Keep your mails coming to email@example.com…
Steak and Southgate
I’m not much of a cook, but I do make a mean steak. Get the pan (cast iron) super hot, perfectly season the meat, and cook it for the perfect amount of time to get it cooked to a perfect medium rare level. My problem is, that I’m not so good at the other stuff. So when I do the roasted greens and chips from scratch, I worry that I’ll screw them up and accordingly give most of my attention to the sides. The reality is that giving them extra attention doesn’t hide the fact that I just don’t cook them very well. But there’s a flip side – because I’ve given so much attention to the problem dishes, I’ve neglected the one that should have been the star, and the steak, and by extension the whole meal, suffers for it.
This is Southgate’s problem. He’s been given a side stocked with top tier attacking talent (and full backs) but allocates 5 of his 10 outfield players to problem positions for England – defensive midfielders and centre backs. The best, most in form players are missing out, and so is England’s ability to be a strong attacking, top side, to attempt to paper over the cracks of the weak positions, creating a formation that just doesn’t suit the best players. Some comments:
1) The top 6 sides in England (by 2019-20 finishing position) all play a variant of 4-3-3, with a flat back four and three forward players. Some (Man City, Chelsea, arguably Man United) have centre back as their obvious weak link, but back their talent further up the pitch to more than cover for this – they don’t move to a back 3 to compensate.
2) Jadon Sancho was one of the players of the year in world football last season, yet didn’t get picked against Denmark and has struggled when forced into an unfamiliar role for England. He’d prosper as a wide forward in either a Man City (as a Mahrez/Sane-esque winger) or Liverpool style (Mane/Salah-esque wide forward) style front 3.
3) Jordan Henderson is the reigning FWA player of the year and 2nd in the PFA player of the year standings, excelling for Liverpool as a 6 and 8 in a 4-3-3, yet essentially always plays in a dual 6 for England when he does play. Either let him shuttle and link midfield and attack, or entrust him to anchor midfield, he’s far superior to Rice and Dier as an anchor.
4) Trent Alexander-Arnold is arguably the world’s premier right back (and 2x PFA RB of the year), playing as a normal right back in a deep playmaker role. Asking him to play as wing back and get high up the pitch negates his playmaking abilities. Just plonk him in at right back in a flat back four and let him do his thing. Alternatively Kyle Walker was the previous 2x PFA RB of the year, and a starting RB for one of the best teams world football has ever seen, and got dropped from the squad completely for a while and only seems to play as a centre half, which he’s never played at club level. It’s not that hard.
5) I know F365 hates Eric Dier, but managers all love him, and he seems like one of those players managers find a space for. Mourinho looked at him and realised he’s not a DM, but a CB – Southgate should follow suit and improve two positions in one go (and stop messing around with the likes of Mings and Keane). Similarly Joe Gomez is great for Liverpool in a back four and appears to be down the pecking order after one average game behind Harry Maguire (Maguire has had many) and right back Kyle Walker.
It really isn’t as hard as Southgate is making it. I’m venturing dangerously into armchair football management territory here, but a 4-3-3 (emulating the systems the best players in England play in) with Pickford; TAA, Gomez, Dier, Chilwell; Henderson, Phillips, Mount/Grealish; Sancho, Kane, Rashford/Sterling puts square pegs in square holes, while ensuring said square pegs are also the best players England has, not system players from the 7th, 8th, 9th best clubs in the country. There’s a problem position in midfield if Phillips isn’t up to the role, but on the whole that side is far more balanced than the mediocre shambles that started today.
Brings on Henderson instead of Grealish ✅
Grealish Not Even Starting? ✅
Mount probably has Southgate’s and Fat Frank’s Nudes stashed somewhere for him to be starting regularly. Reminds of the previous Man Utd Managers and their obsession with Fellaini.
Ole Gunnar Southgate is a numpty.
Get Arsene Wenger In You Cowards @FA
England’s bigger picture
It sounds as though “Project Big Picture“ (should be called Stand and Deliver In my opinion) has rightfully been put to bed for now following the Premier League clubs meeting earlier today.
