What’s The Frequency, Gareth?

Picture this scenario. You are preparing to watch a much-anticipated movie. This is a film you’ve watched every trailer for and read tons of behind-the-scenes write-ups on. Genuine excitement is flowing through your veins. Then, just as you are about to go into the theater, somebody spoils the entirety of the movie including the ending. You are so soured on the experience you walk out, head low Charlie Brown-style. This is what I believe Gareth Southgate has done to Liverpool fans regarding the tactical future of Trent Alexander-Arnold.

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Still Up In The Air

There are two distinct camps regarding how TAA will deployed under Arne Slot. The first group thinks his current role as a right back that “inverts” in attack still suits him despite the problems it caused at various points last season. The second, and one I find myself tentatively sitting in, sees him as a proverbial quarterback next to a traditional DM in some semblance of a double pivot.

The validity of the idea is still up in the air. I think you can’t rule it out until you give it an honest effort. The problem is after the group stage at Euro 2024, many believe that they now possess the proof that it will never work. And that is where my analogy comes in.

ASTV Shorts: Southgate vs. Trent

England has saved Gareth Southgate’s face numerous times during his seemingly unkillable tenure. They are a team overflowing with talent that can never get out of their own way. Even in a tournament where he has finally constructed a roster more on form than on resume, he has found new ways to set his team up to fail.

Papering Over The Cracks

There should be something said about getting the job done. The group stage may not have been pretty. Nevertheless, England topped the group and advanced. Against Slovakia, it took an all-time bicycle kick from a burgeoning Three Lions legend and an extra-time winner from their top scorer all-time to get them past a game side. But in the end, they prevailed. Versus the Swiss in the quarterfinals, they pulled it out with penalties.

Media and fans alike will have their respective field days finding faults with Southgate’s system or lack thereof. But in regards to Liverpool FC and their future, the National Team boss has done the club no favors.

A Confidence Imbalance

As a Liverpool fan, seeing Trent go up to the spot last against Switzerland felt like a set-up. After everything Gareth Southgate had done thus far at Euro 2024, the conspiracy theorist in us all probably felt like there was a bit of premature scapegoating in order. However, Trent’s rocket past Yann Sommer quelled all those fears.

That spot kick should in essence bring the Liverpool fullback’s confidence back up to 100, right? I’m not so sure. The resounding sentiment is that Southgate continues to Mr. Magoo his way through this tournament no matter what. When you have Gary Neville coming to the defense of Liverpool players, there is a strange aura in the air. It’ll be interesting to see both the formation and player selection for the semi-final against a Netherlands side that has no issues shaking things up.

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In the end, my only hope is that Trent Alexander-Arnold is given more of a chance to prove himself. England has shown to be an incomplete product still somehow. There is no logical or tactical reason to have one of your best passers relegated to extra-time speedwalking. And don’t even let me get started about the zero under Joe Gomez’s appearance column this tournament.

An Old Gareth Can’t Change Its Spots

I get it. What I am asking for is irrational given who I am asking it of. But deep down I want that light bulb to turn on in his head. Everybody can recite how far his teams have gone in recent tournaments. Yet they never seem to talk about how those tournaments end unless they want to spit vileness toward players left in a sailboat with ripped sails.

I’m not an England supporter. Never have, never will be. But how Liverpool players perform at major tournaments is important in terms of the mental state they return to the club in. Despite my thinking he still may leave, I’m expecting an uptick from Luis Diaz next year given how freely and beautifully he’s played at Copa America. And even though he’s added a few stained sitters, Darwin Nunez’s run with Uruguay has been phenomenal as well. Cody Gakpo is being Tournament Cody.

Robbo and Szobo’s exits came on teams with measured expectations. Unless they had god-tier performances it was going to be seen as a wash. That is where Trent and England differ. Everybody said a semi-final was England’s floor and they’ve nearly fallen through it twice. We were told the best players were going to play and even though we got some new blood overall, it is the same old shit. Gareth has two games to make us eat our words. Let’s see how good of a chef he is.

Floppy disks to entering in code on a Spectrum 48K… Clearly not a lot going on in the transfer market for Liverpool at the moment
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