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England’s hope-crushing and dream-dashing is delayed by a week | Soccer

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The last time an England manager picked a provisional squad for the Euros, Danny Drinkwater, Fabian Delph and Andros Townsend were the unlucky trio to have the tantalising prospect of representing their country at a major tournament dangled in front of them, only to be left waving tearfully from the departures lounge as Mr Roy and his final 23 jetted off for France. One imagines their crushing disappointment at being overlooked was soon replaced by an overwhelming sense of relief that they remained untainted by association with the absolute shambles selected ahead of them, as they surfed through the group stages on the usual wave of misplaced jingoism, media-cheerleading and over-confidence only to be eliminated in the first knockout round by a sparsely populated North Atlantic rock.

Allowed to choose 26 players for this summer’s transcontinental jamboree, Gareth Southgate could have spared himself the ordeal of having to engage in any last-minute Mr Roy-style hope-crushing and dream-dashing, but has instead added “Provoke fan and media outrage over next week’s omissions” to his To Do list. Factoring in various knack concerns and the fact a sizeable English contingent is preparing for this week’s Big Vase and Big Cup finals, the man in the woollen waistcoat has named a provisional squad of 33 players which will be trimmed and announced this day next week. Already, there are notable omissions, with Eric Dier, Danny Ings, James Maddison, Patrick Bamford, Tammy Abraham and the knee-knacked Nick Pope missing out.

“Our preference was to name the 26, but we have not got an ideal hand of cards,” teased Southgate. “A lot of unknowns. Info and evidence are very important and we will have a lot more in the next seven days.” Trent Alexander-Arnold was foremost among Southgate’s more conspicuous inclusions, the contentious dropping of the Liverpool right-back having been the subject of much socially-distanced debate ahead of England’s last outing. His fellow defenders Bens White and Godfrey are among four uncapped players picked, along with recently relegated goalkeepers Aaron Ramsdale and Sam Johnstone, at least one of whom looks destined for some quick-fire double disappointment.

“There are too many question marks today,” sighed Southgate, presumably upon being asked for his thoughts on the current state of punctuation. “It will become far clearer. We have got good contingencies in place – a nice balance with young players. If they’re with us for one week or five weeks, it will be a brilliant experience. We’re building towards a hugely exciting summer. We have to build a team who can win.” A nation expects; nothing can go wrong now.

Provisional squad: Henderson (Manchester United), Johnstone (West Brom), Pickford (Everton), Ramsdale (Sheffield United); Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Chilwell (Chelsea), Coady (Wolves), Godfrey (Everton), James (Chelsea), Maguire (Manchester United), Mings (Aston Villa), Shaw (Manchester United), Stones (Manchester City), Trippier (Atlético Madrid), Walker (Tottenham), White (Brighton); Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Henderson (Liverpool), Lingard (Manchester United), Mount (Chelsea), Phillips (Leeds), Rice (West Ham), Morris-Dancing Fiver (Fiver Towers), Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Foden (Manchester City), Grealish (Aston Villa), Greenwood (Manchester United), Kane (Tottenham), Rashford (Manchester United), Saka (Arsenal), Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Sterling (Manchester City), Watkins (Aston Villa).

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It was like I lost the final. It’s hard. You can’t get it out of your head. You look at the paper, at social media [disgraces] – I don’t usually pay much attention to social media [disgraces] because it’s all so false – and read things. ‘Alberto, Alberto, Alberto, Alberto.’ I’ll go to my grave not understanding why I got all the blame” – Villarreal’s Alberto Moreno gets his chat on with Sid Lowe and reveals he’s still smarting from the pelters he received after Liverpool’s 2016 Big Vase defeat to Sevilla.

RECOMMENDED LOOKING

David Squires on … the end of this season’s Premier League. You can get your own copy here.

Here you go.
Here you go. Illustration: David Squires/The Guardian

RECOMMENDED BOOKING

Tickets are available now for Football Weekly Live’s Euro Not 2020 preview special on 10 June. Get them while they’re hot.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Speaking of which, here’s the latest Football Weekly pod.

FIVER LETTERS

“Never mind Patrick Bamford and Nick Pope – the real victims of Gareth Southgate’s England squad selection are the poor, unfortunate denizens of various social media disgraces who thoroughly cancelled him for not selecting Trent Alexander-Arnold at a time when he hadn’t actually chosen his squad. Po’ trolls are a-cold!” – Jim Hearson.

“Many thanks for noticing the astounding full-minutes feat of Saints skipper James Ward-Prowse (yesterday’s Fiver). I write because the thing you didn’t note is that he did the exact same last season too. So he’s played every minute of every game for two seasons” – Joe Lowry.

“Re: Mark Bennett asking for Conference League name suggestions (yesterday’s Fiver letters). Might I offer Big Saucer, since that’s what holds all the leftovers that slop out of a Big Cup and even a Big Vase?” – Bruce Bradley.

“Might I venture Big Urn, as it surely symbolises the receptacle of the ashes of the participants’ unfulfilled European aspirations?” – Budgie Wright (and others).

“Small Vase?” – Jack Mignall (and others).

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Joe Lowry.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Hansi Flick has inked his name all over a deal to fill the Jogi Löw-shaped hole in Germany’s dugout after Euro Not 2020.

Hansi!
Hansi! Photograph: Sven Hoppe/Reuters

Real Madrid are in need of fresh legs so they’ve given Luka Modric, 87, a new one-year deal. Meanwhile, Betis skipper Joaquín, 92, has also agreed a one-year extension.

Spurs are reportedly in talks with Belgium boss Bobby M, who would probably bring positive vibes to the club but not all that lovely Belgian talent he’s been working with, unfortunately.

West Ham have snapped up teenage Reading forward and Champ Manager regen soundalike Thierry Nevers on a three-year deal.

Dundee United boss Micky Mellon is now former Dundee United boss Micky Mellon.

And Blackeye Rovers forward Ben Brereton is a maverick inclusion in Chile’s upcoming Human Rights World Cup qualifiers.

STILL WANT MORE?

Big Website hacks haven’t finished reviewing the Premier League season just yet. Here’s their best and worst of 2020-21. And if you prefer pictures to words, this review in photos by Jonny Weeks will be right up your street. We’ve also gone back over our pre-season predictions for your entertainment too.

One last go.
One last go. Composite: Getty/PA/Rex

Riyad Mahrez: from tippy-tappy timid talent to “a monster” inspiring Manchester City. By Ed Aarons.

Proper Journalism’s David Conn on how Manchester City are the ultimate model in how to build a supreme football team with mega amounts of petro-dosh.

Don’t touch Edinson Cavani because he’s a natural born winner who is too damn hot, shrieks Jamie Jackson.

Where have all New York’s foreign MLS stars gone, wonders Graham Ruthven.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

25 YEARS SINCE BIG RONNIE MAUGE!

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