There is a question to ask Gareth Southgate that feels particularly relevant today. If his intent is to convince us that England are not so stray as to risk misusing one of the more talented footballers, then it is.
It involves players making Pep Guardiola’s eyes sparkle whenever the conversation goes in his direction. The player in question prominently wore the Manchester City colors. In Guardiola’s words, he is “excellent” and “unbelievable”. A four-time Premier League champion with such natural style and flair. He made an impression on the ball.
So why is there a reluctance to trust Phil Foden in an England shirt and make him as important to the national team as he is to his club? Why did England hold him back? Why hasn’t this most talented player been selected by the first team for their country?
This wasn’t just a knee-jerk reaction to England’s goalless draw with the United States. And the performance can be summed up with statistics in the middle of the second half that Harry Kane has more touches in his box than his opponents’.
If something happens It’s a question that may be raised ahead of Friday’s game. Because Foden had to wait until he was a two-time Premier League champion before being invited to play for England for the first time.
Normally, any English player who has had a positive impact on Premier League top teams is quickly followed up in the England squad. not in this case Foden made his City debut nearly three years before he made his first appearance for the England first team.
At City, Guardiola puffs his cheeks in admiration and tells us that there are not enough superlatives to describe the boy’s talent. With England it’s different. Foden never seemed to be one of Southgate’s real contenders. He was never an automatic approach when the team lacked creativity.
They have been together as coach and player for two years. But there is also a clear feeling that Southgate is experimenting with many successful players during their careers at the club. instead of relying on
All of this can get confusing if Foden makes the obvious difference.
“Phil Foden not playing in the England XI is a real shame. Because he’s so talented,” said television expert Gary Neville, who often backed Southgate’s options. Said during a news report on Friday. “He is our best player. our best talent One mile and he should be playing.
Unfortunately for Foden, Southgate doesn’t seem to be fully in line with that way of thinking.
as is Only four times in Foden’s international career have he played a full game. By the age of 22, Foden had made 19 appearances, but who would disagree with Neville when he said, If Foden had come from Spain instead of Stockport Could it be much better?
“For me, his talent is huge,” said Neville. “I’ve never seen anything like that.[In the US game]I know we had (Jude) Bellingham, (Jack) Grealish and the others. Gareth likes (Mason) Mount, he likes (Bukayo) Saka, he likes. (Raheem) Sterling, but for me… the fact that Foden is not in the starting XI – and he is not on the bench – is interesting.”
It’s safe to assume that “interesting” in this context is a polite way of saying that Southgate is highly misunderstood. Others will inevitably wear it. Southgate has often been seen as too conservative. And if it feels like déjà vu That’s because the same argument was applied to Grealish’s long absence at Euro 2020 last year.
Southgate to give him maturity One could argue that his choice during that tournament took England to their first major final since 1966, but this was the nature of the job. And he realized that England, as Sven Goran Eriksson once said, It is a country with 60 million football managers. This is one reason Southgate hasn’t posted on social media since 2015 and advises players to avoid Twitter, especially during matches.
Still, there is a valid question when many argue that England vs. USA’s biggest problem is their lack of creativity, while – as they are known – their most creative players have been dropped. on the substitute bench
Southgate’s explanation is that, first of all, he wants to keep a team unchanged after a glorious win over Iran. The reason he sent Jordan Henderson being the first substitute is because he wants more experience in midfield. Rashford was brought down to increase his pace. and asked Grealish to take the ball onto the field
This all sounds good until you remember that Foden has a few special spells to unlock his opponent’s defenses. Despite how great Grealish is Foden leads him for City He started just two games at Euro 2020 and was limited to 19 minutes at the World Cup.
Some will remember that Foden was once sent home from the England squad for breaking COVID-19 rules and wondered if that still counts on him. Unlikely though, two years from now.
Is it just that the England manager has so many options?
Putting Foden in the game against the United States might be necessary to rule out Saka and few people campaigned for it after the Arsenal player scored two goals against Iran earlier in the week.
Yes, Sterling was extremely inefficient on Friday. But don’t judge Chelsea’s men on a bad night. On another occasion, Southgate was asked if Sterling could win the Ballon d’Or. Sterling’s record 81 caps for England over 10 years is proof why Southgate picked him.
How are you a good fit for Foden? or more importantly Did Southgate think it was that important that he was willing to change the game against Wales on Tuesday?
Many observers would argue that it should be at the expense of the mountain, however Southgate has shown in the past that he does not bow to external pressures. And that must be Foden’s biggest concern.
above all It just feels unsatisfying that a player with such a rare gift won’t get the opportunity or more opportunity to show what he can do in a World Cup.
These players didn’t come in too often. It’s what makes them special. When they do it, it’s important that they cherish it. England, like City, should make the most of it.
(Top photo: Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)