, lets face it playing Bellingham on the left so he can accommodate Henderson should be a sacking offence on its own. A front three of Rashford, Kane and Saka with Bellingham just behind would frighten any team in the World but Gareth just has to have two holding midfielders no matter who we are playing against, got to make sure Malta don’t overrun the midfield eh Gareth.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


…We live in an instant, digital world. One of reels, memes, tiks and toks. Of comments, likes and tweets. It’s empowering

And degrading. Because it seems our ability to resolve dissonance is also limited by our newly reduced attention span.

Is Harry Maguire the best centre half in the world? No. But he is a very very good one worthy of the caps he has. Time to cut him a break.

Are all those criticising him going to not cheer on principle if his fantastic noggin meets a Trippier corner in the 92nd minute of a Euro 24 final? No
Darren Whitehouse


Path to glory
Gareth Southgate is a man of many parts – Poor man management (Chilwell, Sancho, all those penalty takers, and numerous others, including former head boy Sterling); Non existent tactics – loving the full backs apparently now “inverting” and moving beyond the halfway line and the non progressive passing; Unbelievable in game management (no brackets required); and, of course, the incredibly impressive choking under pressure (Croatia, Italy, France, etc, etc.). In management terms, he probably ranks somewhere behind Ole and Gerrard , and possibly even below our Frank. But whatever…we are where we are and I guess, at least we don’t have Martinez.

However, if Maquire exits stage left, Henderson goes back to his McDuck pool of loot, left backs continue to exist, Phillips doesn’t get to play for Citeh and therefore can’t form his double pivot of doom with Rice, and attacking players actually get to play in their actual position (not a given)…then it starts to seem like the heavens are aligning.

Its a narrow path, but Pickford in goal; Walker (in the enforced absence of James, obviously), Stones + 1, Chilwell (or Shaw when he gets back); Rice backstopping Bellingham and Foden (or Maddison) in midfield; any of Saka, Foden, Grealish, Sterling, Rashford or Eze supporting Kane…and we’ve got quite a team. There’s possibly even room for Mount if we need a buzz kill.

The big question, of course, is can “the best manager since Sir Alf” f#ck it up from here…I’m not hopeful.

On the other hand, in Jude we trust!!
Matthew (ITFC)


Euros final spoiler
I can just see it. Can almost taste it on the air.

England in the final at the Euros, against a rejuvenated Germany led by Jurgen Klopp doing it as a 4 week part time gig for the craic.

England looking good through the tournament, Bellingham, Foden, Kane all firing, confidently despatching Italy in the semis, 3:0.

A tight final, nip tuck, lots of stylish play and chances for both teams. Into extra time under the lights in Berlin, still nothing to separate the sides, and penalties loom.

But it’s been blisteringly hot – the summer has seen a heat wave in which thousands die across Europe – and England have used all their subs. Yet, inevitably, Maguire remains on the pitch. Ref blows full time. Penalties!

This time England are determined to flip the narrative. They’ve brought in 15 penalty consultants, engaged the services of 45 data companies, 7 hypnotists, a brain-training AI which actually alters the physical brains of the England players, and a snake charmer.

The penalties fly in! Each one better than the last. All of England’s efforts threaten to rip the net off the stanchions.

The Germans slot theirs in typical fashion, like a bored businessman placing his rubbish in the correct bin on a train station platform.

Down through the rosters they go. Tick, tick, tick. Germany go 10:9 up. Pickford steps forward to take England’s tenth, and actually rips the net off. The whole net. Off. 10:10.

The penalties switch to the other end, as all the spare nets were used catching refugees outside the stadium before kick off.

In front of the England fans Ter Stegen slots bottom left, 11:10 to the hosts.

And out of the heat haze, marching from the centre circle, comes a glistening forehead. A slab. It’s Harry.

No, not Kane, Maguire.

As he places the ball on the penalty spot, a curious sound rings out over the stadium. It’s like nothing anyone has ever heard before; a strange, arcane droning.

But to those in the know, calm as others around them fret over England winning a tournament, it’s the unmistakable sound of The Fates!

Five steps back, a look at the ref, Maguire commences his run up.






Planting foot…



New No.50?
I appreciate the long, LONG-running joke of Phil Neville at number 50 on the England ladder. But surely to God it’s time to end it now? He’s been retired from football for at least 10 years. That joke isn’t funny anymore.

Not to worry though, there’s a ready-made replacement who is perfectly set to sit at number 50 for the next two decades: James Milner! He is the natural heir to Neville the Younger and probably will still be able to do a job for England well into his sixties.

You could even add in a trademark: “He’s useful, like a colander/sieve/spatula” reasoning, just for old times sake!

