As we keep being reminded this is a young England squad, so surely Gareth Southgate should have known better. A man who himself has played international football he apparently thought that a few games of darts and bowling with the press would change how they reported on his men.
Trying to make the media get to know or even become friends with millionaire superstars was his secret weapon, a philosophy which would differentiate him from a Fabio Capello. So now our manager is let down that his potential starting line up would be printed in newspapers, he trusted everyone that the sake of his sides success was the main agenda. Those who dared take advantage of Steve Holland not knowing in 2018 that cameras are everywhere supposedly won’t be invited to the next pool contest.
For a man praised for how articulate he speaks this is naive from a guy who knows personally how unforgiving the world Is to failure. Yes most sports writers are football supporters who love in their lifetime to see their nation win a World Cup. This though is also their jobs, their bosses have paid them to go to Russia (transport and accommodation provided) to get as much content as they can.
Tabloids are competing with each other. Whoever can email their editors with the most juicy story puts more food on their family’s tables as they wlll sell more papers or get more clicks online.
With the impact of social media its an industry where jobs are harder to seek. In other words using this summer as a free holiday, trying to be Harry Kane’s best mate would most likely be a sackable offence.
Yet listening to press conferences in the last few days that seems to be the expectation. Forget about work or deadlines, don’t type anything that might mentally affect us. What if we draw with Panama? Should the media not dare criticise for fear of upsetting 23 adults?
Of course we shouldn’t drop points this weekend. The reality is whoever starts vs the Central Americans should earn 3 points fairly comfortably. The world knowing our XI a few days in advance is an non story based on the limited opposition, it’s the managers and players reaction to it which has made it an issue. It’s made them show their hand. That all this being open and letting people come in to their inner circle was just a ploy to try to escape any criticism. How transparent, how weak minded. How arrogant and naive!
That’s the bigger story.