Paddy’s football ambassador and former England defender Phil Thompson thinks it’s all about finding the right blend for an exciting Three Lions side this summer.
Gareth Southgate’s squad head into Euro 2020 – or is that Euro 2021? – as one of the big favourites but big questions remain over who should start.
It’s a nice problem for Southgate to have with an abundance of talent in the final third, but Thommo’s worried England might experience the same problems that they did in the Sven-Goran Eriksson era and the so-called golden generation. One of the big failures of those teams was trying to cram the best players into unnatural positions, and Thommo thinks Southgate has to be ruthless and find the blend that works best.
“There are certain individuals in this England team who have got to be given a chance and it’s about doing it at the right time,” Thommo said. “I do think England have a good chance if Gareth Southgate gets the right balance with this team.
“We had the golden generation, didn’t we, of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes and everyone, but we couldn’t shoe-horn them into the right places to get the right blend out of them to succeed. That is what Southgate’s got to do with this side because there’s enough talent.
“Mason Mount is always a good player. He has an assist in him and a vital goal in him as well which I think is important in big games and I just think some of the ingredients are all there.
It’s now just mixing them all together to make sure you get the right blend
“That’s Gareth’s job. It’s a difficult one, but I think we’ve got a chance.”
The Jack Grealish dilemma
One of the big selection issues ahead of the Euros is what to do with Jack Grealish. Where does the Aston Villa man fit in? Does he play at all? Well, Thommo’s got an idea, and thinks the playmaker is simply too good to leave out. Here’s the big man’s blueprint for how England should line up in midfield and attack.
“I think Jack Grealish should play and I know we’re trying to get these younger lads in, Grealish, Phil Foden and you’ve got Mount as well,” explains Thommo. “I just think Grealish, in that final third, he can make anything happen. He can draw fouls, he’s got such great control. That’s why they go on about Gazza.
“I would leave Sterling out. I’d go with Marcus Rashford in a 4-2-3-1. I’d go Mount alongside Declan Rice. I’d have the three there, Marcus Rashford on the left, Foden in the 10 with Grealish and then Harry Kane up front. One of the biggest problems we have in national team football is keeping possession of the ball.
“We were always good at pressing and harrying and all that stuff. Keeping possession of the ball, we’ve embarrassed ourselves at times. Now we can do that. We have learnt over time how to keep the ball.”
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