England’s latest international break was once again marred by the bad behaviour of some players off the pitch.
Following the 1-0 win over Iceland, reports emerged that youngsters Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood broke the ‘social bubble’ by inviting two local girls back to their hotel room, breaking COVID-19 regulations.
After the reports came out and footage was released, England manager Gareth Southgate reprimanded the two players by sending them home from their debut squad before the Denmark game. England went on to draw the game with Denmark 0-0, with Southgate’s team selection drawing criticism from fans and media.
Since that result though, Southgate has blamed the team selection on the discipline problems claiming that defeat or defensive frailities would have just drawn more attention to the squad. He’s also spoken publicly about ‘punishing’ both players by not considering them for selection for the next squad too.
This reeks of England mismanaging young talent once again and making the senior side a place where top players can’t prosper. Much like they did with David Beckham and Wayne Rooney before him, Raheem Sterling was a victim of something similar in the past. As young players, all these guys made mistakes and were punished for them but they were then made part of a witch hunt in the press.
They were actively scapegoated for bad team performances, off-field life became everyday news for them and they were constantly spoken about in a negative way.
With Southgate, he had seemingly rid the squad of that negativity. The squad was in unison for off-field issues such as racism and social justice and had become a very likeable group for the fans and media.
The introduction of these new members of the squad was bound to bring in some changes, simply because they’re new. New footballers, new mentalities but also – they’re kids.
Mason Greenwood is barely 18 and Phil Foden is 20. They’re still growing up. They made a mistake, everyone knows that. They’ve apologised to the squad, to the manager and publicly to the fans and public. They are sorry.
They’ve been punished already, they were sent home. They missed the game vs Denmark and missed the chance to make a positive mark on the squad. Their first time with the senior team is forever stained, that is punishment enough. By leaving them out of the next squad is essentially a double punishment, but also effectively a four-game ban. It’s unnecessary.
Bring them back into the fold and move on. They’re so talented, it’s quite clear they are the future of this country in football. They are your next Wayne Rooney and David Beckham in terms of profile. They are the golden ducks in this generation. The longer Southgate and the media make it a thing, the longer it carries on for.
It’s time to start backing the national team and their players, instead of building them up just to tear them down at the first sign of trouble.