Liverpool fans were left baffled as Gareth Southgate overlooked Trent Alexander-Arnold during England’s drab 0-0 draw with the United States.
England were expected to steamroll over their American opposition in the second game of their World Cup campaign, having produced a 6-2 victory over Iran in the opener.
Instead, they were left to play a pragmatic game, with few genuine chances to break the deadlock, while at the other end Christian Pulisic struck the bar.
Southgate named an unchanged lineup, and perhaps rightly so, but as the game unfolded, he turned to Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson from the bench.
Appearing to settle for a draw, the England manager declined the option of two more substitutions as both Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden went unused.
The lack of ambition, in ignoring two of football’s most dangerous young players at 0-0, sparked criticism from many England supporters.
This was echoed by Liverpool fans, who took to Twitter to question the use of Alexander-Arnold.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Trent Alexander-Arnold is England’s best RB. It’s criminal for Southgate to not even feature him in this game that had no creativity whatsoever.
— Samuel (@SamueILFC) November 25, 2022
Foden & Trent have provided match-winning goals & assists to win Premier League & Champions League titles. On a consistent basis. You probably couldn’t ask for better substitute game-changers.
— Raj Chohan (@rajsinghchohan) November 25, 2022
Will never understand why Trent & Foden are on the bench for Trippier & Mount. It’s like we’re allergic to good technical players
— FSG OUT (@ShaunlfcT) November 25, 2022
Trent Alexander-Arnold was responsible for the most SCA in the Premier League last season (160). That’s 32 more than any member of England’s XI tonight.
Gareth Southgate’s reluctance to count on him, even in the most desperate of circumstances, is astounding.
— Keifer MacDonald (@KeiferMacd) November 25, 2022
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been named the best right back in the Premier League 3 out of the past 4 years. He also has the assist record for defenders in a single PL season.
Gareth Southgate decided England are better off without bringing him on during a 0-0 draw. Genius.
— harry ???? (@harryatmiller) November 25, 2022
Brazil would play Trent over Danilo
Spain would play Trent over Azpilicueta
France would play Trent over Pavard
Argentina would play Trent over Molina
Germany would play Trent over Sule
Belgium would play Trent over Castagne
Portugal would play Trent & move Cancelo to LB
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) November 26, 2022
Kieran Tripper Vs USA
0 Blocked shots
1 Dribbled past
‘Trent can’t defend’
— Samuel (@SamueILFC) November 25, 2022
pep picks foden week in week out, klopp chooses trent week in week out, but don’t worry, southgate knows what he’s doing
— Dan (@theredslaaa) November 25, 2022
Imagine going from having Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola harnessing your generational talent and telling you how good you are to sitting on the bench behind Gareth Southgate watching 95 minutes of turgid shite.
Trent and Foden must be wondering what the fuck is going on ?
— Biggies Malls 2.0 (@Biggies_MaIIs) November 25, 2022
Would love to see the media reaction if Trent had the performance Trippier has had here. Has been really poor at both ends, while Southgate continues to leave one of this country’s most creative sparks on the bench.
— Leanne Prescott (@_lfcleanne) November 25, 2022
Watching on in the ITV studio, Gary Neville took a similar stance, describing it as a “little bit disappointing” both Alexander-Arnold and Foden were ignored as “they are world-class talents.”
“Other nations, Spain, Brazil, France, probably would have Trent Alexander-Arnold and Foden in the starting XI,” he said.
“I understand it a little bit, having watched Trent Alexander-Arnold defend.
“But when you see a game like that, where we lack creativity, where we can’t really create any chances, you think those two players really should be in there.”
Before the tournament, Neville appeared to sympathise with Southgate as he argued that he “[couldn’t] see how Gareth could go into a knockout game of a World Cup playing [Alexander-Arnold].”
And Liverpool supporters were quick to flag his questionable change of heart.
The audacity of Gary Neville there calling for Trent to be played
He spent 4 years denigrating him
He more than any person in the world has created the mythical “understanding” that Trent is an awful defender
All USA chances came from something Trippier did or didn’t do
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) November 25, 2022
Gary Neville a week ago:
"Trent can't be trusted in a knockout competition ".
Gary Neville when England are inevitably shite:
"A little disappointed that Trent is sat on the bench when we created so little. Spain, Brazil & France would be playing Trent & Foden. Disappointing."
— Positive LFC Tweets (@30YearsRed) November 25, 2022
England draw a game and Neville is crying out for Trent to be playing now when they’ve no creativity, you couldn’t write it. He’s spent the last 6 months slagging him off at every opportunity in the media and now he’s asking for him to be playing. Absolute clown that fella ?
— Josh (@JWoodall7) November 25, 2022
So you’re telling me that Gary Neville’s gone to Qatar and taken the state’s money, only to then appear on ITV and lament Southgate for not playing Trent Alexander-Arnold? Despite the fact that he’s slated him for weeks on end on MNF? Unreal.
— John Watts (@JA_Watts) November 25, 2022
It is, of course, no surprise that Southgate failed to employ the unique talents of Liverpool’s No. 66, as that has been a common thread throughout his time in charge of England.
Often it is justified, with both Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker producing strong performances for the Three Lions, but there are many occasions when his omission is a clear oversight.
One of those came on Friday night, with all parties right to criticise the decision to not only leave out Alexander-Arnold, but also Foden.