Gareth Southgate

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Southgate’s passionate plea to England: ‘We must work together’

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Gareth Southgate has once again struck the perfect chord in his attempt to rally the people of England and fans of his Three Lions during these uncertain times of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Southgate wrote an open letter, released by the English FA, calling on everyone to work together to conquer “what is clearly the most extreme test we’ve faced collectively in decades.” He also spoke of his excitement and pride to once again again represent England at the rescheduled European Championship — excerpts from Southgate’s letter which can be read in full here:

“For everyone in our country, the primary focus of the present — and the coming months — is undoubtedly to look after our families, support our communities and work together to come through what is clearly the most extreme test we’ve faced collectively in decades.

“In the way you’ve all come together to support our team, we must now work together to combat a virus that is causing physical and emotional issues to so many. So, please continue to follow the guidelines for hygiene and also the sensible precautions put in place to control the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to its impact. That responsibility lies with us all.

“We are also conscious of the economic uncertainty affecting so many businesses and, consequently, virtually every family. Coupled with the unique challenges of self-isolation, the loss of routine to normal working and social life, we face real challenges to our mental wellbeing. Our children may feel anxious with uncertainty. It’s not normal for any of us and it’s going to challenge us all.

“We were due to play next week and to represent you all this summer but now is clearly not the moment for us to take centre stage. The heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centers to look after our friends and families. They won’t receive the individual acclaim but we all know their importance is beyond anything we do on the pitch.”

“When we play again as an England team, it will be at a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery. Hopefully we will be closer to each other than ever and ready for the beautiful distraction that football can bring.

“To play in a European Championship next summer will still be possible for all of our squad and so we shouldn’t spend another moment thinking about the postponement of the competition. I feel sure when that moment comes I will never have been prouder to be the leader.”

Player ratings: Man United v. Man City

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Manchester is definitely red as Man United beat Man City 2-0 in the Premier League on Sunday to do the double over their crosstown rivals for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

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Anthony Martial‘s first half goal set United on their way in a tight, tense clash as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side defended superbly and kept their top four hopes alive with a gritty victory against Pep Guardiola‘s Man City. Scott McTominay sealed the win with a strike from distance amid the pouring rain in Manchester.

Here’s a look at the marks out of 10 for the players from both teams.


Man United

David De Gea: 6 – Didn’t really have much to do and what he did, he did it well. No errors this week.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 8 – A superb display from AWB who shut down Sterling and was a threat going forward.

Victor Lindelof: 6 – Solid enough and made several blocks when it mattered most.

Harry Maguire: 7 – Came back early from injury and his positioning was spot on. Marshalled the United defense expertly.

Luke Shaw: 7 – Put his body on the line at left center back and left back and will have impressed watching England boss Gareth Southgate. His resurgence continues.

Brandon Williams: 7 – Energetic display from the local lad as Williams got forward a lot more than usual.

Nemanja Matic: 7 – Typically combative display as his sat in front of the back five with Fred. This was his type of game.

Fred: 7 – See above, but with more energy as his consistency in the second half of the season has been sublime.

Bruno Fernandes: 8 – His moment of magic set up Martial for the opener and he was so calm on the ball and made some great runs that his United teammates didn’t see.

Daniel James: 7 – Worked his socks off out wide and had a few good looks on goal but his drought continues. Has to get his head up more in the final third.

Anthony Martial: 8 – A proper No.9’s display as he held the ball up, volleyed home the opener and did his best to be an outlet. He’s really matured this season.

Subs
Scott McTominay: 6 – Scored a lovely goal from distance to seal the win.
Eric Bailly: 6 – A few good clearances and tackles late on.
Odion Ighalo: 6 – Was only on the pitch for a few minutes but got involved.


Man City

Ederson: 4 – At fault for both goals and almost caught in possession. One of his worst displays in a Man City shirt.

Joao Cancelo: 6 – Had quality from right back but chose the wrong option when he got forward.

Fernandinho: 5 – An unusually poor display as Martial turned him inside out on several occasions.

Nicolas Otamendi: 5 – Could have given away a penalty kick and lunged in time and time again.

Oleksandr Zinchenko: 4 – A horrid display at left back. James and AWB ran rings around him. Subbed off.

Rodri: 7 – Did his best to keep City ticking over and, as always, tidy in possession.

Ilkay Gundogan: 5 – The game passed him by in midfield. Not his type of game at all.

Phil Foden: 7 – Kept trying to make things happen but maybe this underlined how much City rely on Kevin De Bruyne.

