Blame Southgate, not Saka

And that’s that then. It did not come home.

I have always had a love / hate relationship with England.

On one had I am a proud English. I celebrate St George’s Day. I have an England flag tattooed on my leg. If there is an Englishman playing in the lawn bowls, I back them.

I have travelled the world to watch the England cricket team, I rarely miss a six nations game.

But then I have always struggled to connect with the England national team.

It might be because my love for The Arsenal is so strong that I struggled to detest Gary Neville, John Terry and Frank Lampard one Saturday and was then expected to cheer them on the next.

It is also partly to do with me finding international football outside of tournaments boring. Predictable qualifiers and stale friendlies just get in they way of domestic football.

But then I was out in France at the last Euro’s, and when international tournaments come round I tend to get caught up in it all.

I think maybe my dislike for international football is it disrupts the domestic scene. And then in the summer as there is no Arsenal, I fall in love with England.

This England team is a little bit different to those of yesteryear though. They are a lot more likeable.

The players do not have the arrogant swagger or clammer for celebrity. And the WAGs are not desperate to become famous. It just seems like a good bunch of lads.

And no more so than Bukayo Saka.

The picture of Saka on a unicorn lifted the nation.

He has such a child-like joy to everything he does. Like a one year old having their first birthday. So excited without fully realising what is going on.

And that is why I was absolutely gutted for him yesterday.

Why was he on the 5th penalty? Why not Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Luke Shaw or even Jordan Pickford – all of whom have taken senior penalties?

Yesterday was Saka’s first ever penalty at senior level.

To put the youngest man in the squad on the crucial 5th penalty just felt like a mistake before Saka had even taken it.

Gareth Southgate is the man to blame for England failing to bring it home.

He failed to change the game with subs, bottled hooking Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling when both were so poor. Bought on Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho with 2 minutes to go to take penalties. And then had Saka on the 5th.

My only hope is that missing that penalty and the abuse that followed does not change Saka. That he keeps that smile on his face. The joy.

I think Ian Wright has a big job to help Saka. He is the man to reach out. To play the “uncle” figure.

The abuse towards Saka was shocking, disgusting, but not surprising.

I have called out social media many times on this blog for a lack of action. For allowing a torrent of racist comments to exist within their networks. Unfortunately the likes of Facebook, Twitter and  YouTube turn a blind eye to the abuse. They rely on the abusers to boost their Daily Active Users, which in turn boosts ad revenue.

The sad thing for me is all England fans end up tarred by the same brush.

99.9% of those that follow England do so in good faith. They do not throw plastic chairs, look for a row, or abuse people on Twitter. But it is the 0.1% that end up on the front pages.

You get 3 or 4 idiots and suddenly 50million Englishmen are labelled as racist.

I hope Saka gets cheered at every ground he goes too next season – I think the days of the David Beckham lynch mob are a thing of the past.

As Arsenal fans, it will be down to us to build the young man back up.

Pre-season games start this week so if you are going to one of the games, sing his name loud and clear.

Oh, and for those couple of Arsenal fans that were abusing Saka. Stop pretending to be Arsenal.



7 thoughts on “Blame Southgate, not Saka

  1. NB

    God knows why Sancho and Saka were taking the ‘pressure’ kicks. Normally you put your strongest taker in a 4 or 5 because of the added pressure. Why was Kane first?


  2. Seroti

    Every other senior player in the team that has more experience than Saka failed to walk up to the penalty because of the fear of losing it and expectant of the abuse that will follow and so it turned out. Gradually self-expression in football will be killed of for the fear of losing and facing abuse of all kind on social media, if all this social media owners don’t work out ways to solve all this issues they should be ready one-day there families will be subjected to all this racial abuse on their mo ey making platform then they will know how it feels.
    Big Hugs out to Saka, Rashford, Sancho, guys should chin-up and come back stronger next season to shows your wonderful set of skills to trill nd win matches for your various clubs. YOU ARE ALL HEROES


