|BY ALLAN SSEKAMATTE |
An irrepressible argument raging among Three Lions fans revolves around who among Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Jesse Lindgard and Jack Grealish should be an automatic starter for England during Euro 2020 finals. My humble view is that Mount’s outstanding record each time he’s deployed by Gareth Southgate; coupled with his ability to play as a deep lying playmaker, and the invaluable experience he’s accumulated in helping Chelsea to their first Champions League semifinals in nine years make him an absolute must for the starting
A season truncated by injuries means Sancho and Grealish are behind in the race for a starting slot. Lindgard’s excellent form in West Ham’s push for Champions League football implies he must get a look in.
Given a choice between Foden and Lindgard, Southgate choice should be the Manchester City starlet. There are at least four reasons Foden must start. First off, he’s a league champion who is used to handling the pressure of having to win, week in, week out.
Secondly, he’s acquired European experience in Manchester City’s march to only their second ever Champions League semifinal, plundering goals in both quarterfinal legs against Borussia Dortmund. Lindgard, Sancho and Grealish all lack similar know-how. Thirdly, he’s coached by Pep Guardiola, who is a paragon of excellence when it comes to improving players. Raheem Sterling only became an automatic England starter after extensive panel beating by Pep. Foden has undergone identical tutelage. He’s ready.
Furthermore, Spain won the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships using a core of seven Barcelona players nurtured by Pep. Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Pedro, David Villa and Carlos Puyol featured in Barcelona’s 2009 and 2011 Champions League triumphs as well as La Roja’s international successes. Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning dide also fielded seven Bayern Munich players that won three Bundesliga titles and reached two Champions League semifinals.
Manuel Neuer, Phillip Lahm, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze and Jerome Boateng were all part of the Bayern Munich brigade that powered Die Mannschaft’s success. The recurring theme in these successes is therefore Pep Guardiola tutelage and Champions League experience replicated in national team colours. The natural question to pose is: can’t England pull off a similar coup de grace using a similar template?
The only England regulars under Pep are Kyle Walker, John Stones, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden. All four should be England starters. If Southgate can fortify them with Chelsea’s Mount, Reece James and Ben Chillwell, together with Manchester United’s Harry Maguire, Dean Henderson, Marcus Rashford and Aaron Bissaka, all of whom are primed for Europa League success; he will start the Euro 2020 tournament with a battle hardened team.