Euro 2024: Why Gareth Southgate Is the Major Concern in England’s Poor Performances

Euro 2024: Why Gareth Southgate Is the Major Concern in England’s Poor Performances

Martin Moses
updated at June 21, 2024 at 7:01 AM
In this article:
Harry Kane logo
Bayern Munich logoFEngland logo
UEFA European Championship logo
G. Southgate
-DEngland logo
Trent Alexander-Arnold logo
Liverpool logoDEngland logo
Phil Foden logo
Manchester City logoMEngland logo
Jude Bellingham logo
Real Madrid logoMEngland logo
Cole Palmer logo
C. Palmer
Chelsea logoMEngland logo
  • Gareth Southgate has once again come under sharp scrutiny after England registered another dull performance at Euro 2024
  • The Three Lions were held to a one-all draw by Denmark, with Southgate attracting criticism with his line-ups and substitutions
  • Sports Brief breaks down why the Euro 2020 finalists' struggles are down to their manager despite having one of the best squads

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Of all the 24 teams that qualified for Euro 2024, not more than three teams, and I am being generous, can boast of having a better squad than the embarrassment of riches England has.

So much so that captain Harry Kane admitted they had enough to be considered the favourites to lift the trophy in Berlin next month.

Harry Kane, England, Euro 2024, Gareth Southgate, Cole Palmer, Trent Alexander-Arnold
England captain Harry Kane applauds fans at the end of their Euro 2024 game against Denmark on June 20, 2024. Photo by Image Photo Agency.
Source: Getty Images

However, two games in, the Three Lions have done little to inspire confidence that this might be the year 'football will finally come home'. The country, despite being the perceived cradle of football, the owner of the best league in the world, hasn't won a major trophy since 1966.

And it is all down to one man - Gareth Southgate.

Why Gareth Southgate is England's main problem

Southgate has never really been a fan favourite despite reaching the latter stages of major competitions in recent times. Many feel that he is wasting away the country's golden generation with conservative tactics, which tend to inhibit his squad from reaching the desired heights.

England's two games in Germany have been drab and dour, with their opponents, Serbia and Denmark, arguably having the better periods. Despite being stacked, they have struggled to break down teams and have looked weak at the back.

Southgate has been adamant about trying out Trent Alexander-Arnold in a new midfield role alongside Declan Rice. After the Denmark game, he argued that he was yet to get an ideal replacement for Kalvin Phillips, who has been his go-to. This coming from a man who has two of the most exciting talents in the Premier League, Adam Wharton and Kobbie Mainoo, on the bench is very rich.

For all his excellent passing range and exquisite vision, Alexander-Arnold has been the first player to be hooked off in both games.

Phil Foden played out of position

Southgate has used an unchanged starting XI in both games, which, on paper, looks good. But when they line up on the pitch, an instant sense of some disconnect appears. Phil Foden, who has constantly mentioned that he is better off as a number 10, has been played from the left. He can play from either wing, but he is devastating just behind the striker. You don't believe us? Watch his 2023/2024 Premier League highlights.

Jude Bellingham might have been the difference against Serbia, but against Denmark, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg put in an Andrea Pirlo-esque performance. The Real Madrid man lost 10 duels - the most by any England player.

One cannot help but feel that moving Bellingham back to the number 8 position and allowing Foden to occupy the number 10 position might solve Southgate's midfield and creativity conundrum.

Southgate's poor substitutions

On top of that, for a manager who can equally field a strong XI from his bench, Southgate's in-game tactics have been wanting. Cole Palmer is surprisingly yet to get a single minute of action despite registering the most number of goal involvements in the Premier League last season. But more on that later.

Against Denmark, England found a team that matched them on the pitch man for man, not because they have an equally good squad in terms of big names, but because of the tactics deployed.

The three-man defence, the marauding wing-backs and double pivot Kasper Hjumland started with meant that England needed runners and creative players to pick them out.

But here was the problem—Southgate started his best creators, Kane, Bukayo Saka, Alexander-Arnold, and Phil Foden, who know how to conjure passes to get behind defences. These players needed runners who could get behind the Danish centre-backs.

But when Southgate eventually decided to bring the runners (Jarrod Bowen and Ollie Watkins), he removed the creators, and the cycle continued, which made no sense. Also, despite Alexander-Arnold's frailties in midfield, no England player created more chances than him. He only lasted 54 minutes.

Why is Cole Palmer not playing for England at Euro 2024?

Back to the Palmer issue and other things that don't make sense, the Chelsea winger must be wondering what else he needs to do to have a peak for his country. Only Kane, Kylian Mbappe, and Erling Haaland had more goal involvements than the former Manchester City player. With the game crying for a breath of fresh approach, Palmer was the answer, staring at Southgate.

Look, England might still be unbeaten, but that statistic doesn't tell the whole story. Southgate's main concern remains how best he can get the best out of his stars, who are always in the mood for their clubs.

The squad is there, the talent is there, but the organisation, set-up and tactics are non-existent. No disrespect to Group C teams, but proper grilled teams will enjoy playing against this England side.

As it stands, England fans, I have news for you - it is not coming home.

Euro 2024: Wives and girlfriends (WAGs) of England stars

Away from the lacklustre performance, Sports Brief has also reported on the wives and girlfriends (WAGs) of England stars at Euro 2024.

The players were accompanied by their loved ones to Germany, with many of them spotted in the stands during their opening game against Serbia.

Bukayo Saka's girlfriend, Tolami Benson, wore a unique jacket with the Arsenal star's first number at the club emblazoned on it.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)