People like Roy Keane and Jose Mourinho have pointed fingers at Gareth Southgate for not selecting the senior pros for the penalty shootout.
The manager has done very little wrong during the European Championship but it’s safe to say that Gareth Southgate got most of his tactics wrong against Italy on Sunday
Firstly, he named five defensive players in his starting XI against a team like Italy and then he decided to sit on that slender 1-0 lead rather than trying to add a cushion goal. To add to those woes, the 50-year-old clearly chose the wrong people for the penalty shootout.
But while most of the experts have criticized the Three Lions boss, Gary Neville is one of the rare ones who has tried to find logic behind Southgate’s choices.
Gary Neville told Sky Sports: “I have been to eight major tournaments and I have been knocked out on penalties five times.
“I have seen it all. I have seen the one where the hero stands up and says, ‘I want to take one,’ when actually, I’m thinking, ‘I don’t really want you to take one!’
“Italy had an absolutely brilliant goalkeeper who was always going to save some of those penalties. He was outstanding.
“The people who take penalties in my mind should be the people who are most confident about putting the ball in the back of the net, who have a history of putting the ball in the back of the net in those situations.
“You cannot recreate it in training but you can have a comfort about doing it, you can be a better striker of a ball than others. I have got no doubt that Gareth and his staff will have done everything possible to have chosen those five penalty-takers. Those five were planned to stand up.
“Raheem Sterling, if we are honest, is not a great striker of a football. His finishing can be quite scruffy. Jack Grealish has not taken a penalty for his club in two years and there will be a reason for that.
Kalvin Phillips ran 83km at the Euros. His last run in the tournament was through the Italy players and staff as they celebrated to be the first to comfort Bukayo Saka.
What a teammate. pic.twitter.com/FeA0ttDioC
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 12, 2021
“The manager will have looked at everything in fine detail – he’s got so much so right but sometimes it just does not work out.”
Bringing Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford on just to take the spot-kick was a major gamble in itself and to make matters worse, the manager handed the final kick to a 19-year-old Bukayo Saka.
While we can understand that a lot of thought had gone into selecting the five players for the penalty shootout but someone like Saka should have gone first or maybe second.
Harry Kane and Harry Maguire were the first two penalty takers but given the experience and command, they hold in the England squad one of them should have been kept for the final kick.