England’s draw with Hungary in World Cup qualifying was one disappointment too many for some. Southgate, Mount and Kane out to start with.
Send your thoughts to email@example.com.
After Luke Shaw’s blatant foul to give away the penalty this evening, it’s quite sad to think that we will never see an overhead goal in football again as that would presumably also be “dangerous play”…
I’m sat here trying to decide if that Chicken Artist gag was good or not.
Who am I kidding, it was im-peck-able!
Jon (no? Im-peck-able? Anyone?), Lincoln
The latest failure
The crowd trouble!
We already qualified!
Which or both of these will be used as a distraction tactic for the latest southgate disasterclass?
Phil foden keeps his place – fully deserved after the performance against Andorra* (asterisk as Andorra are Andorra) but playing with the ‘first choice’ (as per jack Pitt Brooke) front 4, grealish, mount, Sterling and Kane.
Why is this the first choice front 4? Southgate constantly talks about loyalty – although if you examine this closely it doesn’t hold up considering his treatment of chilwell, sancho, ings and lingard.
Jack grealish – you can almost tell that southgate is itching to get him off, he doesn’t trust him but feels bullied into playing him.
Raheem Sterling – it’s been almost a year since pep has considered him first choice but southgate will start him no matter what – yes he had a good euros, but he could have been better, the media paint his performances as the peek but they really weren’t.
Mason mount – after a strong first half of last season he has been flagging, but again an automatic pick. If you look at Thomas muller (yes knocked out by England at the euros) he is not producing the same ‘numbers’.
Harry Kane – after the embarrassment of the summer and the redemption of a conference league hat trick he performed exactly as his Spurs performance this year suggested. It was a massive mistake to give a striker the captaincy, further compounded by giving it to an egotistical maniac who thinks he can do every job on the pitch apart from his own (see also Rooney, W).
It seems no matter what happens southgate will pick ‘his’ players and this has and will hold England back.
One of the main criticisms levelled at southgate is his inability to change a game. This harks back to the above in that he has his players and he backs them no matter what. In this group with Andorra and San Marino there has been ample opportunity to try out different strategies.
Instead southgate has made it clear there is a them and us in this squad – the stiffs play the weaker teams and I bring back my boys against the stronger teams. This breeds the circumstance that he has constantly found himself in in big games that he doesn’t know how to change things.
Why not try different combinations in these games – does Ben chilwell link well with grealish and mount on the left? Can Kyle Walker form a partnership with sancho on the right? Would Tammy Abraham have more of an impact with a stronger attack behind him?
England have missed another chance to try these things out – they might not work but surely trying them is better than the situation we know from history will happen, in that changes will only happen as a last resort and then throwing players that have never played before and hoping for the best.
England have a great pool of players (top 5 in the world) but they have a manager (who is a very good man – maybe slightly too patriotic for my liking but that’s by the by) who will constantly hold them back.
The sooner this is acknowledged the sooner it can be corrected.
More England thoughts
A few thoughts on last night’s game….
Poor performance and a mediocre result but one that was sufficient for World Cup qualifying purposes. Not sure if anyone is going to say this makes the case to have two defensive midfielders again, but to pre-empt this I’d point out Hungary had one shot on target in the game, a needlessly conceded penalty by Shaw. The only other real moment of danger was another individual mistake when Saka gave the ball away in our own area.
As for the penalty, far from an outrageous decision from the ref but it does show the grey area around these things. While it was silly and naive from Shaw, the ‘fouled’ Hungary player could never have got to the ball and only made the challenge to ensure contact was made by his head with Shaw’s foot. Really, a free kick to England with any other part of the body.
In some ways I like Mason Mount but Chelsea fans what is his purpose? Works hard, technically pretty sound and passing fairly good. But I’m struggling to see a specific reason for him being there. Conversely, I’m no fan of Henderson, for example, but you can see the thinking as to why he’s picked even if you’d rather he wasn’t. Discipline, experience, protect the defence, make it hard for opposition attackers. Chelsea fans see Mount regularly, what would you pin down as the specific weapons he brings to a gun fight?
