Gareth Southgate has demonstrated that he will stick by players who have never failed him down, which could be a lifeline for Luke Shaw.
England will compete in the Nations League for the final time before the World Cup in November, taking on Italy and Germany. Gareth Southgate’s squad pick has undoubtedly drawn criticism from some quarters, as rivers run into the sea.
The most serious complaint this time appears to be that he chose players despite the fact that they were not performing well, if at all, for their clubs. Manchester United’s Shaw and Harry Maguire, Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, Tammy Abraham, and Jarrod Bowen have all been off of form, while Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker of Manchester City have all been injured in recent weeks. They’ve all made the squad, while Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford have not.
While grievances are natural, these complaints ignore Southgate’s efforts with England. It’s not just about players who are doing exceptionally well for their clubs; it’s about the ones who are best suited to this team, the ones who do the jobs he wants done on the field; the ones who have always delivered and led England to the semi-finals and finals of the two most recent major tournaments.
Bringing in a slew of new faces so close to the tournament would risk disrupting the squad’s equilibrium and throwing the team spirit that has been nurtured off-kilter. Now is not the time to try new things.
As a result, Shaw and Maguire are still on the team. Sancho and Rashford are still on the bench.
Both United defenders have been below par since their outstanding Euro 2020 campaigns, and their bad form has extended into the new season. They weren’t alone, but they had a major hand to play in the initial defeats to Brighton and Brentford, and United have won every game in the Premier League since their departure from the starting XI.
Tyrell Malacia, a summer acquisition who has taken to the Premier League like a hound to a bone, has displaced Shaw. In recent games, the young Dutchman has provided a much more collected and certain presence at the back, and he does not appear to be losing his place anytime soon.