England fans are furious with Gareth Southgate’s starting XI for the UEFA Nations League clash against Italy at the San Siro in Milan tonight (September 23).
The Three Lions are bottom of their group and face relegation from League A if they don’t beat the Azzurri tonight. Southgate have drawn two of their previous four games and lost the other two. They played a goalless draw against the Azzurri in the second leg in September.
Southgate apparently chose a back three for the clash, with Nick Pope in goal. Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire and the return of Eric Dier in defense. Reece James and Bukayo Saka are expected to be the right and left-backs respectively. Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice could start in midfield. Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and captain Harry Kane form the top three.
However, fans are unhappy with England’s roster, with some calling for Southgate to be sacked if they don’t win. They took to Twitter to share their frustration.
Here are some of their reactions:
England manager Gareth Southgate backs Harry Maguire
Harry Maguire has been the subject of immense criticism since the start of the 2021-22 season. His performances for Manchester United were often error-prone or nonchalant.
Maguire has been demoted to the bench under new United manager Erik ten Hag this season. He has started just three games this season, with United losing all three.
However, Southgate backed the England international, saying (via The Guardian):
“Obviously it’s not an ideal situation (with Maguire). We’re only a few weeks into pre-season so physically if they’ve had a couple of 90 minutes it’s fine. Seven more to go. eight weeks, it’s starting to get complicated. But he’s an important player for us, and it’s important to support our best players. Whatever my reputation, I put it in there.”
He praised Maguire and John Stones’ ability on the ball and in the air, saying:
“He’s our most dominant aerial centre-back. He and John (Stones) are amazing with the ball – the pressure they’ve been under for the team in tournaments because we don’t always have that pivot player in the middle that can take the game forward. That means there’s a lot more pressure on our centre-backs to use the ball well, and those two are as good as any football in the world for the TO DO.
Stones is suspended for the game against Italy after being shown a red card in England’s embarrassing 4-0 loss to Hungary in September.