I’d like to suggest throwing another item into the sweet stack rather than the proposed shit sandwich.
£8M a year or so allocated to the salary of the England Manger – the difference a top tier manager would make at International level is far greater than that at club level. Coaching rather than wading into the transfer market being a key differential.
Pochettino for England? Yes please.
I know it is not the prestigious job it used to be many, many….many years ago but throw cash at them and the opportunity of being the man who brought 54 years of hurt to a close has to be alluring to a top tier manager surely?
Brian (whilst also happy with the the job Southgate is doing to be fair) BRFC
…Am I mental or are all these commentators just naive? Maguire got sent off for the follow through Where he’s taken the ball (should’ve seen red for the first booking mind) and it’s poor from Maguire. Yet the referee has 90 seconds later given a penalty for a follow through by Walker, he clearly kicks the bloke on the follow through and they can’t see why it’s given??? Then with 5 to go Coady falls over, not a pen, never a pen and they are talking like England should have a penalty? Get real. No one mentions the real problems.
Southgate is all too quick to give everyone a debut. So players don’t play together as often on the 4/5 times a year they get together.
Is far to loyal to people like Pickford, Maguire and Walker. Who all 3 are at the end of their international careers.
Would happily play a combination of Rice/Henderson/Dier who are the same player with progressively awful hair cuts.
Does have a discipline problem, because he doesn’t set a precedent. 2 young lads break social distancing bringing a bird back, hung out to dry. 3 older more experienced players go on knees up at a party, aren’t? Where is the consistency?
We beat the number one ranked team in the world on Sunday (that title means jack all by the way), and then against Denmark we are litter, aside from the sending off, we weren’t ever in the game.
Listening after to Redknapp criticising the referee, no one is criticising the performance, the team selection. Does Southgate have another option bar rely on us getting a penalty and Kane smashing it home? I don’t think he does, and for all the raving of Mason Mount, aside from die hard Chelsea fans I don’t know many people who think he’s the second coming of Jesus like he’s made out to be, but I do think he fits the politically correct image the FA want, he’ll go see his nan every week, won’t swear in church and is never going to get done drink driving. England care to much about trying to get a result, they don’t try and win a game, put a side to the sword, when we do have the players to do that.
…Alex from London asked about bringing back a player in their prime who was either retired or had passed away to this England side, naturally with the nations Left Back issue I’d suggest Ashley Cole, easily.
However after yet another disaster from Jordan Pickford last night I’d suggest the departed but never forgotten, the greatest English goalkeeper of all time and that would be Gordon Banks.
Honestly I can see Pickford being the reason this impressive 2020/21 Everton side don’t mount a season long challenge for the Top 4, he just isn’t very good, has a proven consistency to make errors that often get punished one way or another, but back to England, surely it is time to hand the gloves to Nick Pope or Dean Henderson.
F*ck Vikings and Viking civilisation?
…It’s pretty obvious and sad what’s happening to Harry Maguire at the moment. His head is nowhere in the right place to be playing top level football (good job he plays for England and United then LOL). Whether he’s tired from last season, the drama in Greece has caught up with him or it’s something else (there is a pandemic on diven ya na?) even his harshest critic must accept that he doesn’t make this many mistakes this often. I’m genuinely worried he’s got some mental health issues.
United need to give him a month off to sort his head out. It’s their own fault they don’t have adequate cover but it’s more important for Maguire to get his shit together. Best of luck to him.
Nev’s problem with Alexander-Arnold
This has been going on for quite some time now but after tonight I feel compelled to bring this to the Footy365 readership to see if I’m the only one who’s noticed. It seems to me that Gary Neville never misses an opportunity to say something utterly demeaning about Trent Alexander Arnold. Let’s face it, he’s one of … if not England’s most creative player. But you’d never know that listening to Martin Tyler and Gary Neville. Always a subtle dig here and there about his defending; never says anything positive when he actually does do some defending. And when he gets benched by Southgate it’s because the manager “doesn’t fancy him at all…”
Seriously? Was that little dig necessary? For all we know England probably got strict instructions from LFC not to overuse Trent with the Merseyside derby coming up this weekend. Plus, like Henderson, he’s not too long ago got back from an injury. There could be a million and one reasons why Southgate didn’t pick him other than “he just doesn’t fancy him” or “there’s no room for him in the way England want to play.” Bollocks. Belgium was the toughest opponent this time round and England doesn’t win that match without Trent’s creativity.
