EPL

Southgate issues World Cup warning to absent Manchester United players

By Sports Desk June 13, 2022

England manager Gareth Southgate has warned the Manchester United players missing from his current squad that they face a tough test to secure a spot for the World Cup in Qatar later this year. 

The Three Lions are preparing for their fourth Nations League match against Hungary on Tuesday, following a three-match winless streak that has seen them lose in Budapest before draws with Germany and Italy. 

Southgate's focus is already on fine-tuning his squad for the World Cup, which begins on November 21, and managing the "strange lead-in" to the finals that fall midway through the 2022-23 Premier League season. 

There are several notable absentees from Southgate’s ranks this month, including Manchester United trio Luke Shaw, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, with Harry Maguire currently the only representative from United in the squad. 

When asked if United’s absence from the Champions League next season could result in their England contingent being fresher than some of their counterparts, Southgate declared "They've got a lot to do to get back in the squad." 

Shaw is currently sidelined through injury and has a clearer route back into Southgate's plans since Chelsea's Ben Chilwell is currently the only recognised left-back available, while Sancho and Rashford were both omitted due to poor form. 

With just one England camp before the World Cup, falling in September with the final two Nations League games against Germany and Italy, opportunities to break back into the squad will be limited and there is vast competition for a seat on the plane to Qatar. 

Rashford contributed four goals and two assists for United in the Premier League last season in 25 appearances, while Sancho's debut season at Old Trafford saw him net three goals and secure three assists in 29 league appearances. 

Southgate has until October 21 to submit a long list of players to FIFA, with the final squad expected to be announced three weeks later.

The 51-year-old, who has come under fire for his perceived cautious team selections, is hoping to work closely with clubs to monitor the fitness of his players early next season.

"Information sharing is pretty good medically and we get the performance data from the Premier League so you've got some markers," he said.

"But equally there's always an understanding that clubs that have big games might not want to share certain things too early if they've got players that might miss games. 

"In general we have decent relationships with the clubs on that stuff but there's always going to be a bit of an element of the unknown in that period."

Related items

  • Euro 2024 social round-up: Scotland take in the views, Pepe hits top speed Euro 2024 social round-up: Scotland take in the views, Pepe hits top speed

    Saturday's Euro 2024 action was headlined by some of the game's biggest stars, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Kevin De Bruyne grabbing the attention.

    Ronaldo recorded his record-breaking seventh Euros assist – and was inundated with requests for photos from pitch invaders – as Portugal clinched top spot in Group F with a 3-0 win over Turkiye.

    De Bruyne then joined Youri Tielemans on the scoresheet as Belgium beat Romania 2-0, teeing up a tense finale in Group E.

    Georgia and Czechia, meanwhile, played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in Hamburg, leaving both teams needing a victory on the final matchday to have any chance of advancing.

    But what else was going on around Euro 2024? Here, we run through the best social media posts of the day.

    Eze and Konsa pool together

    England's social media accounts have been a trove of entertaining content throughout this tournament, and on Saturday's edition of their Lions' Den livestream, Eberechi Eze and Ezri Konsa took centre-stage.

    Eze and Konsa took on the 'what a clearance' challenge, looking to clear a pool table as quickly as possible as a pairing.

    A respectable score put them third on the leaderboard, but they were unable to match the top two pairings – Declan Rice and Ivan Toney, and Jarrod Bowen and Marc Guehi.

    Kante shows off

    France's goalless draw with the Netherlands on Friday may not have been a game for the neutrals, but we were at least treated to another tireless display from N'Golo Kane.

    Even at the age of 33 and after a season in the Saudi Pro League, Kante remains one of the game's top box-to-box midfielders, covering every blade of grass against the Oranje.

    On Saturday, France's official X account proved once and for all that a year out of the European game has not affected Kante's physique… 

    It's fair to say he remains in tip-top condition.

    Cologne turns yellow for Romania

    A sizeable contingent of Romanian fans made their opening game at Euro 2024 a real spectacle, forming a wall of yellow in Munich as they crushed Ukraine 3-0.

    On Saturday, they headed to Cologne for their second match against Belgium, which ended in defeat despite a spirited performance.

    The highlight of the day for many supporters will surely have been the pre-match scenes, as they turned the historic city centre yellow.

    Ronaldo's pride as Portugal progress

    Portugal's game against Turkiye was interrupted on several occasions as pitch invaders attempted to grab a photograph with one of the world's most famous players.

    Ronaldo had already made his mark on the pitch with an assist for former Manchester United team-mate Bruno Fernandes, as the Selecao demonstrated their credentials with a 3-0 victory.

    After the game, he took to social media to share a few snaps of his own, as well as some words of congratulations for his Portugal team-mates.

    Scotland savour the view

    Scotland's Euro 2024 adventure could come to an end on Sunday, with Steve Clarke's men requiring a victory over Hungary to have a chance of reaching the last 16.

    If they are sent packing after this weekend, they will definitely miss the scenic views at their Garmisch-Partenkirchen base camp.

    They will be hoping Saturday's training session was not their last set to this jaw-dropping mountain vista. 

    Like a fine wine

    Portugal's victory over Turkiye featured another composed performance from 41-year-old centre-back Pepe.

