‘Trent is Beckham without the PR’ and other Euro 2024 views

Editor F365
Trent Alexander-Arnold and David Beckham
Trent Alexander-Arnold and David Beckham

Trent Alexander-Arnold continues to dominate the discourse, but does he need a 4-4-2 to thrive?

Send your thoughts on all things England and Euro 2024 to theeditor@football365.com


Trent needs a 4-4-2 to thrive
Trent is Beckham without the PR and unfortunately for him, without the orthodox 442 of days gone by.

A right midfield berth in a 442 would be the perfect role for Trent, but alas it’s 2024 and the 442 is no more, and sadly for Trent the same should be said for his England starting position.

No managers really ever trusted Beckham in that central midfield role and the same should go for Trent, once we get up against serious opposition he will be very exposed.

Bellingham should be playing centre mid (8) and Foden 10 with Eze on the left. This would give us the control that we lacked against Serbia.
Mark (Liverpool fan)

READ: ‘Lost on the pitch’, ‘one good ball’, ‘didn’t work’ – 10 pundit takes on Trent Alexander-Arnold


Why do we want a midfield full of defensive players anyway?
Honestly the nice things people have said has been genuinely touching. I’m extremely hurt to the point which a word doesn’t exist to describe it, which is why I spend 20 minutes writing these letters because it’s 20 minutes not spent feeling that pain.

I did not say Trent is as good as or better than either Pirlo or Xabi but since comparing attributes of things is beyond the mailbox apparently I’ll try it a different way.

What do you want your midfield to do? Based on the mailbox it seems like everyone wants a midfield whose only abilities are defending. If you’re thinking of box to box midfielders don’t, they don’t exist anymore. Gerrard was probably the last of those. Now they’re either attacking or defensive and England for sure does not have a box to box and it definitely doesn’t have three.

So you want one who can defend? Well you’ll sacrifice attacking fluidity, not to mention teams which see a defensive line up will immediately assume England are scared – because they are.

Wanna know why England don’t score? They’re too scared about conceding to worry about scoring. They’re too defensively minded to commit men forward because what happens if there’s a counter? How do we repel the unrelenting forces of giants like….Serbia…

That’s why they don’t score as much as they should. Play to your strengths is a better approach than hide your weaknesses. You have shit defenders and a shaky keeper. No way around it. But you arguably have the best attacking options in the whole tournament. So why hinder them? Something I really admire about Brasil and it’s attitude to football is that they used to play with freedom. They won or lost with pride and left everything on the pitch. I’d argue Spain and Germany play that way now.

So if you’re worried about Serbia giving you a pasting and want to play TWO defensive midfielders then don’t expect to win anything.

If you wanna win, look at what you’ve got and get the best out of it. It means moving the ball quickly, it means giving that sheer wealth of attackers options and space. You can argue that might mean Trent isn’t the best option.. but you can’t argue England are weak because Trent can’t defend. England are weak because they’re asking players to do things they’re not good at while ignoring what they are good at.

Let Foden and Saka roam and swap like Mane and Salah used to. Let Kane drop deeper and allow Foden and Saka to tuck in like Messi did for Barca. Let stones step forward into midfield or even attack like beckenbauer did. If you don’t support that then just pick 20 ultra defensive hard working players who won’t concede and will snap into every tackle…just don’t expect to win anything because despite what people think hard work alone doesn’t win anything, it has to come with guile and finesse. England has that, its just being shackled by fear of conceding.

Thanks again everyone, it has been comforting seeing those messages and has afforded a few minutes away from anguish.

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What’s Keane’s beef?
Roy Keane was an outstanding footballer. Out of this world in midfield. Also considering that he is Irish, he was exceptional.

Now, understanding the animosity between the Liverpool and Man.Utd fans and (especially former) players, he seems to be taking things too far. Overtaking Gary Neville and Paul Scholes by miles. The inclusion of Trent Alexander-Arnold in the England seems to have given him the opportunity to show the world how much hatred he holds for Liverpool, and anything related to them. Can’t he tell us about his Irish national team players now? We’ve heard enough of Trent now, and how much he will be shredded at the EUROs.
Themba, Durban


Saka at left-back? Surely not
Am I just reading too much into a few minority opinions or is there an increasing clamour for Southgate to play Bukayo Saka at left back / wing back? Can I just say what a horrible idea I think that is. Lots of right-minded people talk about the idea of square pegs in in square holes and in international football; I totally agree.

