Fo­den and Green­wood push South­gate into fresh cri­sis

Eng­land man­ager must deal with a be­trayal of trust by two play­ers whose ac­tions have un­der­mined his au­thor­ity

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Ja­son Burt CHIEF FOOT­BALL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Ma­son Green­wood and Phil Fo­den should have been run­ning out for Eng­land against Den­mark tonight. In­stead they are run­ning the gaunt­let of pub­lic crit­i­cism be­cause of their stu­pid­ity, im­ma­tu­rity and com­plete dis­re­gard for their team­mates and the sit­u­a­tion they – and the rest of the world – are in.

Here are two of the coun­try’s most ta­lented young foot­ballers who, in their first call-up to an Eng­land se­nior squad, and hav­ing earned their first caps, have cho­sen to break the rules and have rightly been slung out by Gareth South­gate and sent home.

What is so re­mark­able is that nei­ther seemed afraid or feared con­se­quences of their ac­tions and so de­cided to take the risk of meet­ing women from out­side of the biose­cure bub­ble at the Eng­land team ho­tel in Reyk­javik on Sun­day evening. What does that say about them?

In nor­mal times, such rule break­ing and hav­ing li­aisons in ho­tel rooms would be bad enough, but as we are still deal­ing with the de­bil­i­tat­ing ef­fects of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic it points to a hor­ri­ble dis­con­nect and a be­trayal of trust.

The only pos­si­ble mit­i­ga­tion is that Green­wood is 18 and Fo­den 20, and South­gate spoke with his usual em­pa­thy about how he knew “young peo­ple get things wrong”. But he also knows that only goes so far. “We’re not ex­cus­ing that in this in­stance,” the Eng­land man­ager said, and the re­al­ity is that un­der any cir­cum­stance the two play­ers have let him and Eng­land down and fallen far short of what is ex­pected of them.

There are ques­tions now for South­gate – can he trust them in the fu­ture? Does this da­m­age his au­thor­ity? And, above all, hav­ing es­tab­lished his re­build of the Eng­land set-up on the be­lief that play­ers have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to each other

and the shirt, how far has that been un­der­mined?

Un­der­stand­ably South­gate balked at sug­ges­tions that, well, he might be a bit of a “soft touch” given the ap­par­ent lat­i­tude he has al­lowed play­ers and the fact that he can be so in tune to their needs. That opens him up to the ac­cu­sa­tion that what some peo­ple de­scribe as “emo­tional in­tel­li­gence” when it comes to deal­ing with young foot­ballers can be deemed, by oth­ers, as naivety.

Cer­tainly Fo­den and Green­wood have let South­gate down and their very ac­tions un­der­mine the au­thor­ity of an Eng­land man­ager who has lauded them, given them their chance and launched what should be long in­ter­na­tional ca­reers. Why then em­bar­rass him like this? Prior to play­ing Ice­land, South­gate could not have been more ful­some in his praise of the pair – and this is how he is re­warded?

South­gate will not take it per­son­ally. But he needs to deal with it be­yond the ob­vi­ous ex­clu­sion of the play­ers and while the cir­cum­stances are very dif­fer­ent from Harry Maguire’s ar­rest and con­vic­tion – pend­ing ap­peal – be­fore the squad an­nounce­ment last month and the bust-up be­tween Joe Gomez and Ra­heem Ster­ling a year

ago, the fact is that three of Eng­land’s last four matches have been over­shad­owed by out­side events.

South­gate has dealt with all those in­ci­dents well – Ster­ling was dropped and Maguire was ex­cluded af­ter the ver­dict came through while he also took a dim view on see­ing James Mad­di­son watch­ing the Eng­land-Czech Re­pub­lic game in a casino three days af­ter be­ing sent home with flu. So he has earned the right to process this lat­est episode in his own way.

But South­gate does need to con­sider if th­ese are iso­lated in­ci­dents or a trend in­duced by a more trust­ing en­vi­ron­ment. He also needs to con­sider whether the lead­er­ship group of play­ers he has es­tab­lished – which in­volves Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Ster­ling in this squad – is ex­er­cis­ing enough con­trol. This is foot­ball at the elite level, with spe­cial priv­i­leges and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and this is no way to act and South­gate has to find out if any play­ers were aware what was go­ing on.

As for Fo­den and Green­wood, there is no way, un­for­tu­nately, that ei­ther of them can be con­sid­ered for se­lec­tion for Eng­land at any level in the near fu­ture, no mat­ter what their club form is. It means that they have to be dis­ci­plined and ruled out of Eng­land’s trio of

matches next month at Wem­b­ley against Wales, Bel­gium and Den­mark. At the very least. Oth­ers who are ca­pa­ble of act­ing more re­spon­si­bly are more de­serv­ing.

If there is suf­fi­cient con­tri­tion then nei­ther player should suf­fer be­yond that, but any call-up will have the caveat that they have to re­gain the man­ager’s trust, while for Fo­den and Green­wood – both of whom are fully aware of the rules hav­ing lived un­der them for their clubs in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion – there will be the stain of stu­pid­ity for some time to come.

There will also be fur­ther pun­ish­ment from their clubs and, un­for­tu­nately, the way they have be­haved raises that sus­pi­cion that young Pre­mier League foot­ballers be­lieve they do not have to live by the same rules as the rest of us and that their fame and abil­ity will over­ride mis­de­meanours.

Fo­den and Green­wood have been caught out. They have em­bar­rassed Eng­land and the Eng­land man­ager and it is quite a charge to carry.

South­gate’s mantra with Eng­land has been “high per­for­mance, low main­te­nance”. The ac­tions of Fo­den and Green­wood look like a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to ridicule that so there have to be fur­ther con­se­quences.

For both play­ers, there will be the stain of stu­pid­ity for some time to come

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