Southgate and Clarke set for sack after ‘mind-bending’ decisions?

Editor F365
Steve Clarke and Gareth Southgate have been rotten at Euro 2024.
Steve Clarke and Gareth Southgate have been rotten at Euro 2024.

Perhaps the only man who would have approved of Steve Clarke’s Scotland approach was the England manager.

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Sack Southgate and sack Clarke
As a proud British man with an English mother and a Scottish father, I support both teams.

Having watched Scotland’s pitiful campaign end in the most fitting fashion last night – another catastrophic failure – there is only one conclusion to draw: Steve Clarke has to go.

Scotland have, by some distance, played the worst football we’ve seen all tournament from any team. Four attempts on target across more than 270 minutes of football is nothing short of a disgrace. However, when you consider that Clarke sets Scotland up with three centre halves, two full backs, two holding midfielders, and two other central midfielders for good measure, is it any wonder? I’d call it a 7-2-1 formation.

And while Scotland are not exactly blessed with world-beating talent, there was a host of attacking options who saw very little to no game time until that desperate finale last night. Players who can actually run with the ball, beat men, create, and put the team on the front foot. Clarke makes the pragmatism of a Moyes look like cavalier, kamikaze football, which might actually be why Scotland fans are now calling for Moyes to take his place; it’s that bad.

As for England, I’ve said for years they will win nothing with Southgate. Indeed, if there was one manager in world football who’d have approved of Steve Clarke’s approach, it surely has to be Southgate. He has botched everything this tournament, from the squad selection, to team selections, to tactics, to in-game management and substitutions, the lot. He’s gotten away with it in past tournaments, but not now.

The idea to leave out both Rashford and Grealish was mind-bending stuff; sure, both have had relatively poor seasons, but both are world class talents, big game players who are feared by opposing teams. And they both have fantastic tournament experience. I’m sorry, but Eze and Gordon as alternative options do not cut it; both are reasonable talents at Premier League level, but untested at this level, with zero tournament experience, who will in no way intimidate the opposition.

They are exactly the sort of players who should be bedded into a squad over time, not thrown in as the only options wide left at a major tournament; wide left too being an area where England have struggled severely in the first two games.

Added to that, Southgate trying to shoehorn Foden in by playing him left, but allowing him to come inside, means there is absolutely no width on that side of the park; exacerbated with a right-footed left fullback, the Southgate lovechild Trippier behind him. His excessive pragmatism means he refuses to play Rice as the sole holding midfielder, with Bellingham and Foden central ahead of him, and he puts on Bowen every time ahead of Palmer – because Bowen “does a job defensively”. Palmer is a match-winner, who must be highly disillusioned.

I expect England to win tomorrow night – we might even see a performance – and then go out to the Swiss.
What a time to be alive.
Iain Grant

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Scotland the Brave?
Commiserations, but great effort Scotland; a fun game with a suitable dash of misfortune on not being given a pretty nailed on penalty (Kane would definitely have won it, although he’d never have been there).

You did our shared island proud. England players, take note: that’s how you show some passion and drive, albeit a game so open it would make Gareth need sedatives for the rest of his life.
Badwolf (Now, can we borrow your manager? It’s ok, you don’t have to take Southgate in return)

READ: McTominay cannot channel Keane against Juventus, Moyes gaslights West Ham and Scotland fail again


No, Scotland the Sh*te
That was a difficult watch and it’s a deserved exit after a rotten tournament.

Unsure exactly what’s gone wrong. Injuries in key positions. Apparent fitness issues across the squad. Big players not quite at it. Negative tactics. Chastening opening game. Next to no positive momentum.

Whatever the reasons, it’s a pity that this is the Scotland that’s been on show. It’s hard to believe it’s more or less the same squad as a year ago. The confidence and quality that saw the team dismantle Denmark, Spain, Norway has gone completely.

It was a very bad game of football and I can only imagine what neutrals must have thought. Neither team really deserved to win. It was always going to come down to one or two big moments and Scotland certainly didn’t get the rub of things with the penalty shout. How that’s not even been checked by VAR… the mind boggles.

Sadly, our only two modes seemed to be mega cautious or chase-the-game-baws-oot-gung-ho. Why we couldn’t find *any* attacking rhythm within a solid structure from the start of games is for Clarke or whoever follows to answer.

