Based on the argument in the current form, the decision can be argued. Not even Trent Alexander-Arnold’s biggest fan would say his start to the campaign was flawless.
Liverpool’s right-back has faced some difficulties, particularly in defeats to Manchester United and Napoli. There have been moments when the speed at which he has run back might be questioned, incidents where he has done things you have never seen him do before.
As England’s head coach, Gareth Southgate needs to pick the players he thinks are in their best form for matches and have confidence in his decisions. Selecting teams based on a person’s popularity would destroy a manager’s credibility and leave him vulnerable. Southgate won’t do that.
Gareth Southgate has dropped Trent Alexander-Arnold from his matchday squad against Germany
Alexander-Arnold arrived at Wembley with the rest of the squad but was unavailable to play
However, the problem here is much more complex.
What we saw on Monday is one of the most notable decisions regarding an England team in Southgate’s six-year reign, the kind of action you usually associate with a big player reaching the end of the road and being phased out.
If Southgate had no intention of playing Alexander-Arnold against Italy or Germany, why pick him? Had his name not been in the first party selected on September 15 his performances could have been put forward for Liverpool.
Of course, given the 23-year-old’s outstanding natural ability and potential to change a game on the fly, much would have contradicted it, but at least it could have been considered and digested before the games started.
That, in turn, is an appeal that borders on nonsense.
From a PR perspective for the Football Association, it’s a disaster. Why was the call made to release it 11 hours before kick-off so it could dominate social media, TV channels and radio stations and any interviews Southgate does before kick-off?
The Liverpool defender looked miserable as he stood on the sidelines at Wembley
Don’t think for a moment that Alexander-Arnold wasn’t hurt by being left out for this game. A quiet soul who reads Harry Potter books, plays chess and practices free-kicks, he’s dying to be the player for England he was for Liverpool.
What happened here, however, raises serious doubts as to whether Alexander-Arnold will even make it into Southgate’s squad for the World Cup. If he goes to Qatar, will he do anything other than catch up on the numbers?
If Alexander-Arnold harbors any feelings that he never got a fair crack on the whip from Southgate, they are entirely justified in the light of Monday’s events. Again, why bench him at the San Siro and leave him completely out of the picture for Germany’s visit? It’s a waste of talent and time.
Remarkable as it may seem, since August 2019 Alexander-Arnold has completed 90 minutes for England four times – Kosovo (September 2019, 5-3 win); Montenegro (November 2019, 7-0 win), Andorra (September 2021, 4-0 win) and San Marino (November 2021, 10-0 win).
To give that perspective, since August 2019, Alexander-Arnold has won the European Supercup, Club World Cup, Premier League, Carabao Cup, FA Cup, FA Community Shield and played in his third Champions League final. He’s a stunning footballer, one of rare gifts.
Alexander-Arnold has won everything with Liverpool but keeps getting left out by Southgate
For all that Southgate has to be respected for picking the team he feels is best to start with, it’s hard to see how there’s no place in a squad for someone with Alexander-Arnolds Passing repertoire can be found (44 Premier League assists since August). 2018).
Amazing that it’s only been seven weeks since Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders made a bold prediction about what winter could look like for Alexander-Arnold and the impact it could have on England.
“That’s just my opinion, but if you look at the game offensively, he’s given such a creative boost to that position in recent years,” Lijnders said as he surveyed games against Iran, Wales and the United States. ‘True or not? Just like Cafu (for Brazil) in the past.
“For me there are no limits and if you look at the game a certain way, then absolutely. But you can view the game in many different ways. I see a boy who has grown, who is still growing, and I truly believe that life has no limits. You have to stay creative, stay unpredictable.”
There was absolutely nothing foreseeable about what happened on Monday morning when the news leaked out of the camp. Southgate is unlikely to publicly close the door on Alexander-Arnold going to Qatar and will be reflected in his statements but the reality is his confidence has been hurt.
The old adage that form is temporary and class is permanent is true. Yes, Alexander-Arnold found August and September challenging but he will always be one of Liverpool’s totems. For England – certainly under this regime – it could not be otherwise. And what a shame that is.
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