While I get the non-footballing reasons he’s over-egged round these parts, Sterling continues to be both England’s problem and solution. In a Southgate side that often struggles to create from open play against half decent opposition his pacey, intelligent movement and knack for getting in the right place/right time is a definite plus. But, for someone considered an elite attacker, his lack of technique and ability with the ball is a big part of the reason we can find it difficult to make chances. To get to the next level I think ultimately we maybe need someone else in his position, perhaps Sancho.
Southgate seems like a lovely man and not at all the sort to be petty. So I find his treatment of Grealish bizarre. It wasn’t Grealish’s best performance last night but he was clearly England’s brightest and most likely spark throughout so a poor decision to sub him off first. It was the same in the Euros, he didn’t start any meaningful games (only the Czech dead rubber) when every other wide forward barring the injured Rashford did. He was just sent on when the game was getting away with a bit of a gun to his head. But we were always much better with him on the pitch. He was even the subbed off sub against Denmark, which led to 5-10 minutes of blind, backs-to-the-wall panic before we finally saw the game out against 10 men. It’s almost like Southgate is annoyed at the ‘clamour’ for him and wants to prove it wrong.
All that said, I was pleased to see just one holding midfielder and it was an attack minded team sheet. Personally, I’d go with one holder, three at centre back and attack-minded full backs.
Lastly, I know it’s fashionable and guilt free to knock Harry Kane and yes he was certainly poor last night. However, this is the first qualifier in around 15 he failed to score in. He also bagged four in the Euros and had a big hand in most of the other goals England scored in the knock out stages. The alternatives are nowhere near as good.
Ronnie Buzzard, Manchester
Come back, Premier League
Lampard for Newcastle boss? Do me a Favre.
Thanks, thank you. Thanks.
Tim Sutton (United will win nothing with Solskjaer)
Since Dale asked about why Newcastle will need to start off small, the answer is simple: they cannot force top players to join Newcastle instead of joining other clubs with more immediate chance of winning titles and trophies. (I thought about making a joke about PIF forcing them to join with threats, but sadly that seems a little bit too plausible to joke about).
Since Dale asked about other moneyed clubs and claiming they didn’t start off small, let’s go through them:
Chelsea: began by signing Crespo, Duff, Veron, Makélélé, Mutu, Bridge, Geremi, J. Cole and G. Johnson. Did not begin by signing Shevchenko or Ashley Cole.
Man City: began by signing Corluka, Bianchi, Elano, Bojinov and Petrov. If you discount the Thaksin year, began by signing Robinho, Jô, de Jong, Bellamy, Bridge and SWP. Did not begin by signing Tevez or Adebyaor/Nasri/Clichy or Aguero.
Anzhi: never really signed any big names/marquee players. They got famous older players with careers winding down like Eto’o, Roberto Carlos and Lassana Diara, but the most famous player they signed at peak age was probably Christopher Samba.
Monaco: Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez are probably the closest any of these clubs came to immediately signing marquee players. But the club didn’t really go on a massive squad overhaul, only two other players (Moutinho and Kondogbia) came in for big fees.
Malaga: Didn’t really sign anyone of note the first year. Even the second year, their biggest name signings were Cazorla, Toulalan, Monreal, Isco and Joaquin, not international superstars.
PSG: began by signing Pastore, Motta, Gameiro, Matuidi, Menez, Sissoko, Alex and Maxwell. Did not begin by signing Zlatan, Silva and Moura. Other marquee players came even later in the project.
They might very wel have all wanted to “go for the big names and the marquee players”, but they certainly didn’t begin by succeeding in signing them. With the potential exception of Monaco. Which might have something to do with the fact that there is 0.0% personal income tax rate for all residents in Monaco…
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Dale comes up with the point on who NUFC should be looking at to sign. There is one problem a lot of the players he mentioned earn good money now and want to play in the Champions league. After the debacle of the ESL, UEFA are looking at bringing a wage cap into the Champions league something similar to Spain & France.
The 2 countries mentioned have a 70% cap on wages to revenue so if UEFA were to do that then all NUFC money won’t help without significantly increasing their revenue. This season has seen problems for Barcelona meeting the La Liga targets without going out and buying the European elite Dale mentions.
How can NUFC increase revenue to the levels of those teams for which those elite players play for. The could try the City/PSG route of getting overly generous sponsorship but that has been curtailed as it is slightly disingenuous to sponsor yourself. They will generate more TV revenue if they are more successful. Their gate receipts are unlikely to increase markedly against say Man Utd, Chelsea or even Arsenal.
