Drop Trent? But he is England’s Pirlo or Xabi Alonso…

Editor F365
Trent Alexander-Arnold, ANdrea Pirlo and Xabi Alonso.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, ANdrea Pirlo and Xabi Alonso.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is compared to Andrea Pirlo and Xabi Alonso. There are also views on England’s square peg problem.

Send your views on all subjects to theeditor@football365.com


Maybe Trent is England’s Pirlo or Alonso
Firstly I’d just like to say thanks to the people who left nice comments, including the ed regarding my last message. I read them, and appreciated them.

I want to talk (so I’m not thinking) about Trent. I see a lot of people saying he has no place because he couldn’t defend. Which isn’t entirely true, he ranks quite high in interceptions and is pretty decent at recovering, those are statistical facts. But his positioning is suspect and one on one he’s not great.

I came name quite a few other players whose skillset was very specific and I’ll use two as comparisons for SKILLSET not ability. Don’t get twisted. Both Pirlo and Xabi Alonso had similar skillsets, neither could mark, or tackle were easy to dribble past but both were good on interceptions. Trent has at least one leg up on both of those since he has better stamina and speed in his legs than both. That’s not me saying Trent is better. He’s not.

But both those players also share the same strengths as Trent – passing range and ability to read play. If you look at the teams those players played in you’ll see they didn’t need to defend, they had someone who swept up and then gave the ball to them to find a teammate in the final third.

For Pirlo he had Gattuso, for Xabi he had Mascherano. That’s why nobody ever complained about their weak defensive capabilities, someone else had that job.

England are lucky because Rice isn’t just a rabid dog like Masch and Gattuso were. He also has more strings to his bow. But he can very ably mop up at the back and hand off to Trent who can spot that run that Kane or Foden is making and deliver a pass. Quite why any supposed big team needs TWO defensive midfielders is beyond me anyway. Are you that scared of everyone?

Get Rice to do the defensive job in midfield of chasing the ball and putting in the tackles, let Trent make interceptions and block passing lanes and fire those passes forward. That’s exactly how Spain, Milan, Italy and Liverpool got the best of Xabi and Pirlo. It’s exactly how England can get the best out of Trent. Because like it or not there is no other player in the England team with his passing range and moving the ball quickly from back to front accurately is a very big asset.

Thanks again.


Why do we want square pegs in round holes though?
We – England fans – never learn, do we ?

We want our manager to put out an XI of our best players regardless of whether they are in the right position or not. Or even fully fit. We demand it. We force the issue.

One recent mailbox post talked about how we used to have an amazing midfield of Scholes, Gerrard and Lampard. Like it was a good thing. Nonsense.

This country produces batches of exactly the same type of player. Instead of finding the right players to compliment them….we just stick them all in the same team and expect it to work.

When will we learn ?

We played three right backs against Serbia. Walker, Trippier, Trent.

A right back in midfield, a midfielder on the wing…..and a striker who was so deep he almost was in midfield.

This isn’t Southgate’s fault. It’s us. We made him do it. We are the clamour and we need to shut the **** up sometimes.

We need to stop pressuring Southgate into who to pick, based on the clips of MOTD that have made us all armchair experts.

The clamour is for Cole Palmer now. We have two of the best number tens in world football on the pitch already….so why not shoehorn a third in ? (I’m being sarcastic here). Foden is also our second best right sided forward, and we should pick him there because Saka…..isn’t fit. Visibly.

Imagine we tried putting square pegs in square holes. Permanently.

Bellingham is our best attacking centre mid. When he gets tired/injured etc….bring on our second best. Foden. If he gets injured – then Palmer. Square pegs.

If Kane is too tactically indisciplined (or secretly injured) to actually lead the line – then we need to get the next best forward on the pitch. To lead the line. Not to be described afterwards as “having won a few free kicks” – as if that means anything.

