A solution to England's biggest problem

A solution to England's biggest problem

27/06/24 09:48

Euro 2008 semi finalist Colin Kazim-Richards has revealed the key difference between club management and international management, and with it revealed a crucial short-coming in the current England line-up.

In an exclusive interview with Football Park, Kazim-Richards pointed out the short preparation time a national team coach has before fixtures, comparing it with the months-long seasons and pre-season periods that most club coaches receive.

“For me this is the difference," said Kazim-Richards. “You know how sometimes in club football the manager can kind of test things out, experiment? In international football you need to make the best 11, and they play. Team selection is very important, and trying to fit everybody in doesn’t work. Whoever needs to play, plays.”

While it may appear harsh on members of the squad are who given few or no minutes on the field, Kazim-Richards enforced that the game on an international level is a cut-throat business

“That's the prestige of being able to play for your national team: not everybody can.”

There are multiple prime examples of this in the current England squad, who advanced to the round of 16 after Italy’s draw with Croatia.

Players such as Ollie Watkins, Adam Wharton and Lewis Dunk, who had stellar seasons for their clubs in the Premier league, simply haven’t been able to get considerable minutes under their belts at international level as they don’t fit the system that Gareth Southgate predominantly plays with.

Factors affecting this could be lack of experience in the case of Wharton, or better/more reliable options in a chosen position, as is the case with Watkins (who has the unenviable task of trying to bench Harry Kane) and Dunk (who has more modern center backs Marc Guehi and John Stones ahead of him in the pecking order).

It can sometimes even be a case of a bigger name receiving playing time in an unfamiliar position over a player who may not have the same star power, but can do a better job in that position. This is something Anthony Gordon knows all too well with Phil Foden taking his position on the left despite a lack of familiarity in playing there.

Kazim-Richards dived into the short-comings of what Southgate perceives as “England’s best 11”: “Why try fitting people in, in positions they haven’t played all year? Phil Foden is a top three player in the Prem right now. But why are we playing Foden on the left?”

“Foden on the left is not Phil Foden. So what somebody, who is supposed to play on the left, can give you, is probably more than what Foden can give you from playing off the left.”

Foden left the England training camp yesterday after it was revealed he returned to the UK to be present for the birth of his third child, so an opportunity may emerge for Anthony Gordon by the time England’s round of 16 game against Slovakia rolls around on Sunday.

“Playing people in their best positions to get the best out of them. You have to do that (at international level),” said Kazim-Richards. “In international football, especially tournament based, you don’t really have the time to do that (play Foden out of position).”

Benji Kosartiyer
Harry Pascoe

Football Writer


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