After England’s disappointing international break of Nations League action against Iceland and Denmark, it’s become glaringly obvious that Gareth Southgate’s agenda against both Aston Villa Football Club and Jack Grealish is making success for the national team somewhat problematic.
Receiving his call up very late due to Marcus Rashford and Harry Winks departure from the squad due to injury tells you everything you need to know about Southgate’s feelings towards Jack.
Especially after calling up Maitland-Niles ahead of Grealish. The decision to include Jack in the squad was to manage the backlash received not only from Villa fans, but from fans of all clubs around England.
After an incredibly successful season, captaining his boyhood club to Premier League survival, scoring eight goals and assisting six, whilst also creating the second-highest amount of chances in the league, Jack’s proved he is more than capable of performing at the pinnacle of English football – one thing is clear, Gareth Southgate has a personal agenda against super Jack.
England stumbled upon a win thanks to a late penalty against Iceland in a game that was devoid of any flair or creativity. A flat midfield which consisted of Declan Rice and James Ward-Prowse alongside Phil Foden offered absolutely nothing against an Iceland midfield which hardly set the world alight.
Despite the obvious lack of flair and energy in the midfield, Southgate decided to pair Rice in a midfield two with Kalvin Phillips, whilst also deploying a back three which consisted of Eric Dier, Connor Coady and Joe Gomez – a tactical which is questionable to say the least, to deploy against Denmark.
Effectively, playing two sitters whilst operating with a back five with no naturally left-footed player, makes you wonder what Southgate’s issue is with Tyrone Mings and Grealish. Especially when he opted to play Dier, a right-footed central midfielder at left centre-back.
Upon the Premier League’s return, Villa only conceded 11 goals and did very well to restrict their opposition during Project Restart – Mings was vital to this.
Before this, Villa had conceded 56 goals, improving themselves defensively is one of the contributing factors as to why Villa avoided relegation. With Tyrone being a left-footed defender, it’s surely a no brainer that he starts for England… especially as he was the only left-footed defender that Southgate brought with him.
In the fourteen minutes Grealish managed against Denmark, he made an instant impact and offered a dynamic which no other midfielder possesses.
Jack’s ability to carry the ball, draw players in and win fouls is so unique – this mesmerizing ability saw Grealish charge into the Denmark box and ultimately lose possession. As the saying goes, if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win the raffle.
In his short time on the pitch, Grealish created more chances than Jadon Sancho, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Harry Kane combined… only Trent Alexander-Arnold created more chances than Jack throughout the whole game.
Adding both Mings and Grealish to England’s line-up will not only add balance, but provide the much-needed flair and unpredictability that England have lacked for years.
Watching England shouldn’t be a chore, we should be gone from the days of watching boring wingers such as Andros Townsend and laborious midfielders in the form of Eric Dier.
Watching England should be about watching Paul Gascoigne’s goal vs Scotland in Euro 96, David Beckham’s freekick against Greece and watching Jack Grealish run the show at Euro 2021…
About the Author
Dan Morgan is an Aston Villa season ticket holder and follows the team home and away.
An aspiring sports journalist and football writer, he hosts Heart of the Holte’s podcast ‘The Villa Filler’ as well as writing and editing for Heart of the Holte.
You can follow Dan on Twitter at @danmorgi34
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