Euro 2024: What is going wrong with England and how they can address it

Despite topping Group C, England's performance suggests something major is going wrong
Jude Bellingham of England reacts after his team's scoreless draw against Slovenia in the European Championships.
Jude Bellingham of England reacts after his team's scoreless draw against Slovenia in the European Championships. / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

England once again find themselves stuck in the vicious cycle that has haunted them throughout the last few decades when it comes to big tournaments. The Three Lions entered the Euro with one of the strongest teams on paper. The fans were almost certain this would be their year.

However, after somehow holding on to the win in their opening game against Serbia, England dropped the ball and failed to win the next two games against Denmark and Slovenia. With three extremely disappointing performances in the group stages, fans are left wondering what is going wrong with the England team.

While the majority of the blame has been directed to the numerous stars for failing to live up to their expectations, it has been Gareth Southgate who has been at the end of most of the criticism, and quite rightly so. Southgate's decision to play Trent Alexander-Arnold in the double pivot alongside Declan Rice in the first two games failed miserably and it was quite clearly evident. The system in which Alexander-Arnold plays at Liverpool is quite different from the current England team.

Tactical mishaps haunting England

At Liverpool, the presence of Luis Diaz on the opposite end of the field gives Alexander-Arnold an opening to switch the ball – something he is extremely strong at. Diaz loves to drift wide and thus stretch the pitch and the ball switching becomes quite effective. However, when it comes to the national team, it is Foden who plays left wing and in contrast to Diaz, Foden loves to drift into the central spaces which in turn, renders Alexander-Arnold ineffective.

Southgate tried to fix the issue by inserting Conor Gallagher next to Rice for the final group stage game against Slovenia. However, Gallagher was like a ghost in the right channel with only 24 touches in the first half, as compared to Kobbie Mainoo's 41 touches in the second half. Mainoo did not make too much of a difference either, as the Manchester United youngster kept vying with Bellingham and Foden to take up the same spaces on the pitch

Kieran Trippier, playing left back, doesn't help the issue at all as the Newcastle man isn't a natural left back. He fails to provide England with the width they desperately require on the left side of the pitch. A simple but radical solution to this issue, as proposed by Arsenal club legend Ian Wright, would be to replace Trippier with Bukayo Saka at left back while putting Cole Palmer on the right wing instead.

While Saka is not really a master of the defensive arts, he has already played left back for Arsenal. His speed as well as left-footedness allows him to be a potent attacking threat through the left channel, something England desperately need. The spaces left behind by Saka can then be covered by Declan Rice drifting wide into the spaces and blocking off the half spaces created by the opposition.

All in all, Southgate desperately needs to figure out a solution for England's left channel if the Three Lions are to make any headway into the knockout stages of the tournament.