Ferdinand: This Is Why Southgate Doesn’t Pick Tomori

AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori protesting his sending off

Chelsea walked away from the San Siro with a 2-0 win against 10-men AC Milan in a Group E UEFA Champions League clash. The Blues were handed a bit of luck after Milan defender Fikayo Tomori was sent off early in the game, with Man United legend Rio Ferdinand claiming this is potentially why England manager Gareth Southgate doesn’t pick the player.

Rossoneri defender and former Blues player Tomori had another disaster of a game versus his old team after being shown a red card in the 18th minute.

Tomori was adjudged to have tugged back on the shirt and shoulder of Chelsea star Mason Mount as he was bearing down on goal, one-on-one with Milan goalkeeper Ciprian Tătăruşanu. Mount ended up getting his shot away, although the England International was off balance as a result of the pressure on his back from Tomori.

Referee Daniel Siebert brought back play after Mount’s shot was saved to award a penalty to Chelsea, whilst showing Tomori a red card for his challenges, much to the bewilderment of both the Milan team and crowd.

The decision capped off a woeful two games for the 24-year-old Rossoneri defender, who was responsible for the concession of two goals last week in the first meeting between the sides.

Former Man United star Rio Ferdinand spoke after the game about how he felt Tomori’s two performances were why England manager Gareth Southgate didn’t use the player in the most recent international break. The player didn’t feature in either of the Three Lions’ 2 fixtures despite being called up and many fans wanting to Tomori be given a chance.

“The last two games, he’s probably showed two elements of his game where Gareth Southgate’s thinking: ‘I was justified in not picking him,’” Ferdinand said on BT Sport after the game.

“Lapses in concentration for the penalty, allowing Mason Mount to get in behind him, and in the first game, his body position and the way he tried to make a clearance for the Aubameyang goal. 

“Two big games, showpiece games for him to really put a marker down and stake his claim for a place in the England team. But these two games couldn’t have gone any worse for him in that sense. 

“He’s young and he’ll come again. I still feel he’s worth an opportunity to go and prove himself in an England shirt. But these games will have definitely gone against him in Gareth’s eyes, I’m sure.”

AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori protesting his sending off
AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori protesting his sending off

The victory takes Chelsea top of Group E, 3 points ahead of Milan who need to win their next 2 games if they’re to qualify for the next round of the Champions League.

Many fans and pundits called Tomori’s sending off harsh. Chelsea manager Graham Potter seemed to agree with that notion in his post-match interview, admitting the Blues got slightly lucky with the decision.

“Credit to the players. They were really good. We had a bit of luck with the opposition going down to 10 men. Overall the performance was good. It’s nice to keep a clean sheet and to come away with three points is fantastic,” said Potter to BT Sport post-match.

“It’s hard from where I’m sitting. It looks like he had his hand on him and Mason Mount was through on goal. I need to look again clearly. It’s nice for the penalty and nice for Jorginho to score.

“It was a nice move to lead to it. It is what it is. Sometimes they go for you. It’s tricky.”

Chelsea travel to Aston Villa on Sunday as they aim to continue their unbeaten run under Graham Potter. The Blues have now won four games on the bounce and are enjoying life under the former Brighton boss. Chelsea sit 4th in the Premier League standings, having played a game less than the 3 teams above them.

Milan, on the other hand, also play away from home on Sunday. They travel to 18th placed Verona as the Rossoneri aim to keep pace with the top of the table.