Southgate told to take Phil Foden ‘excuse’ away as Souness says England stars must ‘b****y lead’

Will Ford
Souness Foden England
Graeme Souness has told Southgate to remove Phil Foden's England 'excuse'.

Graeme Souness has told England’s so-called leaders to “b****y lead” and sort failing that “isn’t rocket science”, and urged Gareth Southgate to take Phil Foden’s “excuse” away.

England are top of Group C having beaten Serbia and drawn with Denmark, but neither display was particularly convincing from one of the pre-tournament favourites and the game against the Danes in particular was met with derision from the majority of pundits and Three Lions fans, with many calling for the manager’s head.

Remove Foden’s ‘excuse’

Both Phil Foden and Trent Alexander-Arnold were taken off in the second half against Denmark, and while Gary Neville reckons both will sit out the final group clash against Slovenia, Souness has urged Southgate to use Alexander-Arnold as an impact subsitute but keep Foden in the starting lineup, but remove his “excuse” for his poor showings.

Souness said in his Daily Mail column: ‘I find it strange that Gareth Southgate talks about the problem in replacing Kalvin Phillips, well Kalvin Phillips is yet to prove he is a Premier League player. I didn’t like the term ‘experiment’ around Trent Alexander-Arnold. It’s unfair on him.

‘Playing wide as a full-back, to me, is the easiest position on the pitch because you have more time and space. In midfield it is a whirlwind. The action is coming at you from all angles, it’s often frantic and you have a nano-second to make a decision – and half the time you won’t get that right.

‘You have to be a bit of everything: have a defensive head, be creative and be able to mix the physical side too.

‘Trent is a wonderful kicker of the ball, he can deliver it on a sixpence. At Liverpool, they dominate sides so there is space, but to task him to play this role when England are trying to establish dominance is a hell of an ask. He doesn’t possess that equipment. In this England set-up, I see Trent Alexander-Arnold best suited to an impact substitute role when you are chasing a game and you need his delivery and accuracy of passing.

‘England should revert Jude Bellingham back alongside Declan Rice, put Phil Foden behind Kane and put either Eberechi Eze or Anthony Gordon on the left.

‘When you’re a manager, you have to take the excuses away from players. Foden wants to play in the middle, so play him there. He certainly looked capable of creating chances when he ventured into the middle against Denmark and on one occasion smacked the post with a fierce shot – and Kane wants someone closer to him.’

👉 Gareth Southgate embarrassed by ChatGPT as England ‘conserve energy’ ahead of ‘secret weapon’
👉 Euro 2024 Power Rankings: England slump as low as they can, Poland seal 24th spot
👉 Five Southgate ‘experiments’ that make more sense for England vs Slovenia than Alexander-Arnold

‘Pressing isn’t rocket science’

Souness also insists ‘pressing isn’t rocket sciene’ and urged the experienced England stars to stand up and be counted.

‘England’s players need to take a good, hard look in the mirror today and ask themselves what more can I do?

‘A non-functioning midfield is an issue for any team but there’s more to it than just that.

‘Harry Kane says they are unsure about their pressing roles. Big players don’t need a manager to sort that out. Pressing isn’t rocket science. You talk to each other on the pitch and work it out.

‘They are supposed to have leadership groups – well b****y lead then!’