The judgement is out concerning Phil Foden’ performance at the Euros so far. From Manchester United legends Wayne Rooney and Gary Nevile to talkSPORT pundit Trevor Sinclair and a host of other analysts, the verdict has been the same concerning the Manchester City star.
It’s that he has performed below expectations and deserves to be replaced in the England starting XI moving forward in the competition. But why has Foden been singled out for criticism following the team’s underwhelming performances?
The Three Lions are set to face Germany in a tough last 16 match on Tuesday. Given the fact that it’s a knockout game, there is no room for error. Gareth Southgate is now being urged to keep faith with Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka who performed well against Czech Republic in England’s last group match.
The team’s performance has been largely uninspiring in the competition so far. Raheem Sterling’s solitary strikes against Croatia and Czech Republic ensured the drab draw against Scotland was of no consequence as the team picked up the needed points to emerge group winners.
Huge expectations were placed on the team heading into the tournament with quality players littered all over the pitch. This may not be the golden generation featuring the likes of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand at the back. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in the middle of the park, and Wayne Rooney up front. But the talent on offer is still impeccable.
The lack of goals has been a major concern, leading to the search for a scapegoat. It appears Foden is the easy target as Sterling has scored the team’s only goals so far. But why is that when there’s a striker in the team saddled with that responsibility?
In a competition where strikers like Romelu Lukaku, Emil Forsberg, Karim Benzema, Ciro Immobile, and Yussuf Poulsen have all scored two or more goals to help their countries progress, Harry Kane is yet to get on the score sheet.
In fact, the team as a whole has been poor in front of goal. With only two shots on target against Croatia, one against Scotland and a total of five shots against the Czechs (two on target) that’s easy to see. At this point, questions need to be asked about the manager’s tactics and why the man tasked with scoring goals is not delivering.
But no, the critics have found an easy target - Foden. And suddenly, Bukayo Saka has become the next best thing after sliced bread. They are singing his praises to the skies while ignoring the elephant in the room.
The Man City midfielder-turned winger was not selected to face the Czechs, yet the team could only manage a 1-0 scoreline. That shows he is not the problem.
Southgate must get his tactics right against the Germans and help his striker find his scoring boots. Otherwise, that may be the end of the road. Nationalelf have not had a great tournament so far by their high standards. But they will definitely turn on the heat on Tuesday.
Despite playing without a recognised striker, they came from behind twice to earn a valuable draw against Hungary that ensured their passage to the round of 16. It promises to be a fight to finish at Wembley. One that only an improvement in the team’s overall performance can save the day for the Three Lions.
So Foden is by no means the one to blame for the team’s performances. First of all, the buck stops at the manager’s table. And then when looking at individual players, Kane has to be the first in line for questioning.