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Opinion

With England the question is who would get into the Manchester City team?

5 months ago
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When we get to an international tournament, fair to say that common sense goes out of the window where England are concerned.

The amount of hours filled on TV and radio with England analysis is overwhelming, the same in the newspapers and of course online.

However, very little of it makes sense.

There is no stepping back and looking at things rationally about the national side.

Going into these Euro 2020 finals, fair to say that the hype was as large as it has ever been, a supposedly brilliant England team and squad that could well go on and win the whole thing.

After three rather underwhelming performances in a poor quality group and only six attempts on target in over five hours of football, the media are now questioning why this top class England squad isn’t showing its class and superiority?

I have a question to try and find an answer and some common sense to the debate, how many England players would get in the Manchester City team?

This is the England team that started against Croatia, then the two in brackets were the changes made for the match against Scotland:

Pickford

Walker (James)

Stones

Mings

Trippier (Shaw)

Phillips

Rice

Mount

Foden

Kane

Sterling

Fair to say this above is pretty much the first choice Gareth Southgate eleven, maybe the possible exceptions would be Maguire and Henderson coming in, neither who were fully fit ahead of the first group match.

So who above would get into the Manchester City side?

There are of course four Manchester City players who have started the first two England group games, this was their Premier League starting record for Man City in the 2020/21 season.

Raheem Sterling (28 starts and named on bench 8 times)

Kyle Walker (22 starts and named on bench 11 times)

John Stones (22 starts and named on bench 12 times)

Phil Foden (17 starts and named on bench 21 times)

Raheem Sterling probably the only one who you can say is an automatic starter for Manchester City, more or less, though others in the Man City squad were clearly seen as more automatic starters last season:

Ederson 36 starts (not named on bench at all), Ruben Dias 34 starts (on bench 4 times) Joao Cancelo 27 starts (on bench 7 times), Rodri 31 starts (on bench 7 times), De Bruyne 23 starts (on bench 6 times).

If you combined the England and Manchester City squads, I think the first eleven would look something like this:

Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Stones or Maguire, Shaw, Gundogan, Rodri, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling, Kane

Dias was Premier League player of the year but Stones or Maguire taking the other centre-back role.

Man City had Zinchenko and Mendy sharing left-back duties last season and I think whilst none of them are great, the likes of Shaw, Trippier or Chilwell would get in this combined team.

Sterling with 28 Man City PL starts last season would clearly get a place, for Southgate and Guardiola anyway!

Whilst Man City are trying to buy Harry Kane now, so he is an easy choice, despite struggling so far, though looked a bit better against the Czechs with Grealish and Saka at times making England a bit more creative.

So by my reckoning that would be four England players getting into the Manchester City team – Kane, Sterling, Shaw and one of the centre-backs.

I think that is about where England are at, they certainly aren’t any Manchester City!

Watching as a Newcastle United and England fan, I think Jack Grealish (I couldn’t include him in the combined team, seen as Southgate left him out for the first two games, only playing him once England had qualified and Mount ruled out etc) should clearly be starting every match, if England are to stand any chance against the quality teams, whilst credit to Saka who surely Southgate can’t leave out after showing far more than others had shown in the first two matches.

It has been a tough watch these first three England matches but who knows, if Gareth Southgate actually manages to pick his best possible team (get Sancho in as well!), they would at least have a chance to be the best they can be.

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