How can England leave Maddison out? And the player who cost Liverpool the title is exposed

·6-min read
Leicester and England midfielder James Maddison reacts Credit: PA Images
Leicester and England midfielder James Maddison reacts Credit: PA Images

The year is 2022 and there is still consternation at James Maddison being ignored by England. Liverpool are busy ruing the villain of 2014.

 

Tears for fears
‘Gareth Southgate fears England’s World Cup plans have been hit by players’ lack of Premier League game time’ is the scaremongering headline on The Sun’s website.

By the opening paragraph Southgate is ‘worried’ and ‘game time’ is hyphenated. Hedge your bets and all that.

The England manager did thankfully speak on the matter so minds can be made up:

“Clearly, we have a number of players who are not playing a lot of minutes with their club. It is not ideal but we feel they have been, and can be, important for us. It is not a perfect situation but there is still a lot of football before Qatar.”

Sounds like he’s absolutely bricking it.

 

Refuse collector
If Southgate is afraid of anything, it ought to be one vengeful player:

‘Jadon Sancho refuses to give up on his World Cup dream after being snubbed by Gareth Southgate’ – Daily Mirror website.

‘Jadon Sancho refused to give up on a place in England’s squad for the World Cup after firing Manchester United towards a Europa League win in Moldova on Thursday night’ – MailOnline.

How utterly bizarre would it be if Sancho, responding to missing out on the England squad, just came out and said, ‘Right, that’s me done then. Best of luck in Qatar. I give up’?

It turns out the professional footballer will continue to try playing to the best of his ability for the remaining two months.

 

Don’t shoot the messenger
On a similar note, a well-taken goal in the Europa League against FC Sheriff is not a ‘personal message to Gareth Southgate’. Or not a very good one, anyway. No matter how much the Daily Express website might wish it so.

 

Maddison avenue
The Daily Mirror website promises ‘Six England stars unlucky to miss out on call-up ahead of the Qatar World Cup,’ which is pretty much the standard fare.

Sancho is there, alongside Benjamin White, Harvey Elliott, Ryan Sessegnon and Max Kilman. Decide for yourselves precisely how ‘unlucky’ those five are.

But Mediawatch will take the claim that James Maddison is unfortunate to have missed out head on. Aren’t we about two years past this by now?

Leicester City‘s main man is running out of time to gatecrash the World Cup squad following this fresh setback,’ apparently. Just a bit.

‘On current form, it’s hard to argue against including Maddison; the playmaker has managed to shine in spite of Leicester’s struggles this term and has already bagged two goals and an assist in just five top-flight matches.’

While ‘it’s hard to argue against’ him, let’s at least give it a try:

1) Two goals and one assist is hardly indicative of a player who is ‘shining’, not least for a winless team currently bottom of the league.

2) Also, one of those goals was a free-kick and the assist was from a corner. Not sure that will come in handy for Maddison when the squad also contains James Ward-Prowse.

3) Maddison is the star player around which Leicester’s attacking system is built, which is completely at odds with an England set-up which doesn’t use the position he is best in.

4) Who does he get opportunities ahead of in that midfield? And if your answer is European champion Mason Mount, who has been regularly used by every single one of his managers in different roles and formations, perhaps think again.

5)

 

Victor royale
‘Chelsea sold the man who ‘cost’ Liverpool a Premier League title for £4.3m’ is an international break headline a few days too early from the Liverpool Echo.

The player in question is Victor Moses, who spent the 2013/14 season on loan at Anfield. But precisely how did he ”cost’ Liverpool a Premier League title’ that year?

‘Could he have been more useful in the Reds’ league challenge? They won most of their matches in the run-in, though he was an unused substitute for the draws with Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.

‘As he was ineligible for the loss to Chelsea, the only other match Moses featured in from which the Reds didn’t take three points has gone down in legend as Crystanbul, and even then, he only played the final four minutes of the 3-3 draw – missing a great chance in added time.’

A reminder that, had Moses scored that goal to put Liverpool 4-3 up against Crystal Palace, they would indeed have been level on points with Manchester City. But their goal difference would have been +52 to City’s +65 heading into the final weekend.

Not really sure you can blame Moses for Liverpool being unable to enact a 13-goal swing in the last game.

 

Dutch courage
Here is Dylan Terry of The Sun website on the Manchester United transfer warchest:

‘SunSport exclusively revealed that the Dutch manager is set to receive £70million to spend in the January transfer window.

‘But given how his side are currently applying themselves, it is difficult to see where he would want to strengthen.’

They lost 4-0 to Brentford and were plunged into crisis 34 days ago. Things are obviously not as bad as they were then and money has been spent since but are we really at the stage where the team currently fifth behind Brighton in the Premier League has no room for improvement?

 

Passion of the Crist
‘Seeing Ronaldo scoring a goal is still something special for those who don’t get to see him live – even if they are viewing it through a camera phone, even if it is a penalty. They don’t come along that often nowadays’ – Neil Custis, The Sun.

He is not close to his imperious best and never will be again, but the bloke was third top scorer in the Premier League last season and has scored 13 times in 2022. It’s not exactly a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

 

A load of Bull
‘Not since the days of Steve Bull has a player generated this much excitement at Molineux’ – Mark Irwin of The Sun on Diego Costa.

Ruben Neves is right there.

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