Gary Lineker has taken to Twitter to offer his reaction to the decision from Gareth Southgate to omit Trent Alexander-Arnold from the latest England squad.
Lineker, who was capped 80 times for his country, has said that he was left ‘bewildered’ that the Liverpool right-back will not play during next week’s Wolrd Cup qualifying campaign.
Lineker on Alexander-Arnold
Southgate revealed that his decision was down to form, with the England head coach opting to select Reece James, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier ahead of Alexander-Arnold.
The subject of form is a rather subjective and precarious notion, to say the least. What are the underlying variables which determine whether a player is in or out of form?
Southgate is trying to suggest that he doesn’t pick his squad based on reputation – which we could understand.
However, his actions in previous squad selections do not back up his claims. Earlier this season, Southgate backed Maguire, who was wretchedly out of form and even got sent off during England duty. His support for the Manchester United captain, however, remained unwavering.
So, Southgate has already undermined his own stance, and to make matters worse, admitted Alexander-Arnold was returning to from.
To weaken his argument even further, if Southgate were selecting his squad on form then why was Michael Keane, Ben Godfrey or Ezri Konsa picked ahead of Eric Dier, Conor Coady or Tyrone Mings?
And how long does form even last? Trippier has played just five games this year, as a result of his ban having breached betting protocols.
Meanwhile, we may be mistaken in assuming that Manchester City currently have a first-choice right back that isn’t Walker in the form of Joao Cancelo.
James, too, has been persistently rotated as a wing-back under new Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. This argument of form from Southgate is nothing short of nonsensical.
Form is temporary, class is permanent
“I feel like I’ve got to look at myself a bit with Trent,” Southgate said. “I don’t feel that he’s hit that level he’s hit with Liverpool here with England, and other players have. So there is an element of me having to look at how can we do that, because we know some of the qualities that he brings.”
If anything, the fact Southgate hasn’t been able to get the best out of Alexander-Arnold himself, immediately points the finger at his credentials as a coach.
We are talking about a player who has conquered England, Europe and the world before his 22nd birthday.
Still, if Southgate can’t see what Alexander-Arnold brings to the table then maybe it’s for the best that his talents are solely utilised at Liverpool instead.
To leave the player out in the cold during the first minor blip of his career is unforgivable.