The England boss ignored the clamour to start Aston Villa’s talisman and his decision was vindicated after the world’s No1 team were beaten at Wembley.
Outrage, anger, disbelief. Gareth Southgate had lost the plot, they lamented. This was before the game against Belgium had even kicked off.
Jack Grealish was out of the starting XI despite his supreme showing against Wales four days before and in was Mason Mount. The nation’s sofas were alive with those who know better than the England manager furiously tapping away on tablets and smartphones.
Grealish’s absence caused an immediate, predictable backlash from supporters, who questioned what convinced Southgate to select Mount over the Villa player. One suggested the Chelsea midfielder irons Southgate’s little waistcoat for him, another that he has in his possession compromising photographs of the England manager.
It seems the art of passing judgement on a football game after it has finished is a dying one.
Perhaps it could be that Southgate merely resisted the temptation to start Grealish against the world’s No1 team after a handful of – admittedly – very good games for his club and one superb performance for England, after which he was compared to Paul Gascoigne, one of England’s greatest ever players.
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