But we won’t allow that, will we? Kane’s multiple England goals have made him essentially undroppable – despite the fact that he clearly wasn’t the man for the job against Serbia. He was lumbering around like Andy Carroll on the day. I’m a West Ham fan – I know what a half fit, lumbering forward looks and plays like.

If you’re not fit – you don’t start. Kane isn’t fit. Saka isn’t fit. Stones looks iffy.

We scraped it against Serbia because we played three players out of position, and played two more players who weren’t fit. Serbia took half an hour to work that out, and Denmark are now pre-warned. So let’s surprise the mighty Denmark with an XI of fit players playing in their best position, regardless of star power, appearances for big teams or anything else.

The square peg starting XI for Serbia would have been:

Gordon Watkins Foden

Bellingham Rice Mainoo

Gomez Guehi Stones Walker


Weaker teams than the above have won the Euros before. I suggest we quieten down the misplaced clamour…..or just demand he fricken square peg it instead.
Tom E13

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Stop with the England caterwauling
The caterwauling over England’s scrappy and hard fought victory over Serbia in their opening game of Euro 2024 is coming from people who just do not understand international football.

No team who goes far in or indeed who wins a major tournament batters every team they play four or five nothing and that includes not against the so called lesser teams at the tournament.

Back in 1998 when host nation France won the World Cup they needed extra time and a golden goal to beat Paraguay in the round of 16, they needed penalties to beat Italy in the quarter-finals and they had to come from a goal down against Croatia to win the semi-final. Yes, they brushed aside Brazil 3-0 in the final but that was largely down to the Brazilians being in meltdown over the “will he won’t he play?” situation with Ronaldo who was utterly anonymous (mitigating circumstances remembered) on the night.

Even Germany at the World Cup in 2014 for all their 7-1 thrashing of hosts Brazil in the semi-finals needed extra time to beat Algeria in the round of 16 and their final with Argentina went to extra time too.

At the last Euros winners Italy needed extra time to beat Austria in the second round and needed penalties to beat both Spain and England in the semi-finals and the final. Italy certainly are not a team who win major tournaments by thrashing every team they face four or five nil and their success has been founded on grinding out results against lesser opposition and by squeezing better teams and stopping them playing their game. Remember how Italy beat Belgium in the quarter-finals of the last Euros.

I do not know why so many of our fans and the media think that we need to be battering teams like Serbia by a hatful of goals to get far or win this European Championship tournament. And grinding out results against the better opposition will probably have to happen if we are to win this tournament. If we are to beat teams like France in the semi-finals we’ll probably have to do it by ending our penalty shoot-out hoodoo which apart from Spain at Euro 96 and Colombia at the 2018 World Cup has haunted us for 34 years.

If England are to end 58 years of hurt it will happen by grinding out results and maybe with a bit of luck. It won’t come by thrashing every team we play. The belief that it will or that it should comes from an arrogant belief by some of our fans that we have a god given right to do so.
Dan, London


No Dave, the Germans aren’t arrogant
I agree with most of your mail except… „but as a football culture we’re not so different to France, Germany, Spain, Brazil etc.“ Are you speaking from the experience of living in any of the aforementioned countries or is that just wishful thinking on your part?

As someone who has lived in Germany for over 13 years now I can safely say that Germany does not expect to win every game of every tournament. Most people I know here were worried that Kroos coming back would make the team too dependent on him, everything would flow through him and hence make the team too predictable and slow, they are also very worried that they haven’t had a world class striker since…. Most of them would say Klinsmann.

They were worried that the opening game would be too much for the team and nerves would set in. They were ecstatic after the trouncing of the Scots but it was not expected! Now most of them are worried about a poor second performance. They even listed off examples of Germany producing poor performances in second games of tournaments past….

Yes there is an expectation that they will get out of their group but no one here is building the team, or any player for that matter, up to superhuman levels. Expectations are roughly where they should be I would say. Most would say semi-finals, to reach the final would be great and I haven‘t heard anyone say they should win it. It’s all very pragmatic here.

