Southgate creatively criticized over the left flank

Anyone who gauged the mood in England before the European Championship might have thought that Gareth Southgate's team would have no trouble winning the cup in Germany. The reality, however, is proving to be stubborn, and the English press has sharpened their knives after the failure against Denmark. One reporter showed remarkable creativity.

Southgate creatively criticized over the left flank Embed from Getty Images

The main point of criticism is the left flank. Kieran Trippier is actually a right-back, but coach Gareth Southgate positions him on the other side, where he has yet to make an impact.

The same goes for Phil Foden as a left winger, according to The Athletic. "It has been said before, but Trippier offers no offensive threat on the left, and Phil Foden always cuts inside. This makes the English attack predictable," the outlet observes.

"England has never functioned so poorly under Southgate," notes The Independent. "The formation doesn't fit, lacks balance. England desperately needs Luke Shaw, and they are missing a certain type of midfielder, but it's more than that. Southgate's choices are currently exacerbating the problems. Harry Kane looks slow, Jude Bellingham has too much freedom to do too much, Phil Foden gets too little space and does too little. They are almost getting in each other's way."

The most creative criticism comes from The Guardian. "They were constantly forced to play towards the center of the field. The team in red could defend that easily, safe in the knowledge that their opponents wouldn't hurt them on the flanks," it reads. Those with a good command of English will notice that the paragraph reads a bit awkwardly.

The trick is quickly revealed: it was an analogy with England's football just as they didn't use their left side, journalist Jonathan Liew had humorously attempted to write a paragraph without the letter 'a'. "England only plays on seventy percent of the field, which is like trying to write an entire paragraph without the 'a'. That's what happens when you deliberately limit your options."

Moreover, the press hasn't held back on criticizing Southgate's tactical decisions. The mismatch in player positions is a recurring theme, with Trippier and Foden's roles under particular scrutiny. Trippier, as a right-footed player, finds it challenging to provide the necessary width and offensive support from the left side, which limits the team's ability to stretch the opposition. This issue is compounded by Foden's tendency to drift inside, which, while showcasing his creativity and technical skills, often congests the central areas and makes England's attacks predictable and easier to defend against.

The absence of Luke Shaw, a natural left-back, is felt deeply, as his ability to overlap and deliver crosses adds a different dimension to the attack. Without him, the left side lacks dynamism and balance. In midfield, there's a noticeable gap in the type of player needed to link defense and attack seamlessly. While Bellingham's versatility and freedom are valuable, it also means there's a lack of structure, leading to disjointed play and missed opportunities to capitalize on his strengths.

Harry Kane, the team's talisman, is another point of concern. His apparent lack of pace and sharpness is a stark contrast to his usual self, affecting his ability to lead the line effectively and provide a constant threat to the opposition. This sluggishness could be a result of fatigue or a lack of proper service from his teammates, highlighting further issues in England's overall tactical setup.

The creative criticism by The Guardian encapsulates the core problem succinctly. By limiting their play to the center and neglecting the flanks, England becomes one-dimensional. The analogy of writing without a particular letter underscores the self-imposed limitations the team is currently grappling with. It's a clever way to illustrate how tactical inflexibility can stifle a team's potential, making it easier for opponents to anticipate and counter their moves.

In summary, the criticism directed at Southgate and his tactical choices reflects deeper issues within the team. From positional mismatches to the lack of balance and offensive predictability, these problems hinder England's performance and potential success. The creative analogy by The Guardian adds a layer of insight, suggesting that expanding their tactical options and utilizing the full width of the pitch could unlock better performances and results for the team.

Updated: 10:36, 21 Jun 2024

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