Southgate’s focus on youth is exciting for English football
England play Spain in an international friendly on Saturday night. Was there anyone who didn’t make Southgate’s squad who you thought might have done?
With Jamie Vardy retiring I thought Callum Wilson might get a call-up. He’s done so well for Bournemouth. He’s had those horrendous injuries, but he’s come back and he’s always among the goals. I think he’s knocking on the door.
There are a few young lads being talked about, Phil Foden at Man City obviously being one of them. It’ll be interesting to see when Gareth does decide to get him in the squad and give him that bit of experience with the older lads.
Ryan Sessegnon at Fulham is another one. He’s just got to keep playing well. And he’ll definitely get his opportunity. I think Gareth is looking at players who have played in the same system that he wants to implement with England. And because he’s been U21 manager, he’ll want to try and push some of those lads through and give them an opportunity, which is great for them and exciting for the future of English football.
One who was selected is Joe Gomez and he’s started the season so well for Liverpool. Its great to see him back after injury. He looks like he could be an excellent defender for years to come.
And a prediction for the Spain match itself?
This is a great first match for Southgate and England after the World Cup Semi Final. A pressure’s off friendly, but against a big name opposition.
Now there’s a little more expectation around England after their performance in the summer and hopefully the next couple of years can see us in a good position to have a real go at Euro 2020.
As for Saturday, I fancy an entertaining draw in this one.
Returning to domestic football, West Ham are the only side in the Premier League yet to get a point on the table after four matches. Do you see Pellegrini turning it around there?
It’s going to be tough. At the moment they haven’t clicked. Its very difficult for a manager whenever you bring in a lot of new players. The board have obviously gone in a different direction after David Moyes, which a lot of the fans may well have said ‘that’s what we want to see’, but it’s not been a good start for them.
Losing away at Liverpool and Arsenal is one thing. But the home defeats to Bournemouth and Wolves will be the real worry. They played ok at the Emirates and missed some big chances. But now they’ve just got to work hard to turn it around. The international break has maybe come around at a good time for them but the next run of games that they’ve got is very tough (Everton, Chelsea, Man Utd, Brighton, Tottenham). Not easy games, but if you can nick a win against one of those sides, imagine the confidence boost they’d get. And that can kickstart you out of the rut.
I think they will give Pellegrini time. As much as anything because where do they go otherwise? They can’t go back to a Sam Allardyce to try and steady the ship. It’ll be a really interesting couple of months, but I think they’ll definitely give him until Christmas. And if the results are still poor then, they’ll think they have enough games second half of the season for someone new to come in and change their fortunes.
I do think West Ham will have enough to avoid relegation this season.
And away from football, in the world of golf, the Ryder Cup teams have now been confirmed. Any surprises for you there and how do you see it going?
I’m really looking forward to it. The Sunday singles especially, is one of the great sporting spectacles. When everyone is trying to work out what the order will be and how Thomas Bjorn and Jim Furyk will choose to play it.
I think the captain’s choices from Bjorn were the obvious ones. He’s gone with experience. Ian Poulter, a good mate of mine, he’s come back to a bit of form and he seems to know how to play this format of golf. He seems to raise his game. Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson, two others who have been there and done it. A couple of the guys, Thomas Pieters or Matt Wallace might be disappointed not to have made it, but no real surprises for me.
The Americans will be strong. It’s such a tight one to call. The US are favourites with the bookies but nobody really knows at this stage, it’s probably a toss of a coin at the moment. I’ve got to stick with the Europeans though. People like Molinari, McIIroy they can show up on the big stage and swing it Europe’s way.