If Gareth Southgate is going to achieve anything he has to take a risk. You have to take a gamble somewhere. When tournaments come along, as much as you want to remain loyal to players, sometimes you have to throw in something and throw out something else.
Every tournament someone comes out of nowhere and maybe Bukayo Saka is that person for England. He was good in the win over the Czech Republic.
He’s got that burst of speed about him. I think we’ve seen the sides who are doing well have those players who have that quick change in speed, a burst in energy, to make a difference. England haven’t got that and Saka showed he can do that and make something out of nothing. He could be the one who makes the difference. The press want to push Jack Grealish or Jadon Sancho, but Saka is a regular at Arsenal and could be the player who gives England the opportunity to go and win games. At the moment they’re not really good enough for anyone to be convinced that they can win this tournament.
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Sometimes you’ve got to make your own mind up about who can make the difference. The press and the public don’t manage football teams. We can have opinions, but we don’t see players train every day. We don’t know which players Southgate feels he can trust. We’re only judging off of stats and small clips on social media.
Southgate is with them everyday and is making his assessment based on that. You have to assume he hasn’t seen enough from Sancho to play him. We can see from the national team that the German league defensively is poor. The press want to have a go at Southgate for not playing Sancho, but they can’t know the full story.

Saka should keep his place

Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England with Bukayo Saka during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between Czech Republic and England at Wembley Stadium

Image credit: Getty Images

Marcus Rashford shouldn’t even be mentioned at this moment in time for England. I’m surprised he’s made two substitute appearances. Was Southgate making a point in playing him? He’s been nowhere near good enough. I think Saka is in front of Rashford now. He’s more direct, his end product is a lot better and his final decision-making is also a lot better.
Harry Maguire was okay against the Czechs, that’s all I can say. Nothing stood out. It was Saka who made the difference. England are very sluggish and the best team in this tournament so far – Italy – are completely different. The Welsh were outgunned massively by Italy’s reserve team. Roberto Mancini has made Italy almost into a club team. Their attitudes are right. Everyone is ready to play. There’s no sulking. Every player selected against Wales wanted to prove they were ready.
That’s what you’d want from England, but I don’t think we’ll get it. We’ve not seen enough drive from the players. It seems like we’re relying on set pieces and they’ve been no good so far. In general play we don’t make enough clean opportunities.

Kane dilemma must be on Southgate’s mind

England striker Harry Kane

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When you have Harry Kane dropping into midfield, I’m sorry, that’s not going to work. Like everyone else I’m baffled by that situation. What is Kane trying to do? What is Southgate telling him? If I was Dominic Calvert-Lewin my blood would be boiling. He’s not been given an opportunity to play right at the top and lead a line. I haven’t seen a single story calling for him to play. No one is crossing the ball because Kane isn’t in there enough. They’re looking for midfielders to make runs into the box and you’re not going to get that from Declan Rice or Kalvin Phillips.

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It’s a strange one. It must be in Southgate’s head to drop Kane. He made the point to say Kane would start the last game. The question has to have been put to him. Southgate must be thinking about it. But if we play France or Germany next and he leaves Kane out well then all the headlines are already written if England don’t win. Southgate is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

Grealish will never be Gazza

Jack Grealish starred for England

Image credit: Getty Images

We made our group game against Scotland their cup final by belittling them off. We’ve allowed our press to make our players superstars. Other teams relish their moments against us. Teams win tournaments. The Germans are a team. We’ve got players more concerned with being the top man.
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Our press always pick an individual to champion. All of a sudden we want to turn Jack Grealish into Paul Gascoigne. Grealish is never going to be Gascoigne. He was a one-off. He had an incredible personality that can’t be matched. He wanted to make or score great goals. He’s on his own as a player. Grealish can’t be Gascoigne when he hasn’t done it for a big club. He’s playing for Aston Villa. He’s a big fish in a small pond so let’s not build someone up just to be disappointed.
It’s not individuals that win you a tournament. Every machine that runs smoothly needs the small cogs. Small cogs help the big clogs turn and we’ve got a massive problem where we just want to talk about the big cogs.
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