One of the interesting thing about the ESL was that only 3 of the 12 exceeded the 70% figure against the previous full seasons revenue compared to 12 from 20 in the EPL. This could mean they could go all out for the EPL and forgo the Champions league but would that be so attractive to players already paid so well.
None of this means that I believe that NUFC will not be successful it just that optimism needs to be tempered.
Gary in Germany.
Dale’s question: Why wouldn’t Newcastle target Mbappe etc? Answer: He wouldn’t come. From what’s come out so far, the owners of Newcastle seem to have a sensible approach to growing the club. They’ve made no grand proclamations, or statements of intent. So they absolutely won’t be targeting Son, Haaland, Pogba or any other player at that level, because those players would have no desire to join Newcastle. Why would they? They can get just the same money at a club playing in the Champions League so what would be the attraction of Newcastle?
Comparing them to Chelsea is pointless. Chelsea were playing in the Champions League, so could attract a better quality of player. Even then, they didn’t begin with anyone in the same league as Haaland or Mbappe, literally the most in demand players in the world. Crespo was probably the most high profile signing of the first window, but he wasn’t in that league.
As for City, they absolutely did start small. Shay Given, Craig Bellamy, Nigel De Jong. These were not massive high profile signings. Robinho is of course the one everyone remembers, but he was more a high profile misfit. He’s the kind of big name, but not in demand, player Newcastle could attract. See Coutinho for the modern equivalent.
So no, Newcastle will not be playing FIFA style football. They’re not going to spend £100m on a single player, but they might on 3. They cannot attract the best players in the world. They’ll start low profile, for no other reason than it’s the only option they have.
Mike, LFC, London
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite, suggests, with a straight face, that Newcastle will be looking to sign the likes of Pedri, Mbappe, Neymar, Haaland, Pogba, Kepa, and Son, whilst turning their noses up at players like Vardy, Lamptey, and Holgate.
It seems like many people are forgetting the one important aspect of any transfer – it requires the agreement of the player. Any club can agree transfer fees with any other club, for any player, but if the player has no interest in going, they won’t be.
Now, sure, let’s assume Saudi Arabia decides to pump enough money into Newcastle in January to be able to afford even one of the players listed above. The easy part will be in reaching an agreement with the clubs to allow them talk to the player. Hell, Pogba’s contract is up at the end of the season, they don’t even need United’s permission from January. Similarly, Kepa and Pedri would probably be available at a slightly less exorbitant price, given the former has lost his place to Mendy and the latter is at a broke Barcelona.
After that comes the hard part – convincing the player he wants to sign for you. As we all know, money talks. But at a certain point, it begins to be outweighed by other factors. I mean, the guys mentioned above are all multi-millionaires. They’ll pull in huge amounts of money regardless of where they play.
Now, I don’t mean this next part as an insult to Newcastle, I’m sure it’s a lovely city, but given this, why would they chose to move to Newcastle?
As I say, I don’t mean that as an insult to the city of Newcastle. It’s just a location issue, Liverpool and Manchester suffer from it too. How often has one of the top 5 best players in the world moved to Manchester or Liverpool at the height of his career?
There is also the squad to contend with. It’s going to take time for Newcastle to upgrade their entire squad. To put it into perspective, it took City 4 seasons to win the Premier League after they had been taken over. In the 4 seasons before being taken-over, City had an average finishing position of 12th. Coincidentally, Newcastle also have an average finishing position of 12th over the last 4 seasons. Of the 28 players to play a game in any competition for City the season they first won the Premier League, just 3 of them were at the club before the take-over, and one of them was sold in the January transfer window. What’s even more interesting, is that of the remaining 25, 17 were signed in the preceding 4 transfer windows, i.e. between summer 2010 and January 2012. City had to build a squad to make them into challengers, and then sign the players that would enable them to push on to win the league.
Newcastle may be aiming to take on the Top 4 of City, Chelsea, Liverpool, and United, but for the next couple of seasons expect them to be challenging the Second 4 of Spurs, Leicester, Arsenal, and Everton.
Love for Johnny Nic
What a brilliant feature! So heartfelt, real and incisive.
Regards from a very impressed reader