The England manager considered the “life of the mind.” ‘The job,’ explained Gareth Southgate, ‘is not just to have a philosophy, the job is to win matches.
‘So you can have a philosophy, but if you’re going home at the start of the tournament, that philosophy doesn’t wash. With the national team you’ve got to keep winning.’
You can think of it in another way. Reading visited Old Trafford twice in 2007 – one in the FA Cup and the other in league play. Both times, they got a draw. They played 17 minutes of the league match against a team that included Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney.
Gareth Southgate must have a plan in place to stop Kylian Mbappe, the star man, from going against France
Steve Coppell, manager, had to run quickly and Wally Downes was given press duties.
Coppell is known for his dry wit. Southgate knows Southgate well from their time at Crystal Palace. Downes is less likely to take prisoner.
‘You seemed to have a specific plan from the start?’ said the first questioner, admiringly. ‘Yes,’ deadpanned Downes. ‘Try coming here without one.’
And that’s the crux of it really. What was Reading doing at Old Trafford You have a go, then we’ll have a go? It’s the same for England, France, and Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe is one of those players that must be accounted for. It doesn’t mean betraying the strengths or beliefs of your team, or at least it shouldn’t.
Kylian Mbappe was the star of World Cup 2022 has already scored five goals
It doesn’t mean forgetting England are capable of hurting France, too, as they are. France is a nation of talent and arguably the best player in this arena. World Cup, which includes Lionel Messi. It would be arrogant and negligent to not acknowledge this fact. England doesn’t want to get into a chuckleheaded exchange of blows.
Las Vegas saw a new sport emerge last month. The Power Slap League does just what it says. The two opponents face each other and each one takes turns slapping their opponent with an open hand. There is no defence, only offence, and many are doubting the Nevada state athletic commission’s sanity for allowing such overt violence.
Arguments are that there will be earplugs, mouthguards and rules for which part of the face can strike. However, there have been cases of concussions and slappers falling into unconsciousness. ‘It’s what you’d get if you let 13-year-old boys invent a sport,’ wrote one observer. ‘You might as well kick each other in the nuts,’ argued USA Today.
But there will be people who argue that England should power-slap or even nut kick Mbappe. Bukayo Saka gives it a try. Kick, Mbappe. That strategy has only one winner. Mbappe will walk into the England team; Mbappe will walk into any team. World Cup. Strategy is key.
Kyle Walker was selected as the man who can keep up to Kylian Mbappe’s speed.
Pep Guardiola’s team will be the most difficult to beat. That doesn’t mean they cannot be beaten. It only means that the opposition must find a different way.
It is an irony, too, that with Southgate accused of negativity for so long, now it seems likely he will take a gamble, he may end up accused of being too cavalier if England lose playing a conventional back four, with no extra provision for the player on France’s left. Those who urge England to get on top of things will quickly disappear without sharing any responsibility if it fails.
Equally, if Southgate addresses the threat of Mbappe without success, it will be imagined a more daring England would have swept Didier Deschamps’s team off the park. He Only wins if he wins.
Just as when Marcus Rashford was omitted against Senegal, Southgate’s critics presupposed disaster, so it will be that, if defeated, every call will be repurposed as a gift to France.
There was talk of Mbappe’s double-up by playing both Kyle Walker & Kieran Trippier on Saturday
What’s the point of doubling Mbappe and Kieran Trippier outside Kyle Walker. Here goes: Trippier, who can also attack and puts in a good cross, has the most defensive smarts of Southgate’s options. He They will be there not to confront the player, but to cut off his supply lines.
When this process fails — as it will on occasions because France are no mugs — then Walker meets him one on one, and Trippier recovers to take him on if he cuts inside, on his favoured right foot. If he chooses to go outside Walker, then it is hoped England’s quickest full back can meet that challenge with a yard start.
So why Trippier, and not Saka who is more forward-facing and has less experience at the wing-back? Trippier is simply a reinforcement of the defensive side.
While it is true that England has made it this far with a 4-3-3, it is still a significant increase in class. Against an XI of as high-level as France, it almost always returns to 4-5-1.
England has nothing to worry after their victory over Senegal during their last-16 match
Why not start the player who is more proficient in that system. Trippier is smart enough to join the attack in the 4-3-3 form, and Jordan Henderson & Declan Rice are experienced enough to know when it is happening and drift over to cut the path to Mbappe in case of a counter-attack.
It doesn’t even mean dropping Saka, it just means choosing between him and Foden at the start of this one match.
Some will argue that this talk is negative and that it gives France the psychological edge. Southgate changing his strategy and shape will signal that he is afraid and set a poor tone.
Many Southgate fans will argue that Southgate is negative if he changes his strategy and shape.
That’s not true. Some matches and challenges are just different. Sir Alex Ferguson was not hesitant to select a team for a particular fixture. Darren Fletcher told him he would tell Ferguson to take a break for a few weeks so he could think about Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. He That day, a team would be required. Ferguson was not afraid to create a team for a single day.
It was all about winning. Southgate is aware of this too. He According to most, he has been able to predict who and how he will play since Monday. He spoke yesterday with enough pragmatism to show that he is aware that there will be no benefit to not making a plan for Mbappe.
Gareth Southgate will have to make big calls in the quarter-final clash against France.
‘You’ve got to recognise states and stages of games,’ he said. ‘You can’t, against a team of France’s level, just go out and play and not have any preparation for what they’re doing. But also we can’t overdo that. We’ve got strengths ourselves and want to make sure we keep accentuating those.
‘Usually, if we change shape it’s for a tactical problem rather than an individual. France has an outstanding player. You need extra bodies around that player. We’ve got a player who can deal with that as well as anybody but it can’t be just his responsibility. You’ve got to have zonal coverage and we can’t let Antoine Griezmann have the run of the park because he’s pretty good himself.
‘I know people think I have a preference for a certain system, but if anything my preference has always been 4-3-3. I just don’t think it’s always been appropriate for us to play that and get the best out of the team. We prepare the team to play the positions and patterns that we see. But, equally, we’re doing that at the other end of the pitch as well.’
England’s standout performers at this year’s Olympics included a number of notable performers World Cup in Qatar
And there’s the dilemma. Trippier could not score Saka’s third goal against Senegal — the Messi-like dink over the goalkeeper — because he wouldn’t get in that position. Walker and Tripper would be equally appropriate in selecting the pair of players that will best control Mbappe during 90 minutes.
There are eight goal scorers at this. World Cup to France’s three, three clean sheets to France’s none.
Yet here’s how a continuance of those ambitions might be best served: Mbappe against Walker and Trippier: 424 minutes, just one goal. It could be a plan.