Gareth Southgate’s ruthless approach to England’s Euro 2024 squad proves he’s eager to go out with a bang


Gareth Southgate recently announced his provisional squad for the 2024 European Championship. This will be Southgate’s last throw of the dice, with the Three Lions’ manager moving on from his position after the Euros.

This is the most cutthroat the 53-year-old has been when selecting a squad ahead of a major tournament, with many familiar faces missing out before the final squad has even been confirmed.

Jordan Henderson should have played his last game for England a long time ago in the eyes of many fans, but Southgate has persisted with him, starting him in tournament matches as recently as the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup.

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Henderson moved to Ajax in January after struggling to settle into his life in Saudi Arabia. Ajax finished fifth in the Eredivisie, which is hugely underwhelming for a club who are the biggest in Holland. Henderson has rightfully been dropped from the England squad but, nevertheless, it did come as a surprise after how stubborn Southgate has been with picking the ex-Liverpool captain during his tenure.

Marcus Rashford was another surprise omission from the squad but, again, Southgate has done the right thing in dropping him to accommodate players who have been leaps and bounds ahead of the Manchester United man this season. Anthony Gordon has recently broken into the squad and it is good to see Southgate picking players in form ahead of big names who haven’t looked at the races this season. While it is out of character for Southgate to drop experienced players ahead of tournaments, it perhaps shows that there is no time for sentiment ahead of his last tournament as England manager.

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Reece James missed out due to injury. A fully-fit season would’ve undoubtedly seen the right-back journeying to Germany and it is starting to look like his career will be blighted by continuous injuries.

Kalvin Phillips, despite being rated highly in the past by Southgate, was expectedly dropped from the last England squad so he didn’t really have any chance of making this one. He again is another who, despite good performances for England in the last Euros, hasn’t done anywhere near enough to merit a position in a squad with the likes of Eberechi Eze, Conor Gallagher and Kobbie Mainoo showing themselves to be better options at present.

Gareth Southgate has come under a significant amount of criticism from England fans in the past. Sometimes it becomes difficult not to feel that he deserves more credit, as the first man to lead England to a major final since Sir Alf Ramsay in 1966. Southgate’s England side were a penalty shoot-out away from lifting the trophy at the last European Championship and are being tipped by many to go one step further and be the victors on German soil this time around. Many fans who previously struggled to place any trust in the Three Lions manager will be encouraged with the positive and bold moves Southgate is already making.

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Despite having a strong set of players at his disposal, winning an international tournament is very difficult and tends to come down to fine margins. With France looking strong, and with Germany playing on their own patch, the competition is stern. If Southgate is able to prove the doubters wrong and clinch silverware at the end of his reign, it would go down as one of the biggest successes in the history of the English game.

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