England is set to face Australia in a friendly match this Friday, followed by a Euro2024 qualifier against Italy the subsequent Tuesday.
However, the spotlight isn’t so much on the matches but on the England manager, Gareth Southgate, and his controversial squad selection.
While Southgate has largely evaded harsh media scrutiny, a luxury not afforded to some of his predecessors, the tide seems to be turning.
One of the notable critics is Gary Lineker, who voiced his concerns on “The Rest is Football Podcast”.
He expressed surprise at some of Southgate’s choices, particularly the exclusion of Raheem Sterling, who has been in commendable form.
“He’s always been brilliant for Gareth Southgate,” Lineker commented.
Additionally, he mentioned that while players like Sterling are excluded, others, like Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips, have retained their spots despite challenges at the club level.
The decision to leave out Ward-Prowse also raised eyebrows.
Lineker’s perspective can’t be brushed aside, given the absence of a logical explanation for sidelining players like Sterling and Ward-Prowse in favour of those who are either injured or not active in their club teams.
Southgate’s open communication style and his past tendency to choose players based on current form rather than past reputation had earned him much respect.
However, the current discontent suggests that Southgate’s honeymoon period with the media may be waning.
With Euro2024 nearing, the stakes are high for Southgate. It’s imperative that he makes the right decisions to help England succeed, something they haven’t experienced since the iconic win in 1966.