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Should Gareth Southgate Consider Dropping Phil Foden Amidst Heavy Fans Backlash?

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By Olumide Akinlaja - - 5 Mins Read
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Euro 2024 | shutterstock

There is some rising fan backlash against Phil Foden over his performances for the Three Lions at the ongoing Euro 2024 in Germany. However, to be fair to the most recent Premier League PFA Player of the Season, the rage isn't about his ability as a fine player.

 

Granted, everyone seems to agree that Phil Foden is a world-class player in his own right. But many followers of English football think the midfielder isn't ever "good enough" for international football. Again, to be fair to the fans, the underperforming Foden has consistently  put up average performances in his outings for the English team so far at Euro 2024. It’s safe to say he has been average at best, losing possession in crucial times and halting the team's flow.

The rest of this article examines the “technically right” backlash of some fans on Foden’s Euro 2024 performances. It also explores the other side of the debate on why the England manager  should rather stick with the Manchester City forward.

Does Foden Need to Play the No “10” Role?

Some fans have backed Foden’s largely unfulfilling performances by stating that Foden featured strictly on England's left flank while he enjoyed more freedom when playing with City last season. Whenever De Bruyne was out of action, the newest father of three fielded as a No. 10 or played off the right.

Micah Richards, a renowned English sports journalist, was one of the loudest to request Jude Bellingham's No. 10 shirt for Foden. Speaking to ‘The Rest Is Football’ podcast on Phil's role at Euro 2024, he remarks: “Phillip Foden. Phillip f-ing Foden. I'm not going to swear because he doesn't deserve it. What can you do? I told you it doesn't work.”

Like Richards, many fans think either Phil or Bellingham has to take the No. 10 role while the other watches him do it from the stands. However, the tournament has seen both players seemingly dancing around each other for much of the games they've played in Germany.

Responding to critics about why he's failed to give the 24-year-old a more central role with the Three Lions, Southgate argued that Foden doesn't naturally play as a No. 10 for City. However, Southgate failed to consider that City and England are very different sides.

Guardiola encourages his lads to move all over the place, exchanging positions with one another to confuse opponents and create more positive room. However, Southgate's positions are more rigid, a fact the manager might not admit easily.

Beautiful Football or Successful Outing?

 

 

 

Credit: BBC

Objectively addressing the situation, the Three Lions have been fortunate to have a host of top-notch forwards over the last decade, with a familiar problem of having little room to accommodate all. So, it might just be technically almost “counterproductive” to play an attacking midfield of Bellingham, Foden, and Rice for an international team.

Meanwhile, with England's quarter-final spot already booked, Southgate and his team may have saved themselves lots of "backlash" and postpone the expected public inquiry until they go out or by the end of the tournament. While fans may desire the rare duo of beautiful football and tournament success, we believe an unlikely win may bring everyone around regardless of how it is achieved.

It will be hard to see many people grumble if the Three Lions achieve significant success in Germany (by winning the title) despite "running all over the pitch bizarrely"? As such, we believe it will suffice to trust Southgate's decision at playing the underperforming Foden at “whatever” role he sees fit.

Resources:

  1. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-13538313/Micah-Richards-accuses-England-boss-Gareth-Southgate-playing-Phil-Foden-position-calls-Jude-Bellingham-sacrificed-Man-Citys-star-favourite-spot.html
  2. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2024/06/25/phil-foden-best-version-flaw-in-england-side-euros/
  3. https://www.sportbible.com/football/football-news/england-phil-foden-euro-2024-girlfriend-child-035051-2024062
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