ONE of the big talking points before the Euros was whether Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate would be bold and play Phil Foden.
But now he’s got to be even bolder and let him off the leash – because if you’re going to stick him on the right wing, you might as well not pick him at all.
We all know what Foden can do, we’ve seen how dangerous he is, but in both England games now he has been completely wasted out wide.
Gareth is never going to be a manager whose team plays a flamboyant style, we’re never going to see open, attacking football from them.
My nature is to have a go, but I think he’s always going to be more interested in making us hard to beat.
It’s one of the reasons why – as much as I want to see Jack Grealish in there – I don’t believe he’s going to start him. I’ve said that all along.
Fair enough, he’s the manager and it’s his call. But if you’re not going to pick Jack, then Foden has got to be the one who makes things happen.
And he’s never going to do that if he’s spending his time out wide. They have to get him on the ball, get him in the pocket, and let the full-backs take the space he’s leaving.
As much as he loves playing for England, I bet he hates being stuck out there. Gareth might as well not pick him at all. He’s got to put him in the right position, not do it just to get him into the team.
Drag him off the line and be bold. Give him more control, because Foden is good enough to control the game.
He’s dyed his barnet like Gazza had all those years ago, now let him run the show like he did as well!
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The way Scotland lined up, if Foden was given the freedom to move inside, our full-backs would have been the key. That’s what should have happened, anyway.
I played that system of three at the back myself at Portsmouth, and for a season at West Ham, so I know it can cause you problems with the other team’s full-backs.
But England’s were really disappointing. I thought they’d be bombing forward, giving us two v one down both sides. That’s how you outnumber the opposition, but Luke Shaw and Reece James both really played within themselves.
James is a great crosser of a ball, and Shaw had a brilliant season with Manchester United, but there was nothing from either on Friday against Scotland.
It’s like they were scared to go at times, instead of forcing their wing backs to defend. Then again, I’ve thought all along that – no disrespect to Luke – Ben Chilwell is the answer on the left.
And it will be interesting to see what happens with Harry Maguire, now he’s finally fit again.
Everyone seems to think he should go straight back into the side against the Czechs, but that would be really harsh on Tyrone Mings. You have to admit he hasn’t put a foot wrong in either match so far, and England haven’t conceded a goal, so defensively at least there’s not been a problem.
If only we could say the same about the rest of it, because against Scotland we were just too safe, we were toothless.
And although Harry Kane hasn’t been anything like his best, I still wouldn’t have taken him off because he’s always likely to score.
But although it wasn’t great, although there wasn’t much to get excited about, England are still going to qualify.
There’s actually an argument for saying we’d have an easier route if we went through in second place, and avoided the runner-up in France’s group, so who knows.
And Scotland have a better team than a lot of people gave them credit for, and Friday was always going to be tough.
I do think we all went a bit overboard after the first game, because Croatia were poor and just a shadow of the team that beat us in the World Cup semi-final.
But while we weren’t as good as some people were saying then, we’re not as bad as many are claiming now.
All in all, England will be in the knockout stages… and when it comes to a one-off game, we all know anything can happen.
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