Gareth southgate

The strikers giving Southgate a headache

Poor Gareth Southgate. Having three outstanding finishers is giving him a thumping headache ahead of the European Championship. Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden are thrilling football crowds with their goal-scoring talents in three of the best domestic leagues in the world. Most national team managers would welcome such a golden trio: but for Southgate it is a case of pass the paracetamol. He must wish the quality in his squad was more evenly spread so he didn’t have to keep picking Harry Maguire as the central defender when he has the turning circle of a small ocean-going liner. Kane is the only one of the trio who’s an

We still believe: Could England win Qatar 2022?

Here’s a two-pointer pub quiz question: who was Bunny Austin and when, where and why did you hear his name mentioned annually until 2012? The brilliantly-named Bunny was, for an agonising 74 years of hurt, the last Briton to reach the final of the men’s singles at Wimbledon. He didn’t actually win it in 1938, like the better known Fred Perry had three times earlier in that decade. But his name came up in commentary and sports reports without fail every year for decades, in late June or early July, whenever the last Brit was knocked out or, on heady occasions, when one reached the quarters or even semis. Tim

Damian Reilly

Gareth Southgate doesn’t deserve a knighthood

It was some achievement of England’s, frankly, not winning Euro 2020 given the players we had. As I sat down before kick off and began the customary cursing at the inexplicable omission once again of our best player, Jack Grealish, my wife tried to console me. The fact Gareth Southgate very clearly had no clue which was his best starting eleven was really a secret weapon, she said. It meant other managers couldn’t second guess him. Hmm, I thought. The relentless corporatisation of the England football team over the last two decades has been an exercise in eradicating flair – that quality most hated in boardrooms because it is unquantifiable. Putting

Euro 2020: This game is tailor-made for Southgate’s England

Right now, it’s a bit like you’re five years old and it’s the night before Christmas but you can’t be sure who is going to come down the chimney, Santa Claus or Benito Mussolini. I mean for football fans – not for the public school bedwetters on here who refer to the world’s favourite sport as ‘girlball’. Italy are unbeaten in their last 33 games: good. Runs come to an end sooner or later. This is a game tailor-made for Southgate’s favourite tactics of stifling containment. This may well turn out to be one of the most boring matches in the history of football. I would start with Sancho and

What’s the problem with Gareth Southgate’s ‘war talk’?

War analogies are a cherished football tradition. From chants of ‘Stand up if you won the war’ to the Daily Mirror’s infamous 1996 headline ‘Achtung! Surrender – For you Fritz, ze Euro 96 Championship is over!’ But the Euro 2020 tournament has been marked by restraint from the British tabloid media. It’s as if someone had told them not to mention the war. Unperturbed by the comparative quiet on the war-theme front this year, Gareth Southgate has gone out guns blazing in an interview with the Telegraph. Ahead of England’s final against Italy on Sunday, he told the paper that it was a kind of Blitz spirit that allowed his

Have Southgate’s England lost their moral compass?

Back in the 1980s the BBC Match of the Day opening credits featured a clip of Manchester United winger Mickey Thomas prostrate on the pitch. He raises himself up and gives a saucy wink to the camera. The implication was that he had ‘won’ a penalty and was cheekily acknowledging his successful deceit. Contrast with Raheem Sterling on Wednesday night. It’s generally accepted that if there was any contact between the England striker and the body parts of various Danish defenders swarming around him, it was minimal, and not enough to send him tumbling to the ground. And certainly not worth a crucial penalty. But Sterling seemed oblivious, no guilty

The misery of watching England beat Denmark on ITV Hub

The tension in last night’s semi-final against Denmark was unbearable, wasn’t it? The early Danish goal – the thrilling equaliser – that penalty rebound! Every true Englishman had their hearts in their mouths. Even Priti Patel, I fancy, found herself reaching for a toothpick. But to those who were watching the show over the internet, it was a hundred times more tense. It wasn’t just: will we score a goal? It was: if we score a goal will I see it happen? The only means of watching the game, for those with Apple TV or a similar blessing of the modern age, was the ITV App. And by the climax

What the England team doesn’t get about ‘taking the knee’

England’s players being booed by their own fans is not a new phenomenon. But for the booing to be about politics rather than obnoxious personalities and tournament underperformance is. The furore over players taking the knee represents a new and exciting stage in the testy relationship between team and fans, in which each can take actions calculated to annoy and upset the other side, while believing themselves to be entirely in the right. The England team – in the words of manager Gareth Southgate – believe they’re just ‘trying to move towards equality and support our own teammates.’ For the FA, taking the knee is nothing more than ‘a show