England manager Gareth Southgate has dropped one of the game’s current biggest superstars after feeling the pressure amid growing speculation over his future.
The England National team slumped to a 1-0 loss to Italy on Friday night which condemned them to relegation in the UEFA Nations League, where they will be part of the ‘B League’ from the next campaign. The Three Lions couldn’t muster a single goal from open-play in the five Nations League fixtures so far, a damning statistic given the abundance of attacking talent at Gareth Southgate’s disposal.
Southgate has come under major scrutiny for his squad selection in recent times, particularly after England’s 4-0 defeat at the hands of Hungary just after the end of the last club campaign (2021/2022). Many England fans have slated the former England U21 coach for his antagonistic style of play, often deploying a back five with a double pivot in front of them. Extremely negative considering the aforementioned abundance of attacking options, namely Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish, Mason Mount and Bukayo Saka, who was named England Player of the Year for 2021/2022 on Friday.
England face Germany on Monday night in the final game of the UEFA Nations League group stages. Despite there not being anything to play for, Southgate will be hoping his side can restore some pride and bounce back from Friday night’s disappointment.
Speaking at the press conference ahead of Monday night’s game, Southgate acknowledged the pressure he’s under and stated that he’s aware of what he’ll be judged on.
“Look, I’m the manager,” said Southgate. “The results haven’t been at the level we want, that we require, so no matter what job you have in football that would be the case.
“I’m not hiding from it, we are not enjoying it but we have to keep doing the right things every day to keep improving.”
“I am not foolish. My sole focus at the moment is to get the team right for (Monday) night.
“We’re focused on a good performance, a good result, then you’re looking towards the World Cup. And I know ultimately I will be judged on what happens at that World Cup.
“Contracts are irrelevant in football because managers can have three, four, five-year contracts and if results aren’t good enough then you accept that’s time to part ways.”
Southgate’s reaction to the loss against Italy is seemingly to leave out some big names from the 23-man squad to face Germany. The most notable absentee is Liverpool superstar Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The Liverpool right-back is truly a wonderful talent, revolutionizing the fullback role under Jürgen Klopp. However, his poor start to the season may prove fatal to his World Cup chances given the talent England possess in that position, in Kyle Walker, Reece James and Kieran Trippier.
Trent will be hoping his exclusion from the squad to face Germany is just to give Southgate the opportunity to evaluate other players whose spot in the England squad is far from guaranteed.
However, Trent should still strive to swiftly improve his form ahead of the World Cup in November if he is to secure his spot on the plane to Qatar.