I can just about live with the idea of Trent in midfield. It wouldn’t be my choice, but he has at least played there. A bit. Relatively well. And the alternatives are an enthusiastic but technically limited Chelsea midfielder who seems to me like the thinking man’s Jimmy Bullard (even I’m not sure if that’s a compliment) or a Manyoo midfielder with about five minutes’ football under his belt.

But Saka at left back just seems bonkers and based around nothing more than a very Sunday-league philosophy that anyone left footed needs to be shunted out to left back or left midfield. I remember Saka making his England senior debut shortly after his breakthough with the Gooners. I hadn’t been watching much footy in the preceding season, so had almost no idea who this guy was. Southgate started him at left wing-back in a friendly against Wales, in a formation that I will generously describe as “experimental”. Take your pick of Connor Coady, Michael Keane, Harry Winks and Danny Ings which member of that starting XI most starkly puts the “mental” in “experimental”.

Though he had played in a similar position for the Arse on some occasions, Saka was awful in that game (to my eyes) and I was convinced that he would never make it at international level. I’m a harsh judge! Rarely have I been so happy to be proved wrong. It pains me to say it, given club allegiances, but he is a magnificent forward and the player – other than Bellingham – around whom I’d build this England side. He had his fullback for breakfast in the first half on Sunday. And anyone who thinks we should shuffle things around to accommodate Phil Foden drifting vaguely around the pitch desperately searching for Kevin de Bruyne to do something to make him look good, has evidently seen something in the young Citeh player that I never have – at least never in an England shirt.

“Saka isn’t full fit” is something I’ve also heard… If so, give him an hour in his best position and then swap things around if he runs out of steam. Definitely DON’T put him in one of the most stamina-sapping positions on the pitch, bombing up and down the flank.

Trippier is a limited but effective solution until Shaw returns to fitness. I’d even be okay with Gomez played slightly out of his most natural position. But don’t neuter one of our most attacking threats in order to badly plug a perceived weakness.
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames


Saka will be the scapegoat
Based on previous examples of scapegoats by the English media and fans how you didn’t give at number two; Bukayo Saka. Villian for missing a pen last time around, the face of the Iceland failure just before these Euros (that 20 minutes must have been very bad), not being Cole Palmer and lastly for being black because let’s face it the English are still very, very racist and the English media even more so.
Brendan (Australia and yes we are as racist, maybe even more so than the English)


At least one impressive win would be nice
Dan, London, nobody expects England (or any other team for that matter) to batter everyone else on their way to victory. But in the group stages at least, I reckon most eventual winners will set down a marker with impressive performances against significantly weaker teams.

This achieves a couple of things. One, it’s an early signal to everyone that the team means business. Two, it builds early momentum to bring into the knockout stages where things start to heat up and the going gets tougher.

At the last Euros, Italy knocked out 3-0 wins in their group against Turkey and Switzerland, securing progress early and helping them prepare for the grind later on. Likewise, at the World Cup, Argentina recovered from their early shock against Saudi Arabia to record comfortable victories against Mexico and Poland in their group.

There are exceptions of course (like Portugal in 2016 who drew their way to victory) but those are generally against the norm. Most tournament winners have at least a couple of impressive wins under their belt before lifting the trophy.


England have a team of world-beaters? Do they?
Lots of the usual chat about the expectation gap of some England fans and reality. One commenter saying we have a team of world beaters. Well, they were half right I suppose.

Stones, Walker and Foden have won 115 PLs and the world club cup. Trent and Gomez have three CL final appearances included a win followed up with the world club cup win. Odds on for Bellingham to follow suit next year after his CL win. So actual world beaters.

It’s starts to run out after that.

Rice and Bowen have won the new third rate European plate. Not world beaters but its a win from the cauldron of European knock out competition.

Outside of playing for Southgate, Saka has won one CL knock out tie on penalties, Kane has got to a CL final and semi-final.

Then the squad is topped up by middling Premier League teams Everton, Palace and Newcastle, a poor Chelsea, and even a Man United player. So not quite world beaters. And certainly not ahead of France, Spain, Germany or Portugal.

There seems to be a lot of Premier League teams represented in this England squad. A top ten feature for f365? Most teams represented in an England squad.

Oh and we’ve seen what a middling premier league team looks like under Ancelotti. It still looks like a middling premier league team.

