SWANNY'S WORLD OF SPORT: A squad picked by guesswork and on hunches
I can only assume Gareth Southgate didn't watch Joe Gomez play for Liverpool against Spurs at Wembley recently.
If he had he wouldn’t have picked him for the forthcoming England defeats against Germany and Brazil. Gomez was better than Dejan Lovren that day, but then that’s a ridicously low bar.
The youngster was found wanting against a slick Spurs side. Why on earth does Southgate believe it will be any different against international opposition? Gomez is just 20 starts into his Liverpool career so expecting him to cope with such a huge step up is just unfair.
Apparently Southgate wants his defenders to be comfortable in possession which is why he’s dumped Manchester United’s Chris Smalling.
It’s clearly an old-fashioned belief, but I want my defenders to be able to defend first.
That’s what will matter when we tackle the best teams in the biggest tournaments.
I’d rather have a defender coached by Jose Mourinho than one coached by Jurgen Klopp when we come across Spain or Italy because we won’t gain enough possession to be bothered about whether or not the likes of Gomez can pick out a team-mate with a pass often enough, especially if that team-mate is Jordan Henderson who will just give the ball away straight away anway.
The announcement of every England squad these days sends shivers down my spine and that’s before star players start to withdraw forcing us to pick nonentities like Jack Cork.
I have sympathy for Southgate as he gets no help from our all-powerful Premier League clubs, but he remains an over-promoted coach who now appears to be adopting guesswork to select squads. He’s desperately swimming against the tide.
That’s the only explanation for the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek whose loan spell at Crystal Palace has co-incided with the club becoming the worst team in the Premier League.
Loftus-Cheek has appeared in eight Palace fixtures so far and not once been on the winning side. I accept England’s talent pool is shallow, but is there really no-one better than this 21 year-old midfielder?
You can’t pick England team based on the hunches of a coach who, let us never forget, helped relegate Middlesbrough in his only previous proper management job.
Southgate’s selection of Tammy Abraham can only be a hunch. His four goals for a poor Swansea side in the Premier League this season is a decent return, but they’ve arrived against Huddersfield, Watford and Crystal Palace. He’s not exactly Harry Kane.
England need players who will score against modest teams like Iceland and good ones like Germany, not rubbish teams like San Marino.
Still Southgate has acted wisely in dumping Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Daniel Sturridge and by ignoring the inevitable clamour (usually among Arsenal fans) for the return of Jack Wilshere.
He’s probably even right to recall Ashley Young who has benefitted from the arrival of Mourinho to Old Trafford.
He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Mourinho is a far better coach than Klopp. Individual player development proves that point.