Gareth Southgate has explained the reasoning behind his decision not to play Jack Grealish in England’s 1-0 defeat to Denmark on Wednesday.
The Three Lions suffered a disastrous defeat in which both Harry Maguire and Reece James received red cards. After the eventful game, Southgate was once again asked why he didn’t give the Aston Villa star any action.
The ex-Middlesbrough boss told Sky Sports (via The Daily Mail): ‘We had to go with speed in the wide areas and athleticism in the wide areas because with ten you have got such a shift without the ball. Mason [Mount] and Marcus [Rashford] did that really well.’
At first, these comments from Southgate seem reasonable.
However, dig beneath the surface a little bit, and the numbers simply don’t reinforce the England boss’ explanation.
A recent graphic from the BBC – uploaded on October 7th – shows that Grealish is among the quickest players in the Premier League.
Interestingly, the likes of Mason Mount and Marcus Rashford – players who Southgate chose to take on Denmark because of their speed – aren’t even in the top ten fastest players this season.
Incidentally, Grealish sits joint-sixth among the Premier League’s quickest players this season, having recorded a top speed of 35.1 km/h.
Only Tariq Lamptey, Kyle Walker, Nathan Tella, Oliver Burke and Aboubakar Kamara are quicker than the Aston Villa captain, who The Daily Mail say earns £135,000-a-week.
It goes without saying that Southgate is in charge and rightly calls the shots.
However, if he is saying speed was the reason for Grealish’s exclusion, then he doesn’t have much of a case to fall back on judging by the BBC’s telling graphic.
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