Gareth Southgate slammed for ‘really strange decision’ to drag off Arsenal star in England loss to France

Lewis Oldham
Southgate slammed by pundit

Gareth Southgate has been criticised for taking off Arsenal star Bukayo Saka during England’s 2-1 loss to France in the World Cup quarter-finals.

The Three Lions were beaten by France on Saturday and Southgate’s team have now headed home.

England actually performed pretty well against the 2018 World Cup winners and were unlucky to lose.

Aurelien Tchouameni and Olivier Giroud netted either side of Harry Kane’s goal from the penalty spot as Les Bleus ran out 2-1 winners.

Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford both came agonisingly close to scoring and Kane fired the ball way over the bar with England’s second penalty of the game.

Saka was one of England’s better performers on the night as he consistently got the better of France left-back Theo Hernandez.

The Arsenal man won England’s first penalty as he was brought down in the area by Tchouameni.

The talented winger was England’s joint-top scorer in Qatar with his three goals but he was brought off by Southgate shortly after France’s second goal in the 78th minute.

Ex-Premier League midfielder Jamie Redknapp has suggested that Hernandez “couldn’t handle” Saka.

Redknapp found it a “really strange decision” from Southgate to take Saka off late on.

“[Hernandez] couldn’t handle Saka. Just couldn’t handle him. He was too much for Hernandez all game. And I must admit, looking at it now, I couldn’t believe Gareth took him off,” Redknapp said (via The Daily Mail).

“Because even if we’d have got a goal and we’d gone to extra time, he was the player that every time – he was the player that when we got the ball to him, he got me on the edge of my seat.

“I found that a really strange decision. Obviously you have to make substitutions to try and effect the game, but he was certainly one I would have kept on.

“And I bet when Hernandez saw him go off, he breathed a huge sigh of relief. Because we sort of lost our way a little bit after that – yes, we had the (Marcus) Rashford free-kick which sailed over the bar, but that was a really strange substitution.”

Speaking after the loss to France, Southgate refused to confirm whether he intends to carry on as England boss.

“I think whenever I finish these tournaments, I’ve needed time to make correct decisions,” Southgate said.

“Emotionally you go through so many different feelings. The energy it takes through these tournaments is enormous.

“I want to make the right decision, whatever that is for the team, for England, for the FA. I’ve got to be sure whatever decision I make is the right one.”

READ MORE: Ranking all 26 England squad members by their contribution to World Cup quarter-final HEARTBREAK