It’s been great to qualify for two on the spin but it’s not much fun being the worst in show. Sport sure can disappoint.
Just a Sad, Sad Guy


…And so it goes. Even though I was 12 at the time, Euro 96 was when I began to like football. I wasn’t fully into it though, so I think I only watched the England match from Scotland’s group games. Then came the World Cup in 98 by which point I was an obsessive. Played 3 drew 1, lost 2. I had a long wait until Euro 2020. Played 3 drew 1, lost 2. And then we came to this year’s tournament. While I no longer have the same optimism of youth (I genuinely thought we could win the World Cup in 98) I was still hopeful we might qualify. Played 3, drew 1, lost 2. And on it goes.

I think the difference this time is that we were actually properly good in qualifying. We won 5 in a row. We beat Spain and Norway. And played well. Against Spain, we had more shots than they did. We comfortably put away the weaker teams. Which makes the recent form, which we brought into the tournament, such a disappointment.

Against Spain we had 9 shots and 3 on target. Before the 90th minute last night I think we had 1 shot and it was off target. Yes, we’ve had injuries, but we still had to do better. We are limited in quality and always will be, but there has to be a little more play on the front foot. World Cup qualification will be an extreme long shot (although if we play like we played in this qualification we’d have a chance). But with some home places guaranteed in 2028 it’s likely we’ll be there again.

Let’s hope that Ben Doak is the player people think he might be, and we get some more quality elsewhere, otherwise P3, D1, L2 has a fair chance of repeating itself.
Mike, LFC, Dubai


Southgate out
So frustrating…

He plays Allardyce football without the constant long defence mentality..

To let him have all these talented footballers is like tethering race horses to milk floats..

He is as bad as Graham Taylor and Mclaren.

The quicker they get rid the better.
George Davies


…The England issue is so easy to sort out, yet the FA doesn’t seem like they care about winning to having a good team around. Just ask yourself this question, currently in the world, how many better managers are out there compared to Southgate. I count at least 40-50 better managers who would do a better job with this team. So how is anyone expecting to win ANYTHING with England when they have a bottom tier manager with no record of success leading them. It’s laughable. Even Ole Or Ragnick would get more out of this team by a huge margin.


…It’s time to look for another manager after this year’s Euros.

Gareth Southgate has done a good job in his time as manager but it needs someone else to get the best out of these talented players and get the balance right, it’s not happening here and now.
Phil Lewis


Ancelotti for England!
​There’s been suggestions in the Mailbox of replacing Southgate mid-tournament. We can all agree that this isn’t a very realistic expectation however, it is a fun one.

If the FA were to surprise us all and pull the trigger, then let it be Carlo Ancelotti that swaggers into the England dressing room on a temporary contract. I have no real idea how he’d win it and but win it he would.

England, the Euro 2024 Champions, it’d be worth tolerating the subsequent 60 years of hype just to see Ancelotti mic drop at the final whistle and stroll back to Madrid, barely a word uttered.
Eoin (Don Carlo knows) Ireland


If the lack of entertainment is the issue, then I say give it Sherwood for the rest of the tournament.

It definitely won’t be boring.
Jeremy Aves


You have to feel for Trent
The way England set up makes Trent look woeful. Trent’s game is picking up the ball, one touch and pinging it into space where he knows Salah, Nunez & Diaz will be running into. England have no runners. None. Kane looks like he can’t run. Its not Foden’s game. Saka’s great at running at defenders but rarely runs in behind. Any other manager would solve this problem but England just do the same each game.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Paul – London Red


Are England playing rope-a-dope?
I’m on a lads drinking trip to Poland so when not drinking I’ve had a lot of time to lie around feeling sorry for myself and that naturally goes with thinking about this England Team. I’ve come up with a few theories that could explain some of the unusual ideas and performances recently.

1) World Cup 2016 and England ‘explode’ out of the gate. Harry Kane gets Golden Boot by scoring a lot of goals in the group stages. However, by the middle of the tournament he is clomping around like Boxer at the end of Animal Farm. Only one option for him, the glue factory.

Maybe Southgate actually is trying to save players energy on the assumption we will get out the group and we need the players to be fresh for the later stages. Those weird statements about using less energy are actually true and not weird excuses.

2) I’m not saying I’d like to have a beer with Cole Palmer and he definitely reminds of the lad, when I played 11 aside that we never left in the changing room on his own.

