Micah Richards has slammed Gareth Southgate's decision to play Phil Foden on the left wing against Serbia.

England got their Euro 2024 campaign off to a winning start on Sunday, with Jude Bellingham’s early header proving to be the difference between the two sides. The Three Lions started strongly but faded after the first half, inviting pressure from Serbia, and struggled to create chances to extend their lead.

Southgate opted to experiment with Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield but it was the England manager’s use of Foden that incensed Richards. The Premier League Player of the Season faced criticism for his ineffective display and Richards has pinned the blame on Southgate for not playing to the Manchester City star’s strengths.

“Phillip Foden. Phillip f’ing Foden. I’m not going to swear because he doesn’t deserve it. What can you do? I told you it doesn’t work,” Richards argued on the Rest is Football podcast. “It works for Man City if he plays on the right or the left or the number 10 because of the rotation.

“You know how Pep sets up his sides. There’s going to be movement, rotation, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Grealish, Doku, whatever it may be alongside Haaland up front. I just think with England there’s not enough of that and he’s left, at times, isolated.

“Me and Cesc [Fabregas] had a really good debate afterwards. He said I was protecting {Foden], I wasn’t protecting Foden but it’s frustrating. I did feel for him.”

He added: “With Foden, it’s so disheartening to see a player of that quality being played out of position.”

HAVE YOUR SAY! Where is Phil Foden’s best position and should he start England’s next game? Tell us in the comments section below

Plenty of England fans on social media agreed with Richards' opinion, with one writing: "Not liking Foden on that left, he’s not right, not liking Trent in midfield. A bit of shoe horning to get the individual players into the team rather than players that play in that position for their clubs week in week out."

Another said: "The way Foden looked tonight, and with the lack of stretching from the left, I think Southgate is gonna wish he’d brought Rashford." While a third added: "At some point Southgate has to realise Foden ain’t a left winger and give up with it. Shadow of the player he was for City."

Foden scored 27 goals and provided 12 assists in 54 games for Man City this season but has often not looked the same influential player for England. Richards proposed that Southgate Jude Bellingham into a deeper midfield role to allow the Three Lions to get the best out of Foden.

“Cesc was right, on the ball, he was moving into the number 10 role but he still had to press on the left and when he got the ball, it was almost like he was a little bit lethargic,” Richards continued. “We’re talking about a player of Phil Foden’s ability, he’s best at receiving the ball on the half-turn.

“So he has to play number 10, put [Jude] Bellingham further back alongside [Declan] Rice and play Foden in the 10. I said against Iceland, he didn’t have the best of games in the 10 but other players have had other chances to play in their favoured positions and if we persist with it, he can have an impact with this squad.”

Gary Lineker agreed that Foden was not an ideal fit on the left flank. However, the ex-England striker suggested that the Man City man is unlikely to earn on a spot on the opposite wing, leaving him to rely on Southgate moving Bellingham alongside Rice to accommodate Foden.

“I sympathise with you in some ways,” Lineker told Richards. “I think, with English players, we sometimes see it differently but I don’t think it suits him on the left. He’s better on the right but Saka plays on the right and Saka was great. He’s consistent, he stays in that position, he likes that position.

“Phil Foden, I think, was caught between a rock and a hard place in the sense that he starts in that position, he’s been told that he can come inside, but coming inside from a wide position is different to starting in the centre and being able to go either way. At the same time, you think, ‘Come on Phil, you’ve got that much talent, you can work things out’, but if you’re uncomfortable…”

Providing a possible solution, Lineker added: “It’ll be interesting to see how Gareth manages that situation on the left-hand side because you’ve got an obvious player that can play on the left-hand side in Gordon.”

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2024-06-17T09:17:08Z dg43tfdfdgfd