This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
After watching England suffer a shock 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic on Friday night, a lot of the Gareth Southgate naysayers have come out of the woodwork to criticise him for his team selection.
One decision that certainly raised the anger was playing Kieran Trippier over Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Atletico Madrid man struggled immensely against the home side’s relentless attacks, losing possession 11 times and receiving a 6.4 match rating as per SofaScore – the joint-second lowest of any England player.
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Naturally, Liverpool fans after the game were up in arms over Southgate’s questionable decision to leave out Alexander-Arnold.
How is Trent not starting for England.Tripper gets it 30 yards out on the right and passes it back
— Alwyn Williams (@AlwynLFC) 11 October 2019
Trent may as welll retire from international football already to be fair – what more can he do to start for England #LFC #England
— Nick Manifold (@NickManifold) 11 October 2019
So? He’s only be there a couple of months and he was terrible all last season. Trent has been arguably the best RB in Europe for a year.
— LFC (@xMCRx13) 11 October 2019
But in truth, the Reds faithful shouldn’t be getting themselves so worked up. The international break is a dangerous period for club managers, not least for those teams competing for the biggest honours. Injuries that happen whilst players are off on their travels with their respective countries are a sickening blow. That lack of control can be a source of frustration, and Jurgen Klopp, like many others, will be sitting at home praying his squad come back unscathed.
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And in Alexander-Arnold’s case, Southgate’s decision to keep the 21-year-old on the bench would have been music to the Liverpool manager’s ears. The full-back played 40 times across all competitions last season, and has featured in every single game this campaign barring the League Cup victory over MK Dons.
The threat of physical burnout and mental exhaustion is real, and so being able to get a breather here and there is invaluable. Klopp’s men are chasing trophies on multiple fronts, and the chance to rest players is going to be few and far in-between. Southgate essentially doing that for him with Alexander-Arnold helps the Merseyside club enormously with their objectives this year.
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So whilst the sentiment behind wanting to see your players represent their countries is understandable, Liverpool fans shouldn’t be too concerned with their 21-year-old missing out on Friday night.
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