However, he can play football and has that natural arrogance that seems to translate well to international football. In 1958 the manager of Brazil didn’t play Pele until the the last group game so opposition teams had no idea of how good he is. Maybe Southgate is trying something similar. It doesn’t strike me that Southgate is in to Social Media and the like, so he might not of heard of YouTube…

3) World Cup 2016 had a central midfield of Alli and Lingard. Southgate is coming out and saying we have no replacement for Phillips and is playing a right back in central midfield. He has two very good but very young central midfielders in the squad. Similar to above he is trying to fool opposition in to underestimating our midfield and will spring a tactical rejig and bring in a midfielder that had never kicked a ball in a top league until this season.

4) Jude Bellingham was amazing in the first game. Clearly a fantastic player. We do not want everyone knowing this. Remember not everyone can afford Sky so won’t t have seen him ripping up La Liga or the Champions League this season. So, to fool everyone in to thinking Jude is a normal footballer, England actually played Jode Bellingham on against Denmark.

I’m starting to sober up and realizing all the above is pish and Southgate just probably isn’t very good.
Matt Essex


This is England
Dion, Ireland is right. Before Southgate came in we were shit. Getting knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage and out of the Euros in the round of 16 by Iceland. Then Southgate came in and we got to a World Cup semi-final and a Euros final and everyone said he was great and he got given an OBE. Now we are doing sh*t again and everyone says he’s rubbish and want him sacked. This was always going to the way. It’ll probably be the way with the next England manager.
Dan, London


Club over country
I said something in the pub on England’s opening night that had my fellow countryman in disbelief. It’s was an honest and fairly safe statement of fact, so I thought.

I’ll say it again… “I’d rather see United win the charity shield than England win the Euros”.

Now I’m not unpatriotic, I love my country and of course want to see England win. But, given the choice I’d rather see my club team win. I know the charity shield is a glorified friendly so I’ll extend my preference.. I’d rather see United win any league game regardless of the opponent.

I recognise there’ll be some people out there infected by a covid-like Euro fever and see this as almost blasphemous, but I can’t believe I’m alone in this.

Week in week out I’m programmed to dislike most of this team; Foden, Walker, Trent, Stones, Rice. I also have zero affinity for the likes of Pickford, Guehi and Trippier. Put them in a three lions shirt and am I supposed to be overcome by a blitz-like spirt and feel a kinship bond? Do me a favour.

England are offering me little else but filling the footballing void that the summer transfer window alone cannot satisfy.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’ve simply become numb to endless disappointment. Maybe be I’m a terrible fan and speak for nobody but my red-tinted self. Or, maybe I’m right. Maybe my bravery will be commended and endorsed by the mailbox collective.

Tell me if I’m wrong and I’ll take a moment to reflect, I may even sit on it until the eagerly anticipated September international break.
Paul, Manchester


Is that you, Alan Hudson?
The last mailbox had a letter which it claimed was from ex pro Alan Hudson. I hope it was as there are very few people more qualified to comment on the current England team and management.

Even though I support Liverpool I’ve always been a lover/admirer of other team’s quality players and Hudson was certainly one of those. His England debut against the then World Champions, West Germany, was one of the best ever seen, if memory serves, he completed a 100% of his passes. He was loved by both Chelsea and Stoke fans alike. Unfortunately, like a lot of gifted players of that era, his lifestyle had a big impact!

He is exactly the type of player this England team (and for the whole of Southsh*tes tenure) is crying out for, someone who looks to control the pace of the game, gets his team on the front foot and retain possession, in other words, he wouldn’t get a look in.

On a lighter note, if travelling home from a game in or south of the midlands, we would usually stop off somewhere around Stoke, however on this occasion it was a Sunday and the pubs were not yet open.

We were driving around and spotted a Rolls Royce park up and several well dressed individuals get out, we thought that if anyone would know where to get an out of hours drink, these guys would. They knocked on a door and we quickly joined the small queue, the guy who opened the door clearly thought we were all together and we entered.

A couple of drinks later we were talking to our new friends and it turns out the club is owned by Stoke’s star man, Alan Hudson! Shortly after, he entered and whilst our engagement was very brief, he said (and made sure that the barman/manager was aware), that we would always be welcome. We never stopped off anywhere else again and spent many a happy hour in Alan’s fine establishment.

If that was you Alan, let me thank you now as I never got the chance.
Howard Jones