A middling premier league team under Klopp however…

As for TAA in midfield, the lad has magic in him that Gallagher doesn’t. He seemed to play up quite high close to Saka sometimes meaning Walker didn’t need to over commit. Saka played well and Walker created a good chance thanks to a TAA interception. Of course I’d rather have Gerrard or Scholes in there, or at a push Lampard, but maybe Trent played his part.

Looking forward to Thursday. Should be an open game as Denmark need to win. Their best player is a Man United bench warmer with a pace maker. Hope that doesn’t come back to bite me!
Alex, South London


Two (no, three) thoughts on Euro 2024
To be fair, I only really have two thoughts on the tournament so far, so don’t get excited.

1) I’m not a fan of the head-to-head rule deciding points ties instead of goal difference. But maybe I’m just raised by the Premier League to do things this way (I think La Liga does head-to-head, but I may be wrong. I barely have time to watch my own team, let alone a completely different league). Maybe I’m just old-fashioned? Can’t see how it’s a good idea, would like to hear what others think.

2) I actually like the 24 team format. I know it’s ugly, arbitrary, and also just weird, but it brings two things to the tournament that I like: i) more games, and ii) nobody is truly knocked out until after the third game of the group. Two losses is not automatically the end anymore, and it keeps the interest up.

Ok, perhaps a third thought: I love being able to watch three games every day and not having to justify it!
Phil, Manchester

PS – Enjoyed Dave Tickner’s article on Danny Murphy, that man knows his shit 🙂


More on Murphy
Watching the Portugal v Czechia game and I have to say that the Robyn Cowan/Danny Murphy combination is like nails on a blackboard. They are truly awful.

Is there a worse commentary team? I think not.
Bladey Mick (oh my poor ears……)


…I think you guys did a piece a while ago on who does the best co-comms, but I’m too lazy to Google it. But one of the most pointless has to be Danny Murphy.

He adds nothing above what the average person in the pub could contribute. I’ve never played football professionally and I’ve never been on TV, but I’m pretty sure that if literally everyone else fell sick on the day, they could call me up at short notice and I could do about as well as this guy.

Who else is grinding the mailbox’s gears?
Phil, Manchester


…Ended up causally watching the Portugal match this evening on BBC (I’m Irish so have on RTE usually).

Despite it pretty much being end to end with horrible defending, my main take away was that the male commentator was truly awful. Like horrific. No personality and didn’t seem to want to be there?

Just read an article and heard it was Danny Murphy. Really don’t know how he has a job.


Flag porn
In response to Ozzy’s email about flag clashes, you’re forgetting the other game in England’s group: Slovenia and Serbia’s flags are just upside down versions of each other.
Matt (forever yearning for Ireland vs Ivory Coast and Romania vs Chad), AFC


Scotland the Brave
Well that was better. After the Germany game I was fully expecting our Euros dream to be wiped out after 2 games, but last night was so much better. A deserved draw against a good Swiss side. We could even have won it (although so could the Swiss).

At the start of the tournament, the most realistic path out of the group was a point against the Swiss and a win against Hungary. So very happy to be going into the last game with that still a possibility. Not an easy match by any means. Hungary are probably slight favourites but if we play in a similar way to last night then we have a chance.

Shout out to the Scotland fans (and the Swiss fans) as well, who were absolutely magnificent. It’s typically the smaller nations who bring the atmosphere as they encourage their team (even if they’ve been gubbed 5-1), instead of moaning about winning 1-0. Hungary should still have a chance to progress to the last 16, so the atmosphere for that game will be electric.

3 years ago we had a disappointing opening game, a creditable draw against a higher ranked opposition and then lost the final match. We’ve repeated 1 and 2, let’s hope we don’t repeat number 3. Either way, at least we have a bit of pride back (and nice to move off the bottom of the F365 rankings).
Mike, LFC, Dubai


The Mailbox family
To Lee, my deepest sympathies and condolences for the loss of your dear child at such a young age.

I’m a daily reader of the mailbox and it’s carried me on some days since I lost my mother in January.

I just want to say, I understand the need for an escape. I fully relate to finding the comfort in strangers talking absolute shite and I commend the straight out honesty that you’ve shown in such a vulnerable state.

For me, personally, I have got through some awful days, simply due to the mere presence of Stewie Griffin.

The faceless provocateur with opinions that seem to rile all before them.

Now, I won’t go off track. I simply want to say, I hope we continue to see you post and comment in the future.

The rough days become easier and the good memories overtake the bad eventually.

The F365 family will stand with you, despite the internal feuds that exist within.

Reach out anytime brother.