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David Seaman: Mainoo must start England’s next game

26 Jun | BY David Seaman | MIN READ TIME |
David Seaman: Mainoo must start England’s next game

The former England goalkeeper reflects on Tuesday’s draw with Slovenia and picks out the team he’s been most impressed with at Euro 2024.

Another frustrating game for England. We had already qualified so you’d have thought the pressure would be off, but we started the game so nervily. We couldn’t even pass it to each other properly, with balls bouncing around instead of being played along the ground.

Jude Bellingham has been quiet for the last two games. I don’t know if it’s because a lot of his space is being taken away with Phil Foden coming in off the left, but he’s just not getting on the ball enough. It’s not just him, though. Harry Kane looks rusty, and Bukayo Saka had a quiet night as well.

Conor Gallagher came into the team and struggled, and although it’s not easy coming in for matches like this, Kobbie Mainoo took his place and looked so comfortable. I said in my previous blog that I’d have started him. He’s only 19 but he plays with so much composure on the ball. For me, Mainoo is a definite starter for the next game as those 45 minutes underlined everything we knew about him.

Anthony Gordon also came on and really hugged the left touchline. It just showed that Foden coming inside all the time causes us other problems, and we’re not getting that width we need. It must be hard because Phil obviously wants to get involved in the play, but we really need that width. Cole Palmer also came on and looked brilliant. He just went out there and played his game, and looked positive even though he didn’t get much playing time. It was refreshing seeing those two on the pitch after the previous 80 minutes.

It’s hard to see who you would leave out for Gordon or Palmer, though, so the only change I would make for now is Mainoo to come in for Gallagher. This team hasn’t been beaten yet. The three teams we’ve played so far have all played in a low block – or defended deep, as we called it when I played! I think it will help when teams come on and try to attack us.

There are good things in there, but it has got to get much better. Otherwise, we had better start practicing penalties!

Southgate deserves respect

If you sat our players down and asked them for a mark out of 10 for the last three games, they would all probably be around a 6. That’s not a negative, but they can play so much better and that’s where the negativity is coming from with the fans.

Gareth had some empty cups thrown at him after the game and he doesn’t deserve that. The standards that the fans are expecting are all thanks to him and his players. It’s not going well at this moment, but we’ve had some fantastic times under Gareth and the fans should respect that.

We experienced a lot of negativity back in 1996, with Gazza and the dentist’s chair incident. In those situations, you close ranks as a team. When pundits and media people have a go at players, it makes it worse. They don’t get relaxed interviews anymore because the players are on guard.

I find it really difficult to have a go at players, because I’ve been in that situation before where ex-players have had a go at me, and I would never forget when it felt like a personal attack. The criticism is understandable because we can play so much better, but we need a reality check – we’ve just finished top of the group.

Spain impressive as France falter

The positive is that England are on what looks like the easier side of the draw. We could be shaping up to see Spain v Germany and France v Portugal in the quarter-finals, which would be brilliant. It’s great when you know two of the big teams are going out.

As much as we complain about England, France haven’t topped their group and the only goals they’ve scored so far have been an own goal and a penalty.  It just shows you that it doesn’t always go to plan. I’m sure France will kick on and we will too.

If I had to put money on any team at this point, I’d go for Spain. I’ve been impressed with them defensively and with the way that they have attacked. Their build-up play is so positive, it’s quick, one and two-touch football like Arsene Wenger used to preach to us.

I was pleased to see David Raya get a start for them and he looked as though he’d been playing there for years. When a team has confidence like that, players come in and feel they can express themselves.

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David Seaman

David Seaman

Legendary goalkeeper who won three league titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal, and made 75 England appearances.

David Seaman

David Seaman

Legendary goalkeeper who won three league titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal, and made 75 England appearances.