The kids are alright
The narrative from The Sun’s Neil Ashton is clear: This is a young squad.
Look, there’s a headline saying ‘CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION’ underneath another that says ‘SOUTHGATE’S YOUTH OPPORTUNITY SCHEME’.
Have you got the gist yet, or do you need the sub-headline calling them ‘young ones’?
Then Ashton’s piece begins:
‘THE youth of today are ready to create a a bit of a stir.
‘Gareth Southgate, picking his final 23 for the World Cup in Russia. is relying on a group of players with an average age of just 26.
‘It is a bold and brave call for England’s head coach.’
Pesky fact: Roy Hodgson’s England squad was the youngest at Euro 2016 with an average age of 25.8. Was he ‘bold and brave’ too?
Oh and his 2014 World Cup squad had an average age of 26 too. We can’t remember him being described as ‘bold and brave’.
‘Trent Alexander-Arnold (19) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (22), plus the established figure of Marcus Rashford (20) will be wearing England shirts on the world stage this summer.
‘Southgate trusts them.’
We are pretty sure Hodgson trusted Jack Wilshere (22), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20), Phil Jones (22), Raheem Sterling (19), Ross Barkley (20) and Luke Shaw (18) in 2014 too. And that’s a list that is literally twice as long.
Still, what a breath of fresh air from the ‘bold and brave’ Southgate.
How odd that Ashton seems quite upbeat about England when just two months ago, he wrote in The Sun with his customary hyperbole that ‘these are desperate times and nobody seems to care’.
And what prompted this ‘withering assessment’? The call-ups for Alfie Mawson and James Tarkowski, of course. You may have spotted by now that neither of those players have actually made the England World Cup squad so it was – predictably – a massive fuss about absolutely nothing.
‘Sure, it must be a great day to be Alfie Mawson, or Nick Pope, or James Tarkowski after they were called into the squad for the first time.
‘Good for those boys, rewarded by Gareth Southgate for consistent seasons with Swansea City and Burnley and because, frankly, he has nobody else.
‘Those three have never played in the Champions League, one of the barometers for top European footballers in between international tournaments.’
Pesky fact: All but five – and three of those are goalkeepers – of England’s actual 23-man World Cup squad have played in the Champions League. Two of them are in this year’s final.
Sorry but we cannot leave it there. For Ashton did not leave it there in March, controversially pointing out that England had better players in 1998. Our older readers may remember that England did not win that World Cup, no matter how many ‘young and hungry’ players were in the squad. Oh and their average age was over 28, by the way. Glenn Hoddle was neither bold nor brave.
Ashton wrote, less than two months ago, remember…
‘That group, a pre-cursor to a golden generation of players who failed to go beyond the quarter-finals in 2002 and 2006, represented English football’s elite clubs. Manchester United supplied four players, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool three apiece, and Chelsea one.’
Well Tottenham finished 14th that season, but fine.
‘In the coming years, Leicester, Burnley, Stoke and Bournemouth will get used to sending away their English players during international years.’
Pesky fact: England’s actual World Cup squad also features four Manchester United players, as well as four from champions Manchester City, two from Champions League finalists Liverpool, five from Tottenham (who now are quite good) and another three from the remaining elite clubs. And nobody from Bournemouth.
It sounded like scaremongering guesswork at the time, and so it came to pass.
Bizarre name drop of the day
From Matt Lawton in the Daily Mail: ‘Young is older than Rooney but he gets his reward for being a good professional who, at nearly 33, is still delivering. Only recently I saw Young with two mates in a supermarket on a Saturday evening. They were buying sweets.’
On slightly different pages
Matt Lawton, Daily Mail, p86: ‘GARETH SOUTHGATE has been bold and he has been ruthless.’
Martin Samuel, Daily Mail, p87: ‘This was no maverick, left-field selection…these were 23 names picked with the coolest of logic.’
Know what I mean, Gary
Nice try, ESPN, in trying to erase all trace of Mark Ogden’s claim that Gary Cahill would not be named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
You did manage to insert a line saying that ‘Chelsea defender Gary Cahill is likely to be included in Southgate’s 23’ and you did almost rescue the opening paragraph…
‘Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere have all missed out on England’s World Cup squad, sources have told ESPN FC, as manager Gareth Southgate overhauls the team that will compete in Russia.’
…though the word you were looking for is ‘both’. It’s like it never happened.
But there was a little thing you forgot. Oh yes, that little detail known as the ‘headline’.
‘Joe Hart, Jack Wilshere, Gary Cahill dropped from England World Cup squad – sources’
Bloody hell think we had all 23 right this morning… World Cup bingo
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) May 16, 2018
Erm, no you didn’t fella. We are looking at Wednesday’s Daily Mirror and you have Adam Lallana in your ‘predicted squad’ and no Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Even when you changed it online, you still had Lallana in there and wrote:
‘Manchester United’s versatile wing back Ashley Young will be in the squad and looks favourite to start on the left.
‘But Young can also double up and play on the right which may mean that Kieran Trippier misses out with Trent Alexander-Arnold taking his place.’
So bloody hell, you didn’t have all 23 right. World Cup bingo indeed.
Let us not forget
When the squad has pretty much been leaked and yet you still need people to watch the announcement on Sky Sports News…
Where have Sky and the FA unearthed Leon Bailey's English passport from?pic.twitter.com/YvIRhr3yKB
— Ronan Murphy (@swearimnotpaul) May 16, 2018
Maybe next time pick somebody who is actually, you know, qualified to play for England.
Spot the difference
Fun fact: Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane met their partners at exactly the same age. Here's how the Daily Mail views their partners. pic.twitter.com/4y9g2OJKIt
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) May 16, 2018
A cheeky edit
Oh and don’t think we haven’t noticed – MailOnline – that Jack Butland’s partner is now being described as ‘THE GLAMOROUS AIR HOSTESS’ after presumably somebody decided that ‘THE OTHER WOMAN’ was a tad disrespectful. Because that was definitely the problem with that piece.
But if you are going to try to erase all trace of your original suggestion that the England goalkeeper and his girlfriend are not exactly a squeaky-clean dream couple, you really should have changed the caption on one of the pictures:
‘Butland was said to have ditched his childhood sweetheart Steph Powers in favours of secret trysts with Annabel, who used to work as cabin crew for Emirates.’
‘There’s brains and beauty; Davison has studied for a degree while supporting her boyfriend.’
Why would she bother her pretty little head?
Creepy, letchy lines of another day
After yesterday’s examination of The Sun Online’s coverage of Roberto Firmino kissing his wife on holiday comes its appearance in the actual newspaper and this line…
‘The Liverpool ace, 26, has been lapping up the sun in Ibiza with stunning wife Larissa Pereira, who clearly prefers to play with two up top.’
Translation: She has breasts.
‘DUMPED Joe Hart faces a fresh blow after his World Cup heartache – nobody wants to buy him’ – The Sun ‘exclusive’.
Fresh blow? We’re pretty sure nobody wanted him last week either.
Recommended reading of the day
Tom Nicholson picks the England players likely to shame us in Russia
Daniel Taylor on this England squad
Ed Malyon on the only 12/13 names that matter
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