Shockingly, Gareth Southgate did not close the England door to a 23-year-old, but one man is shouting at the clouds about Harvey Barnes.
England for the English
‘Have you ever woken up one morning and felt as though you were a different nationality?’ asks Andy Dunn in the Daily Mirror.
Well no, but that’s because Mediawatch has nothing other than English in its immediate heritage, though on certain occasions – the scenes around the Euro 2020 final come to mind – we really do wish we could claim pretty much any other nationality. Scottish? French? Mauritanian? Where can we apply?
You know, drawn back the curtains, made a brew and then suddenly felt as though you are not from the country you were from the night before? Thought not. It is only in sport it happens.
That might be the whitest, most English thing we have ever read. People of mixed heritage can regularly feel Jamaican one day and English the next, or Bangladeshi in the morning before Scottish in the afternoon. And there are millions of Americans who will swear to St Patrick that they are ‘Irish’.
Go to bed English, wake up Scottish. Or vice versa. Apparently, it might happen to Harvey Barnes, although there has been no confirmation. Barnes, born in Lancashire and bred in Leicestershire, is 23 years of age and has made a senior appearance for England but can still alter allegiance through the grandparent branch of his family tree and through FIFA rules.
Yes he can and Mediawatch is left with a simple three-word question: So f***ing what?
Honestly, who cares? Well, clearly Andy Dunn but we’re not exactly sure why.
Would he consider switching if the current Scotland squad was as hopeless as so many of their forerunners? Doubtful.
Would he consider switching if he had a realistic chance of establishing himself ahead of so much fine attacking talent in the English ranks? Doubtful.
Look, it remains to be seen whether Barnes is seriously considering becoming tartanised but this is about the wider point. In football – as it has been in so many other sports for such a long time – opportunism is rife in the international game. Nowadays, no-one even tries to disguise it.
It’s almost like – and this might blow a few minds – it’s only sport and it’s not really that important. As for ‘nowadays’…what a load of bollocks. There have been 97 Ireland internationals who were born in England; Liverpudlian Dunn might recognise the names of John Aldridge, Mark Lawrenson and Jason McAteer among others.
Talking of the possibility of Barnes going Scottish, ex-Blackburn man Kevin Gallacher said the Newcastle player would be a ‘great addition’ to the squad … as though he would be some sort of transfer-window signing. Admittedly, it is quite a complex issue. It is certainly one with a lot of grey, very nuanced areas.
And that subtlety is obviously reflected in a headline of ‘England and Scotland saga shows FIFA rules are worthless – no one even tries to hide it’. Note the quote marks when even the curiously perturbed Dunn does not go that far.
Barnes’s colleague at St James’ Park, Elliot Anderson, might realign himself with England having played several age-group games for Scotland and been selected for the current senior squad (he withdrew with injury). But the pertinent question in the Anderson case is how did a lad from Whitley Bay, with English parents, end up playing for Scotland?
Because he had a Scottish grandparent and at 16, he probably thought that playing for Scotland would be quite nice, actually. It’s really not that complex.
In so many ways, the flexibility of qualification for international representation is fantastic. It allows sportsmen and women to represent their heritage, not just their immediate families and/or their birthplace.
It reflects a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. The idea that you should only be eligible to represent the country of your birth or of your parents’ birth is outdated and offensive.
Whoop whoop. Well done, Andy. It turns out that you can feel like you are two or more different nationalities. We have arrived with a bump back in 2023.
And you can feel the same allegiance to the place where your grandparents were born and bred just as you can feel to the place where your parents were born and bred. Declan Rice and Jack Grealish once did. Ask the Irish.
But there have to be stricter, clearer rules. Because deciding what nation you should represent should not come down to deciding which team you have a better chance of playing for or a better chance of winning with.
The rules are strict and really very clear; it’s not FIFA’s fault if people don’t understand them. And you clearly can’t just ‘decide what nation you should represent’, but if the rules allow for a switch, why it is it anybody’s business but the players’ and their international managers’?
Sorry Harvey, you can’t play at Euro 2024 for Scotland because a middle-aged Englishman doesn’t like it…
A message to you, Jadon
Gareth Southgate was obviously asked about Jadon Sancho in the England press conference on Monday. As Sancho has 23 caps for England, he cannot switch nationalities because it turns out that the rules really are quite strict.
And what do you think Southgate said of a player he has capped 23 times? Well he said exactly what you might expect…
“I think that’s the challenge for him now. It’s been the best part of a couple of years since we worked with him, it’s difficult to say exactly the position that he finds himself and where he is with it all.
“But for every player that’s not with us, there is always an opportunity if they can seize the form and have the (right) level of performances.”
Boring. Anodyne. Non-committal.
So of course…
‘Gareth Southgate sends message to Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho’ – Manchester Evening News.
Did he f***. He answered a question in the only possible way.
England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted that Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho can still force his way back into the national team set-up.
‘Admitted’? How on earth did they get that out of him? Imagine ‘admitting’ that the international career of a 23-year-old footballer with 23 caps might not be over.
But what’s a step-up from ‘admitting’? It’s ‘insisting’ of course.
Jadon Sancho DOES have an England future insists Gareth Southgate, but admitted the Manchester United renegade is in a ‘difficult’ situation after falling out with Erik ten Hag
With that length headline and the CAPITALS, it can only be MailOnline.
Gareth Southgate has told Jadon Sancho he can force his way back into the England set-up, but labelled the Manchester United winger’s situation as ‘difficult’.
He really, really didn’t. Look at those quotes again. “It’s difficult to say exactly the position that he finds himself and where he is with it all” is absolutely not the same as saying the situation is “difficult”.
Southgate is talking enough bollocks right now; there’s really no need to put any in his mouth.