Bernardo Silva: 6 – Quiet game by his standards but some quality deliveries as per usual.

Sergio Aguero: 5 – Scored a goal which was disallowed via VAR and he looked totally off the pace of the game.

Raheem Sterling: 4 – See above. Missed a great chance in the second half and was just off, as he has been a lot recently.

Subs
Riyad Mahrez: 7 – Made a big difference off the bench down the right hand side. So much creativity.
Gabriel Jesus: 6 – Came close to scoring and so dangerous. Should have started.
Benjamin Mendy: 5 – A slight upgrade on Zinchenko at left back, but that’s not saying much.

Southgate: Smalling could be recalled for Euro 2020

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Chris Smalling has been a revelation for AS Roma this season, and the England National Team manager has taken notice.

With Smalling back to playing some of the best soccer of his career, Gareth Southgate said in an interview with The Guardian that Smalling could be in contention for a return to the England National Team. Smalling was unceremoniously dropped from the Three Lions in 2017 in the middle of World Cup 2018 qualification, but he’s had a renaissance since moving to Italy from Manchester United last summer.

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“I think he’s done well in Italy,” Southgate said. “He’s playing at another big club. He was obviously playing at a big club before. We’re watching everybody because we’ve got to make sure we make the right decision. I’ve never ruled anybody out. I think that would be wrong.”

Playing in a slower, yet more tactical and techncal league, has helped the quick centerback stand out. What’s also helped him, Smalling revealed in previous interviews since coming to Roma, was his ease at maintaining a vegan diet, which has given him new life, and perhaps another England National Team call-up. Smalling has made 21 starts this season in Serie A, recording six clean sheets and two goals.

Smalling’s success this season comes at a great time for him personally, in terms of the national team. Southgate has a crisis on his hands in central defense. John Stones is hardly playing (12 Premier League appearances so far), while Harry Maguire hasn’t had the same kind of impact at Manchester United that he appeared to have while at Leicester City.

Of most recent call-ups, only Fikayo Timori (hasn’t played in the Premier League since the turn of the year) and Tyrone Mings, he of two total caps, fit that position. And if Eric Dier is facing a suspension from the FA, that could keep him out of the Three Lions for Euro 2020. Suddenly, Southgate must look at former players he once cast out for options.

In addition to Smalling, if Joe Gomez would be fit, he’d be a decent option to pair with Maguire, but you’d like to Smalling either starting or at least in the squad to provide some insurance.

Kane eyeing late-season return, will ‘definitely be at EURO 2020’

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Harry Kane is eyeing a return from a torn hamstring at the tail end of the Premier League season to prove his fitness and claim his place in the England team for this summer’s 2020 European Championship.

[ MORE: Coronavirus concerns postpone Juventus-Milan cup semifinal ]

Kane spoke on Tuesday for the first time in weeks and provided a first-person update on his road to recovery after suffering the injury on New Year’s Day. He is eager to get back and help his striker-less club side, with the added benefit of also proving to England manager Gareth Southgate that he can be an asset this summer — quotes from Sky Sports:

“In my head, I am definitely at the Euros. Unless something pretty drastic happens between now and then, I’ll be there.

“I’m still not back training with the first team, but I’m working hard in the gym, I’m getting stronger all the time.

“We’re talking a few more weeks, and I’ll be playing again. I don’t want to make a prediction for which game I might be back, but I am hoping somewhere between the start and the middle of April.”

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho revealed last week that Kane could return to first-team action for the final “three, four or five” weeks of the season. Kane has been out for more than two months now, and Spurs are also without Son Heung-min for the foreseeable future due to a broken arm. Mourinho hinted the South Korean could also return before the end of the season, but he was far less committal on that matter.

WATCH: Manchester United equalizes as Bruno Fernandes scores again

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Bruno Fernandes‘ terrific start to life at Manchester United continued Sunday with his third goal in just over a week.

It’s 1-1 with Everton at the break after Fernandes lashed home from distance at Goodison Park.

The Portuguese playmaker has three goals and two assists in his first six appearances, all of the goals coming in the last eight days.

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Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford joined his United counterpart David De Gea in making errors, though not nearly as offensive as the Spaniard’s howler in the face of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Playing in front of England boss Gareth Southgate, Pickford was slow to react to Fernandes’ shot from atop the 18. With plenty of time to prepare and an unobscured sight of Fernandes, Pickford should do better.

It would’ve been a decent save, to be sure, because the quality of Fernandes’ cross is evident from the angle behind the shooter.

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