Who lost the Euro 2020 final? Southgate!
Italy national team became the European football champions 2020. There are many reasons behind this, but the simplest one: they struck a penalty better than the British: Italy did not score Belotti and Jorginho, and British - Rashford, Sancho and Saka. And it looks like it's Gareth Southgate's big fault.
Southgate lost the final, he courageously took a fault, and he will live with it. But the drama is here to stay for 23-year-old Rashford, 21-year-old Sancho and 19-year-old Saka.
The manager is there to read people, understand whether somebody is ready or not, and be very cautious, cause the cost of a mistake in this case - the career of a young footballer.
At the 119th minute, the English coach made a double replacement - removed Kyle Walker and Jordan Henderson and released Marcus Rashford with Jadon Sancho. This was not an attempt to turn over the last two minutes of the game, but a move for a penalty shootout. I assume the logic behind it was: Kyle Walker last hit a penalty in 2013 at Tottenham Hotspur (scored the decisive Hull in the League Cup), and Henderson did not score the penalty in a friendly match against Romania right before the Euro, and in 2018 at the World Cup he did not score in the post-match penalty series against Colombia.
The last went to shoot Bukayo Saka. One of the youngest participants in the final matches of the European Championships, who had never shot a penalty before, was put on the last decisive penalty, which Donnarumma confidently caught.
The logic behind this decision is hard to get. Arsenal midfielder has never performed penalties in his official career. Bukayo hit a penalty only in the youth cup of England in friendly matches for the youth team - and there wasn’t 100%: he scored two out of three.
And it’s obvious, why the nation has questions for Gareth Southgate - what he was guided by choosing Saka and not, for example, Luke Shaw, who perfectly performed a penalty in the Europe League final a month ago? Or Raheem Sterling, who doesn’t have the most pleasant statistics: over the past two seasons he scored only one penalty out of four. But there was already a decisive fifth blow in the series at Wembley in 2019, when he scored and brought the Champions League Cup to Manchester City. On top of this, there were also much more experienced Grealish, Stones, Phillips. I guess we’ll never know why Southgate made this decision.
And we get it, to win you need to give chances and experiment, but the final match and the final penalty is not the right time for this. Penalties are, first of all, the game of stress management and experience, rather than talent, and as much as you can believe in someone, as a manager you need to calculate your risks and make the right bet, cause the price is too high.
And now Bukayo, Rashford and Sancho are at the centre of this unpleasant conversation, which they have no blame for. Everybody can make a mistake, hope, in this case, everybody will learn from it, especially Southgate.