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Gareth Southgate’s Unpopular Path

The 2024 European Cup which will take place in Germany is just a few days away (June 14 – July 14, 2024). According to the established policy, each national team participating in the 4-yearly event must have entered the names of the players by June 7, 2024.

The England national team is one of the countries that has confirmed the names of 26 players who will be involved in the 2024 European Cup. England national team coach, Gareth Southgate, conducted a fairly strict selection and is considered “unpopular”.

No half measures, of the 26 players brought by Southgate to Germany, there were 13 players who were included in the 2022 World Cup squad who were not called and failed the final selection. As a consequence, the face of the England squad at the 2024 European Cup looks newer.

It is noted that there are several young players called by Southgate such as Kobbie Mainoo (Manchester United/ 19 years old), Cole Palmer (Chelsea/22 years old), and Adam Wharton (Blackburn Rovers/20 years old).

Southgate’s selection is nothing new. It has been read since the English coach coached the team nicknamed “Three Lions” in 2016. Southgate did not hesitate to not call young players and sideline players who in the general opinion were qualified.

This was proven in the temporary player selection for the 2024 European Cup. Of the 33 players selected, the name of star player Marcus Rashford was not included.

Gareth Southgate’s main reason was because there was a player who played in Rashford’s position who performed more convincingly in the 2023/24 season. Rashford, who defends MU, did not appear so convincing this season when compared to Phil Foden who was the best player in the Premier League this season.

In addition to Rashford, Southgate also did not call Jadon Sancho who has found his best form again since being loaned from Manchester United to Borussia Dortmund in January. Sancho’s revival which helped Dortmund reach the 2024 Champions League final was not enough to convince Southgate.

Also, Southgate did not include Raheem Sterling. The player who plays for Chelsea seems to be less shining than his teammate, Cole Palmer who has not been promoted to the senior England national team and even made it to the final selection of 26 players for the 2024 European Cup.

Of course, Southgate’s move can be said to be “unpopular.” Usually, not a few coaches tend to make player selections based on popularity factors and the clubs they play for without considering the player’s performance during a season.

On the other hand, Southgate took an unpopular path. Southgate did not hesitate to sideline big-name players, and they were seen performing regularly in the national team and even at the clubs they played for. This was again evident in the final selection of the England national team squad before leaving for Germany.

From the final selection, Southgate again made an unpopular decision. Three star players are left feeling frustrated because Southgate did not include them in the main squad for Germany.

Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), and Jadon Maddison (Tottenham Hotspur) are three players who were not included in Southgate’s final selection for Germany.

From a layman’s perspective, the three players have already earned a “name” in the England national team and the Premier League. However, Southgate has a different approach in honing his players.

Grealish has not been very fit this season with Man City. The most expensive player at Man City has often been plagued by injury problems.

The same is true for Maddison who was absent for a long time with Tottenham. Meanwhile, Maguire suffered an injury towards the end of this season which made the MU defender not play in the FA Cup.

It seems that Southgate prefers players who are fitter and physically ready to appear and consistently play with the team they have defended for a season.

Southgate took an unpopular path in matters of England’s national team selection. Southgate’s path had a certain effect, where the England national team’s game was more stable and consistent.

In fact, Southgate was able to lead England to the European Cup final four years ago, but only lost on penalties to Italy. This time, England is again a favorite not because of the popularity of the players, but because of England’s track record in Southgate’s hands.

It was different before Southgate came as a coach. The England national team tended to be filled with popular star players.

In fact, behind that, the tendency of the England national team as a celebrity team because the style of the players is accompanied by the spotlight on their life partners (wives/girlfriends) in every tournament.

Since Southgate coached the England national team, that lifestyle has slowly been removed. Southgate is more oriented towards the quality of the team’s game than the glamorous lives of the players off the field.

Southgate’s unpopular selection of players playing in the 2024 European Cup could be one of the keys to England coming to Germany in vain. The players brought by Southgate are a group of players who have performed consistently throughout the season and they are ready to continue that trend at Euro 2024.


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