Southgate has failed if England don’t win the Euros.

Published: Monday, 28 June 2021

The team we can agree to disagree on. England fans have all got their own ideas of the eleven they would like to see start against Germany. The one thing not in doubt is this - England will never have a better chance to win the Euros. If they don’t - Gareth Southgate will have failed. And he should be sacked if that happens, not rewarded with another contract.

The draw couldn’t be kinder - and it’s only got better since England last played. The best teams in the competition are all in the other half and one has already gone. I’ve never been of the opinion that if ‘you’re going to win the competition then you’ll have to beat everybody anyway’. What nonsense. Not if somebody else beats them you don’t. And Belgium beat Portugal last night (Sunday). Either the Belgians or Italy go out next. England can plan for games against the likes of the Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden or the Ukraine.

Granted, there is the matter of beating Germany before that. And that’s what worries me.

The hysteria at the 2018 WC started after group wins against Tunisia and Panama. Then Belgium beat us. There was the penalty shoot out win v Colombia followed by a comfortable 2-0 win v Sweden. Then Croatia beat us. And Belgium beat us again in the third placed play-off. So - the only two decent teams we played both beat us.
With respect (which usually means with no respect at all - and does in this case) Tunisia? Panama? Colombia?

Southgate and England have got it all on against Germany and to be honest, I haven’t seen anything at this tournament to make me believe that they can win the game. Two scratchy 1-0 wins v Croatia and the Czech’s - and the goalless draw against Scotland - haven’t filled me with optimism.

Behind the results are these facts. Coming into the ko stages England were the slowest team at the Euros in getting the ball from back to front. In fairness - if you like your football played ‘the right way’, Belgium were next on that list. It’s just that I like to see my football played like Italy under Mancini - and Liverpool in the PL. England’s lack of creativity is a recurring theme. It’s a huge reason as to why Harry Kane has struggled at these Euro’s and why Phil Foden looks nothing like the player that wears a Manchester City jersey. And this from the new ‘golden generation’ - who we were promised would sweep teams away - playing on the front foot. There’s been no sign of that.

Nine of England’s 12 goals at the 2018 WC came from set-pieces - four corners, two free-kicks and three penalties, two of which were won at corners.

Delve deeper and you’ll discover that England have played 11 teams from inside FIFA’s top 50 rankings since March 2019 and scored only 19 goals in 14 matches. Kane hasn’t scored a goal from open play in any of those matches.

So the reliance on set-pieces is obvious. Heaven forbid. Imagine Sam Allardyce spending as much time on the subject as Southgate has recently. 🤷‍♂️ I believe Southgate’a team against Germany will reflect the need to make the most of set-pieces, which is why Trippier will play at left-back. Mount starts if Covid protocols allow and so does Foden - which means Grealish doesn’t. Again - could you imagine the outcry if Allardyce were in charge and he named a team without the country’s most creative talent in it? Perceptions you see. Perceptions.
By the way - I hope I’m wrong, but if anyone can ‘win’ a foul it’s Grealish. And now that he’s wearing an England jersey - that’s ok. 🤷‍♂️  

I wish Southgate and England all the very best for the game v Germany, hoping that they don’t get too distracted by all the noise. It’s just another game. Go and win it.

Meanwhile Farhad Moshiri continues to take us all for fools. He and Alisher Usmanov, who’s really got the money, want Rafa Benitez as their next manager at Everton. They’ve done what all govts do when they have to bad news to announce - they leak over a period of time hoping that everybody will get used to the idea of what’s going to happen - so when it does the reaction won’t be as bad.

Evertonians are growing used to the idea that the PL’s most ruthlessly, selfish, ambitious individual will be their next manager - so I suppose the plan has worked to some degree. But the real issues are once again beneath the surface. It will end in tears. Benitez will once again pursue his own agenda - while wrapping it up as ‘in the club’s best interests’. That’s how he managed to con the paying customers at Newcastle - by creating a phoney war with Mike Ashley that he knew he would never win. When the time came - he left - for a ‘long term’ project in China.

Never mind that he managed Liverpool. His best days are long since behind him - and for me there are many better options. Moshiri has badly mis-judged this one. It’s not the die-hard Evertonian that he’s pissed off - it’s hard working staff at the club who don’t want to work with Benitez - and worse - legends from different eras at Goodison - who’ve recently been saying to me ‘I’m done’. That’s sad. That’s deeply sad. Trust me - it won’t be long before Moshiri is looking for the seventh manager he’s employed since arriving at the club. In many ways - this is going to prove a ‘costly‘  mistake.