  3. mohamed said bazzi

    i am an arsenal supporter and england fan since i was a boy. southgate did a great job to reaching finals,but taking the lead in 2 minutes and sit back is dangerous. lets say full time we finished 1 1 . bring rashford and sancho immediately for the 30 minutes extra tume and go for the glory . anyways the pressure plays a part as well on him so its done. but good luck next time.with regards


  4. Tez

    I was absolutely gutted last night.. Like you I too find it hard to follow England in anything other than big competitions but when I do I’m wholeheartedly behind the team and being a lifelong gooner was proud of what saka has achieved with England this summer I’m gutted he missed but thats the game you can’t score each time if it was garenteed we wouldn’t be so hooked on this incredible roller-coaster of a game last night gave us wonderful highs but sickening lows saka played a big part in all of this… The lows are just as important as the highs I’ve never blamed any one for missing a penalty we all know the ball needs to end up in the back of the net to count if a penalty was a garenteed goal there would be no point in taking it saka was big hearted enough to say I will take one which was more than some of the other senior players did unfortunately along with the other two saka didn’t hit the back of the net its part of the game… I hope with all my heart that it won’t affect saka or inhibit his open joyish style football he along with Smith row this last season have been a joy to watch with the added bonus that we know they are acadamy gooners and as such will always bring that little extra pride in what they achieve as gooners we need to collectively put our arms around his shoulder and tell him it is a low we all know that but he needs to hold his head up high for being brave enough to offer to take it when others around him stepped back… Saka I’m proud of you and everything you’ve achieved in this championship your young and have so much more time to feel the highs which will come with a lad with so much ability as you


  5. Nyakoojo Griffin masanga

    Saka is ahero for being passionate when other senior players didn’t take abig decision,Those racialy abusing english players especially saka,sancho & rashford am sorry ithink they lack being football lover(win/lose) is necessary Am from #uganda pearl of africa ABUSE ON BLACK PLAYERS Will not change them otherwise making them strong last time we saw messi missing copa america to chile through penalties but he always belived ENGLISH FANS Don’t let english football by being unpatriotic ,###AFRICANS LIVES MATTER.


  6. Dammy

    Well put. Southgate’s to blame. He’s got every other decision before this game right (based on results) so it was hard to question. The lineup in midfield looked off to me from before kick-off. One thing I have liked with Southgate, he’s switched to match tougher opponents to give us an advantage. Germany go 3 at the back, Gareth goes 3 at the back. Reverts to type against Ukraine and Denmark and it worked a treat. All except the Scotland game which really felt like a North London derby. So when Italy put 2 pacy CM’s on either side of string-pulling Jorginho, my first thoughts were Rice and Phillips will have their work cut out for them. But then we literally score 45 seconds from an Italy corner with both wing-backs combining for the goal; I start to question myself for questioning Southgate. The next hour was however tedious and my fears were proven right. Rice and Philips were run ragged, Mount looked like fish out of water on the left of a front three. Hell Shaw came from behind him and turned in front of him for the goal! And his marking of Veratti for the equaliser?
    The tactics are on GS. The personnel deployed are on GS. The substitutions/lack of/or late are on GS. The one thing that could hurt Chiellini (36) and Bonucci (34) is pace and GS failed to exploit that. Either side of Kane, should have been pacy forwards.
    Rashford and Sancho may have scored penalties for fun in training but hooking Henderson who has experience taking pens was wrong. The idea to hurt Italy with pace in extra time came at the 128th minute, a little too late.
    I just want to hug Saka because this might sit with him for a while if the right support isn’t there. GS said he chose the pen takers. If he did, he got it wrong. He’s got a lot right this tournament going further than most so I still revere him, but he got it wrong in the final.


  7. Bill Tyson

    Why do you have to “Blame” anyone.
    We just came second in the Euro’s.
    Better that we’ve done in any competition in a long time.
    We just pushed the winners to 120 minutes of football and only lost on penalties where only five from ten were scored.
    We saved two of theirs and two of our three “missed” were actually “SAVED”!!
    There’s a difference.
    So stop being so fucking negative and SUPPORT the entire set up that just got our best result for 55 years.



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