Gareth Southgate raised some eyebrows with his 26-man England squad for the World Cup in Qatar, with several questionable choices.
England will face Iran, USA and Wales in group B of the World Cup, as they continue their quest for their first international trophy since winning the world cup in 1966.
After a disastrous nations league campaign that saw England relegated to League B, Southgate in under pressure to deliver in this tournament, which could be his last as England manager.
In a highly anticipated announcement with competition for places highly debated in recent weeks, the likes of Harry Maguire, Kalvin Phillips and Conor Gallagher all made the squad, despite not being first choice for their clubs this season.
Among those to miss out on selection are Jadon Sancho, Fikayo Tomori, Ivan Toney, Tammy Abraham, Jared Bowen, Joe Gomez and James Ward-Prowse.
— England (@England) November 10, 2022
Reputation Over Form?
While some selections would have kept up Gareth Southgate at night, Tomori is one player that can find himself desperately unlucky not to be included.
Since leaving Chelsea in 2021 and moving to AC Milan, Tomori has been a key part of their side has they won their first Serie A title in over a decade. Aside from John Stones, Tomori has been the in form centre back from England.
The 24-year-old is quicker than all the centre backs included in the squad, while he is also comfortable playing out from the back, an area that Maguire has been exposed in.
For Gareth Southgate and England, it is another story of using the same methods and expecting different results. The inclusion of Harry Maguire has sent a message that recent from clearly hasn’t been under consideration leading into today’s announcement. His loyalty to Maguire, hasn't gone unnoticed, and could cost England dearly.
Southgate saying Abraham has missed out purely because he lost form at the wrong time is pretty laughable really, considering he's taking Maguire over Tomori.
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) November 10, 2022
After some diabolical performances for Manchester United, Maguire was dropped by Erik Ten Hag, as the centre-back partnership of Raphel Varane and Lisandro Martinez have made Manchester United far more solid defensively.
Clearly the club’s fourth choice centre-back behind Victor Lindelöf, Maguire will be under huge pressure to cut out his errors that has seen him dropped from Manchester United.
🗣 "He's one of our best centre-backs."
Gareth Southgate on Harry Maguire's inclusion in the England squad pic.twitter.com/FaNI1EJyQC
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) November 10, 2022
There’s no doubt that Maguire has delivered for England in the past. His performances in the 2018 World Cup saw him attract interest from Manchester United, while he was named in the team of the tournament in Euro 2020. However, Maguire’s form, and indeed confidence, is a shadow of that player.
Lack Of Playing Time
Playing time for some players in the squad will be a huge issue for England, particularly in midfield, where Conor Gallagher and Kalvin Philips will be short of minutes going into the world cup.
Despite starring on loan for Crystal Palace last season, Gallagher has failed to cement a place in Chelsea’s starting line-up this season. His Chelsea team-mate Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who was included in the 2018 squad, could consider himself unlucky not to make the squad, especially with his versatility.
Kalvin Phillips lack of game fitness is also a concerns, having only made his first appearance of the season in Manchester City’s 2-0 victory over Chelsea last night. There’s no doubting his quality, but to play games in quick succession just after recovering from a serious injury could backfire on South gate.
With Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham set to start together in the World Cup, Southgate will be hoping both players will leave the pitch this weekend without a scratch as resources in this area are an issue.