For someone who’s won 13 PL titles and countless other trophies Neville sounds remarkably bitter about a 21/22 y.o. player who’s still developing. Probably some sort of professional jealousy there, but what’s Martin Tyler’s excuse?
These two commentators need to get a grip. They’re embarrassing themselves with their bitterness and overt pro-Man United bias. It’s bad enough that even on their more neutral days they sound a right pair of Liverpool-hating bellends… Be as unprofessional as you want, but know that you cannot demean and belittle a young player without demeaning and belittling yourselves.
Karen A. Brown (Soon to be Dr Brown)
What an awful decision, somebody somewhere has to be held accountable and take the rap. This decision could have a long standing effect upon the future of our national team.
Obviously who ever took it expected a handsome victory on the back of the win over Belgium and thought this an ideal opportunity to milk the situation, but nobody is going to go out and buy that blue shirt now, England, at home, wear white!
Howard ( that ref was sh*t wasn’t he) Jones
I’ve written a few mails in recently bemoaning the lack of quality in the Scotland team. The fact that we look slow and ponderous, have very little in the way of attacking quality and have been incapable of creating decent chances. They are all comments I would stand by and are illustrated by the fact that we have had 2 shots on target in the 300 minutes of football we have played this international break.
And yet. Somehow, those 2 shots on targets have led to 3 wins. We’re unbeaten in 8. Win our next match and we qualify for Euro 2020(21). More remarkable and hilarious than that, win 1 of our final 2 Nations League games we will win promotion to Tier A, mixing it up with the likes of France, Spain, Italy and of course, England.
It’s not without luck. The Czechs could easily have scored last night, as they could have in the reverse fixture. However, you have to give credit to Steve Clarke, who clearly has thought, if we’re terrible up front, we need to be incredibly solid at the back. 3 clean sheets in a row shows that we are.
It’s still not thrilling football but this break has the been the most positive set of results Scotland have had for a long time. We’ll be underdogs against Serbia, but if we defend like we have in the past 3 games, we’ll at least have a chance.
Mike, LFC, London
Project Big Picture
I’m a middle aged Swindon fan, and have been here (here being faced with an uncertain future) before.
I write this before the England game tonight, so this may get lost in the response to that tomorrow. But like being an England fan, my loyalty to my club is born out of geography and therefore something I couldn’t choose.
Project big picture shows as Tom Reed points out how greedy some owners are, and how little they think of the fans, dressing the plan up with altruistic motives in their veiled attempt to seize power. It also details how much the game – in terms of its ownership and finance – has changed.
Is it irevocable though, as his article seems to come to the conclusion, or at least it doesn’t offer any solutions? What would happen if we chose to let the structure fail? Could this be used as an opportunity to allow “the big six” or those that wanted to leave and create a European super league the opportunity to do that, but to the benefit of the rest? Like Liverpool’s pivotal sale of Coutinho to fund a successful squad rebuild, could the English game cast out those that want to go, under a negotiated (have to be massive massive) parachute payment to the rest of the clubs / league. Allow the remaining (struggling not to go off on a Johnny Nic style analogy of Brexit) to restructure under the knowledge of a much lower tv revenue, adopt the much praised German 50+1 fan ownership, salary caps, bin off the Elite Player Performance Plan, and make the leagues about developing players and sustainable clubs for the fans (I leave the simple details of making the league system better to those much more well versed than me)
It would aim to leave a competitive rejuvenated structure, but one that would be like a clean olympics, to whatever European – steroids allowed – super league franchise the dissenters went off to join. Both would be good and have their benefits of watching. And as owners wanted to buy clubs / create franchises they could do it in the same cities with brand new teams and leave the existing clubs alone.
