Southgate hailed for treatment of England star who thought his ‘tournament was finished’

Will Ford
England boss Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate has had plenty of criticism at Euro 2024.

Gareth Southgate has been lauded for his treatment of Trent Alexander-Arnold after the Liverpool star scored the decisive penalty in the shootout for England on Saturday to secure quarter-final victory over Switzerland.

Bukayo Saka scored a fine goal to equalise for England after Breel Embolo gave the Swiss the lead, and the Arsenal winger was one of five successful penalty takers for England as Jordan Pickford saved Manuel Akanji’s effort.

Alexander-Arnold took the fifth and confidently smashed his spot-kick into the top corner having only replaced Phil Foden in the second half of extra time.

It’s been difficult tournament for Alexander-Arnold after he started the opening two games in midfield before Southgate admitted to that failed experiment.

Many expected the Liverpool man to start against Switzerland as Southgate switched to five at the back but he was left out again.

Kudos to Southgate

Had Alexander-Arnold missed Southgate would undoubtedly have been criticised for introducing him so late, but he didn’t and that’s led Didi Hamann to praise the England boss.

“Most of (our criticism of Gareth Southgate) was justified, but at the same time I’ve got to say he’s played him (Alexander-Arnold) at the start of the tournament, he took him off then he started with Gallagher,” he said while working as a pundit for RTE.

“Now to bring him on in the quarter finals when he hasn’t played any part in the last one or two games, to bring him on with three minutes to go, and obviously he told him when he did go on ‘you’re gonna take the last penalty’ so that means he’s taken him out, but at the same time he still trusts him to take that last penalty.

“You need a gut feeling as a manager and obviously he had the feeling that Trent is the man to do that because it wasn’t an easy situation for him – started the tournament as a central midfielder, come off, hardly played, today trippier plays ahead of him at wingback which is a role tailormade for him so he probably thought at the start of the game today ‘my tournament is finished’. So credit to Southgate and to Alexander-Arnold.”

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‘I enjoy it’

Speaking after the game, Alexander-Arnold said he felt confident when Southgate told him he would be taking a penalty.

“It is what we have practiced,” he said. “When the gaffer said I was taking one, I enjoy it and I practice it – I knew I had to just execute it. All five penalties from us were great.

“We knew it was going to be tight. Whatever it takes and no matter what we win – that is all that matters to us.”