    The former Real Madrid man displayed his excellent reading of the game to cut out one menacing counterattack from Turkiye with the score at 1-0 and was generally excellent throughout.

    Pepe may be no slouch, but we're pretty sure UEFA have done him a favour with this picture… 

  • Rice: England put too much pressure on themselves Rice: England put too much pressure on themselves

    England are "desperate" to win Euro 2024, but Declan Rice feels the Three Lions "put too much pressure on ourselves".

    Gareth Southgate and his team have faced plenty of scrutiny in the media following unconvincing displays in their matches so far.

    England beat Serbia 1-0 in their Group C opener before drawing 1-1 with Denmark on Thursday.

    While they sit in pole position to progress as group winners ahead of facing Slovenia, England – particularly in attack – do not look up to the standard of some of the other teams to have impressed so far at the tournament.

    But Rice believes adding extra pressure does not help.

    He said: "We are all so desperate to win, to be leaders, to go out there and give people memories for lifetimes and sometimes I maybe feel like we put too much pressure on ourselves where we could just go out there and let it just take care of ourselves.

    "We know we can be better in and out of possession and there is lots to improve on, which is a positive in a way.

    "I think there is probably more pressure now from the outside just because of the seasons some of our players have had.

    "If you look at the goals that our front four have scored this year, it’s over 100 between them. Of course, there is expectation because they are the best players in the world. And that goes for everyone throughout the team.

    "There's going to be that pressure. This is England [at] a major tournament. But this is our job and this is what we have to deal with."

    England's questionable displays have seen them drop from being Euro 2024 favourites, at least according to Opta's supercomputer, to the third-most likely team to win the tournament, behind France and hosts Germany.

    England round out their Group C campaign against Slovenia on Tuesday.

  • As Carragher questions England approach, what does the data say about Southgate's substitutions? As Carragher questions England approach, what does the data say about Southgate's substitutions?

    Gareth Southgate's game management came under fire once again on Thursday, as England produced another underwhelming display in a 1-1 draw with Denmark.

    The Three Lions were second-best for long periods and appeared content to sit back after Harry Kane's 18th-minute opener, with Morten Hjulmand's rasping strike handing Denmark a point – the least they deserved.

    Former England defender Jamie Carragher was among those to highlight the lethargic nature of the display, saying more energy was required from the bench.

    Posting on X as Southgate made a triple substitution on the 70-minute mark, introducing Eberechi Eze, Jarrod Bowen and Ollie Watkins for Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Kane, Carragher wrote: "Pleased Southgate has made changes. By the look of England so far they are going to need real energy from the bench in every game. Disappointed Anthony Gordon wasn't one of those changes."

    Southgate's reluctance to use Gordon was a hot topic on social media, with England again looking lopsided in the absence of a natural left winger or left-back.

    Just 23.3% of England's attacking touches came on that flank, with 44.6% coming on the right-hand side, where Kyle Walker – not renowned for his attacking qualities – often looking like the Three Lions' best outlet.

    One major criticism of Southgate at recent tournaments has been a perceived failure to change games from the bench, but does the data back up that idea?

    As far as the Euros are concerned, yes. Southgate has made 33 substitutions in total at the 2020 and 2024 editions, with those players playing a total of 682 minutes.

    They have just one goal and one assist between them in that time. Both came at Euro 2020, with Jordan Henderson scoring in a 4-0 quarter-final win over Ukraine and Jack Grealish assisting Kane's header against Germany in the previous round.

    In 97 games under Southgate overall, England have scored 19 goals via substitutes, a paltry figure given the Three Lions have netted 207 times during his reign, playing 35 qualification matches against largely inferior opponents.

     

    Those goals have come via 13 players, with nobody netting more than two (Tammy Abraham, Danny Welbeck, Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount, Grealish and Kane).

    Notably, only two of those 13 players – Kane and Watkins – are in England's squad for this tournament. Rashford (32) and Grealish (21) have 53 substitute appearances between them under Southgate but were the two most high-profile omissions from his party.

    Carragher also believes Southgate must recognise "football is about picking the best team, not the best players".

    While Foden has appeared frustrated while stationed on the left-hand side, Trent Alexander-Arnold has struggled to aid England's ball progression in an unfamiliar midfield role – only eight of his 40 attempted passes against Denmark were into the final third.

    Carragher wrote for The Telegraph: "Unfortunately, two of the best Premier League footballers – Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden – will have to be sacrificed now.  Introducing Alexander-Arnold into midfield in a major tournament was always a risk. 

     

    "It is a more physically demanding position than full-back, and, on the evidence so far, Alexander-Arnold has more time and space to utilise his passing range when he is in the hybrid role.

    "Nobody loves watching Foden more than me. But for England to come up with a system that works and complements everyone, he cannot operate in the starting XI with Jude Bellingham and Kane if they are all trying to occupy the same space and positions."

    Foden did not have a single touch in the attacking third within the width of the six-yard box against Denmark, and when it came to making changes, Southgate preferred to stick with a below-par Bellingham rather than shift the Manchester City star infield.

    Southgate's substitutions will be key if England are to grow into this tournament, and the data suggests he has improvements to make in that area.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.