…The cynic in me is screaming that the whole PBP issue this week was the top 6 dipping their toes into the Covid-19 water. Project Super League may have been knocked back last night but it most definitely won’t be going away anytime soon. Let’s see them exercise more leverage if (God forbid) clubs do start going under.
I wrote on Monday that there is no such thing as a free lunch and I still don’t ‘get’ why the PL clubs want to give £250 million to the EFL. It’s not out of the goodness of their hearts that’s for damned sure, so why are they doing it? What do they care if lower league clubs go under? Wouldn’t affect their broadcasting revenue would it? Is it purely a PR stunt with each PL club coughing up a measly £12.5 million each for the purpose?
Would be most grateful if any F365’ers could put me out of my misery as I can’t see what advantage it gives the grasping bastards.
Mark (I’m not going to watch the England game, I’m not going to watch the England game, I’m not, oh bollocks). MCFC.
Save the venom for the hypocrites
It did make me wonder, when Paul Murphy asked to save the venom for the American owners, and the media in general have lambasted the project and were quick to talk about embarrassing climb downs, that it appeared to become, first and foremost, anti-American. Lord knows Trump is not helping them win love overseas.
I was just thinking how loved Mike Ashley is and how one couldn’t meet a lovelier pair in Sullivan and Gold – moving the team to the wonderful London stadium. I nearly forgot Vincent Tam, the Cardiff owner, voted worst owner in sports in 2013, the MCFC Emiratis who engaged in some investment skullduggery to circumvent Financial Fair Play. I couldn’t forget Sunderland’s Simon Grayson, a real live David Brent, who came off as a complete knob in Sunderland ’til I die.
Of course, they should be loved and not loathed because, after all, they are non-Americans.
Then we have the oh-so, very, very inscrutably English FA Chiefs, who all say how badly run the FA is/was, seemingly with no acknowledgement of their stint at the helm of this august body. NOW they think something should be done – mostly to thwart those dastardly Americans.
In the case of FSG, it is clearly better to be a bad non-American than be a good American.
Finally, in looking at the ‘other 14’ it was never going to be a starter. If ever there was a poor excuse for sportsmanship, one only has to look at this crowd. Play in neutral venues? Never, we need to play at home, because we did so well at home before the COVID break. Scrap the league? Yes, lets declare it null and void and have no one relegated. Give money to the lower leagues? Never, they are all swimming in it and the last thing we want is to fund a future competitor. Yup, all completely fit, proper and looking at the bigger picture. My arse!
If we ever, ever, ever wanted to see hypocricy in football, we have seen in it in spades.
United have spent
So NPR, THFC thinks Utd haven’t been able to spend big and dominate thanks to the Glazers leveraged buyout??
You do realise that bar City they have the highest gross and net spend in Europe.
This doesn’t include the fact they got Sanchez on a “free” & ended up paying him nearly £600k per week.
Since Fergie retired they have spent over £1billion and no manager has outspent Ole since he took over in December 2018.
They appointed Moyes on the say of the legend that is Fergie(yes it didn’t work out but imagine the reaction if they didn’t appoint him despite Fergies say so).
LVG made sense at the time(Holland did well at the world cup and he had a great cv.)
Jose was appointed as they wanted to win a big trophy(a league or CL within 3 years) which he generally delivered previously but is clearly a spent force.They were right to sack him.His last game-the 3-1 defeat at Anfield-was a shambles.He kept Pogba on the bench and brought on Fellaini instead.The only thing Fellaini did was hit a steward with a wayward shot…it happens except the steward was by the right corner flag by the Reebok stand at the time and Fellaini was shooting at goal from the left side of the box on the other side of the pitch!!
Hindsight is 20/20 with these appointments, as it is with signings.
Remember people scoffing in that Klopp was paying the same for Mane as Utd were for Mikitaryan and that Klopp was going for a Chelsea reject in Salah whereas Jose was going for it by buying Lukaku for £75m.
No one could have known how big the purchases of Salah and Mane would turn out to be.
Utd have spent more then PSG,Juventus and Munich(& Liverpool!!) so it’s very wrong to say the PL clubs should thank the owners for Utd not dominating.