I don’t hate the English national team, I support a team in the Premier League, I know all the players and compared to times gone by (John Terry’s era and before) I quite like the players. For me it is mostly the media coverage that pushes me over the edge into not wanting to see them win the tournamnet. Thankfully, as I said, I live in Germany now and am insulated somewhat from that media circus but a read through mediawatch reminds me that it still exists and I do fucking hate it.

Also John Terry was a goblin of a man!
Gar, Plauen, Sachsen (formerly Dublin)


Oh and Dave…
​So Dave in Manchester ‘did really like the yellow card for Mbappe though when he purposely stopped the game to allow Deschamps to make subs’.

Mbappe just had his nose severely broken, blood gushing down all over himself, was clearly distressed and in pain after suffering this head injury (the nose is on everyone’s heads right?). But Dave doesn’t think the ref was woefully oblivious to this and at fault for NOT stopping the game? My God…

Right, OK Dave. You take care now.


Crazy flag times
For the flag aficionados and graphics minions who have to create the flag mashups for the pundits to sit in front of, we have some interesting clashes coming up.

Denmark v England – flags are almost inverses of each other

Poland v Austria – Both Red and White horizontal stripes

France v Netherlands – 90-degree rotation of one flag to the other

Romania v Belgium – Same flag for our blue/black colour blind viewers
Ozzy, AFC DC


So Malky thinks Italy were on the ropes after we scored in the Euro 2020 final, and that “instead of substituting then (to include Grealish) and continue the attacking approach, the manager bottled it”.

It may be true, but pity the poor sod who would have been subbed off after 1 minute 56 seconds of play…
Uncle Albert (Probably still makes more sense than Arteta’s plan to substitute off a fully fit goalkeeper for tactical reasons)


Let’s all (not) chant
Experience suggests that the opinions on offensive chanting in football can easily be transposed to another debate I end up regularly involved in, about names of beers and images used to advertise them: on one side you have people who want anything remotely discriminatory done away with completely, and on the other you have those who think any restriction is pandering to woke nonsense, political correctness or whatever phrase they’re using these days. Those of us in the middle just want people to calm the eff down.

In both cases, my position is the same: if it’s absolutely necessary to chant about killing Germans, or players dying in a plane crash, or supporters being crushed to death, or people being poor, or anything else you might think of, how come there are so many terrace songs and chants that manage to be clever, witty and enjoyable to sing without being in the slightest bit offensive?
Ed Quoththeraven

It was an emotional Mailbox
Not one, but two letters in the Mailbox almost moved me to tears this morning.

Firstly, Lee, all the love in the world to you as you deal with such an unimaginable loss. And for what it’s worth, I agree with you. England ‘s footballers may have some self-belief as individuals (they must have to make it to the top of such a tough profession), but put them together as a team in England shirts and it all ebbs away. I don’t know how you change that, other than winning a tournament which you won’t if you don’t believe you can, but if we can find a manager who can address that, hire them.

Secondly, Peter Stone, thank you for the perspective on one of the England fans’ favourite songs. I may not agree with your view on the song itself, but I totally endorse your comments regarding The Few and indeed all those whose wartime efforts secured peace in 1945. It would do the England team no harm at all to look into the faces of some of the remaining veterans and think long and hard about what it means to represent a country that inspired such duty and devotion.
Carolyn, (somewhat emotional) South London Gooner


More for Lee…
Lee, that one, hold on just a moment. You cannot just drop a bomb on readers like that and just move on and speak about football and England. After what you just wrote, the football does not matter, at all.

My sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathy goes out to you and your family. What a tragedy. I wish you and your family strength and prayers.
Wayne (JHB, South Africa)


…Lee, you write whatever you need to write mate. I hope you have the people around you. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Dads need support too.

Wishing you well.
Alex, South London