Gary Neville has made it clear that England manager Gareth Southgate won’t start Arsenal and Liverpool duo Bukayo Saka and Trent Alexander-Arnold, alongside Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Phil Foden at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The TV pundit, who is working out in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, thinks fans and the media would want those attack-minded players to start, but he feels Southgate doesn’t think that’s the way to win a major tournament, as he told beIN SPORTS (20/11/22 at 6:50 pm).
Saka has been flying in Arsenal colours this season and there aren’t many England players, other than the likes of James Maddison and Harry Kane, who are in such top form.
The same can’t be said for Liverpool right-back Alexander-Arnold, who hasn’t been able to transcend his success from the Premier League stage into the colours of his country during these past few years.
It’s not also helped by the fact that he has been bang out of form this season, as Neville sounded a warning to those more attack-minded players ahead of England’s World Cup opener against Iran.
“I think Gareth (Southgate) has studied tournaments and how you win tournaments through defensive solidity and set-pieces,” said Neville.
“I think he has studied that a lot. I think he is the most knowledgeable coach around tournaments. I think he has had bad experiences. I think he has recognised those two things have been critical. That’s how England have got to semi-finals and finals.
“The media and the fans in the country want him to play Trent Alexander-Arnold. They want him to play Grealish, Maddison and Foden. They want him to play Saka as well. They want him to open up.
“He won’t do that. I don’t think he feels we can out-football the best teams when we get into the knockout stages. The pathway for us looks like we will have Senegal or Holland in the second round, then France potentially in the quarter-finals. I think he feels like he can get past those teams through solidity.”