Just a suggestion,
Lee, useless, like a chocolate fireguard

Read more: The famous F365 Euro 2024 England ladder: Big names consolidate as Foden and Guehi climb
Trent in midfield
I know this subject has already has already been discussed at length, but watching the last couple of England games really made me wish Trent was moved into midfield at Liverpool. For me he’s the best current English passer of the ball by a country mile, potentially up there with Beckham & Gerrard at their best. Not a deft touch possession based passer like a Xavi or Scholes, but consistently probing excellent balls into space and dangerous positions. England seem to have the no.6 role completely sorted in Rice, and likewise Bellingham playing as a no.8 or no.10 depending on the opposition, but that 3rd midfielder is a problem. Southgate likes Phillips for his passing or Henderson for his energy / leadership, but both players are going backwards. Bit of a public clamour for Foden to play centrally, but I think if you’re playing a no.10 with a freer role then Bellingham is your man. I personally think Trent has the range of passing and energy to perfectly complement Rice & Bellingham, and wipes the floor with both Henderson and Phillips. Gallagher and Ward-Prowse are decent, but wouldn’t say special. But it’s safe to say that Southgate won’t employ Trent in that role against meaningful opposition unless he’s playing there regularly for Liverpool. Which takes me to Klopp. I know he’s had great success employing his fullbacks as his most creative outlets, but everyone has sussed out that Trent defends like a midfielder (the position he grew up playing) and target that area accordingly. Trent isn’t a terrible defender, but he’s never going excel at it either, which will keep costing us. Just feels like common sense / appropriate timing to start making that midfield switch, that would benefit both club & country. As a fan of both Liverpool & England, would love to see it happen. And as a huge fan of Trent, feel it’s what his career needs. Klopp & Southgate are both stubborn beasts though, so unfortunately suspect they’ll hold their lines.
Simon, Bristol LFC


Henderson in hindsight
I read the entire interview that Henderson gave, and as everyone has reported, it convinced nobody. He literally contradicts himself on pretty much every point. “I’m not here for the money, but it was important”, “There was abuse but then there wasn’t”, “I am not here to change anything, hopefully my arrival can bring positive change”.

He also made it out as if somehow he was the victim of his own advocacy? Like those who need advocacy don’t have a whole world of problems, problems he was apparently meant to be aware of? He does seem to try to steer away from directly supporting lgbtq+, and pretty much puts it on them by saying “People ask for my help, and I give it”. If you didn’t ask me, you wouldn’t have been disappointed…”Sorry you feel that way”!

This was similar to his points on Qatar and the problems there. I have heard a few players now use the same line, “We were shown the horrors before we came and agreed, but when you are actually there, it is actually not what’s reported”. That’s not verbatim, but by and large, that’s what he, and they, are all saying. I find this annoying as they either believe the lies they are shown when they get there, or they believe us to be stupid enough to buy that pre-crafted and quite frankly, pathetic answer. As if Qatar or any other nation were going to take him and the team to the camps, or let them have 1 on 1’s with those actually affected. So much for “Not burying your head in sand” ay Hendo?

He says a few times he is not there to change anything, and how could he, but he also says that by him and others being there, things can change. It is like he is trying to appease more than one audience at a time, and with those audiences being so far apart in ideology, he’s made the mess it was.
He says nobody has directly told him what to say, but clearly many of his answers have been given to his manager for him to answer. He literally says nobody said what he says, to follow the next sentence with, “you have your values and your beliefs, but you have to respect our values and our beliefs”. – So, you were told.

He also adds that what if it is true what goes on, is the change not a good thing, even if slowly? Again, a few contradictions to his own words, but this is where my point will be made, and where, despite the contradictions, the real truth lies (Combined with a boatload of cash of course). He mentioned many times that him and others being there is a positive.

I watched an interesting take on the potential Saudi plan on Economics Explained (A channel on YouTube worth checking out). They theorized that what is going on with Saudi and the Middle East today, is much like the gold rush times in the American West and California, Except today’s commodity of choice is oil.

Before California was what we know it, it was a barren and rough terrain, inhabited by very few people, and attracting those seeking wealth, by whatever means. It started with the mines, which brought companies to provide services for the mines, and eventually, businesses completely separate from mining all together. It was not perfect, but like all things, it must start somewhere.

Saudi is at this stage. Plenty of wealth to grow, but not the natural mechanisms to do so. This is where foreign interests come into play. Many will move to start businesses there as the government will support it, and there will be a semblance of normality for those who move, by having many of their life comforts there, like football. It also makes moving there easier knowing it’s not/no longer a death bed for poor migrant workers and a location for human rights abuses.

Henderson may have been mostly full of it, and couldn’t admit the most logical reason for going, but to stay he is a complete liar I would disagree with. If in 10, 20 years, there is positive change, advancement of human rights and more, then maybe we will all look at Henderson as a more astute politician that even he gives himself credit for..which is saying something.
Calvino (Bit late to the party I know)

Gareth Southgate shakes hands with Jordan Henderson after a match.

Ten Hag tinkering
Ok then, back to domestic football again shortly. Thought I’d have a tinker with what bare bones utd have to select from this weekend.

Looking at Utds squad we seem to have only 17 outfield players to pick a matchday squad from. And that 17 includes 2 we’ve just signed (Regullion and Amrabat) plus 3 that are expected to be back from injuries in time (Mount, Martinez & Lindelof)

I’d assume our back 5 is going to be Onana, AWB, Lindelof, Martinez & Dalot again. Maguire and Evans seem to be our only cover for them (+Regullion). Midfield will probably revert back to Eriksen, Fernandes & Casemiro with Aramat too soon to feature and not sure if Mount will force a return so they will likely be options from the bench. Thankfully, we still have McTominay as we may well need him for this game – maybe he can bring his Scottish scoring boots back to Old Trafford?

And the really big screw up is our lack of attacking options, While a possible front 3 of Garnacho, Hojlund and Rashford might actually be quite interesting to see, the only other possible attacker we have is bloody Tony I-can’t-be-arsed-to-make-any-effort Martial.

Personally, I’d be playing with a front 2 of Rashford and Hojlund so I could include McTominay or Mount in our deserted midfield. And by having Garnacho on the bench at least we have one option for later in the game should we need it – he seems to be better coming on than starting anyway.
Jon, Cape Town ( A lack of competition for places is the last thing Utd need – Good job we’re so crap at selling players or we’d struggle to field a side at all)