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Trent Alexander-Arnold has proved England worth even with Gareth Southgate's horrible management

Trent Alexander-Arnold of England shakes hands with Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England, after being substituted during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Denmark and England at Frankfurt Arena on June 20, 2024 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
-Credit: (Image: Richard Pelham/Getty Images)


Gareth Southgate has managed Trent Alexander-Arnold horribly. In spite of that, the Liverpool star has been able to prove his value, even if the manager has remained oblivious.

It looks as though Alexander-Arnold will be dropped for England's game against Slovenia. Southgate has form for rotating in the third group match, so it's not necessarily a total abandonment of the Reds' vice-captain, but nor is it a ringing endorsement of a player he has already hauled off twice at Euro 2024.

Going against the old advice of Jurgen Klopp, Southgate has made Alexander-Arnold a full-time midfielder at this tournament. But that's a long way from being his biggest mistake.

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After all, even Klopp came around on the Alexander-Arnold in midfield idea to some extent, albeit never fully moving his star right-back. Had Southgate handled it properly, it could have worked out for England.

Instead, it's been botched at every single turn. First of all, there was the long-time reluctance to turn to Alexander-Arnold in any capacity.

Incredibly, this is the first major tournament which Alexander-Arnold has begun as a starter for England. Bear in mind he has come from nothing to break the all-time Premier League assists record for a defender since his emergence in 2016, rising through the ranks to become a key cog in a Liverpool side which has won all of the game's top honors.

There have been more obvious times than now to install Alexander-Arnold as a part of the England side — from 2018 onwards, he was quite obviously a talent that needed to be included. But thrown a rare bone six years later in a mostly unfamiliar position, the Liverpool star has now had to handle the pressure of knowing this could plausibly be his one shot at finally cementing the place he deserves.

Yet even at Euro 2024, Southgate has not truly committed to what he openly describes as an 'experiment'. Alexander-Arnold has been the first to be substituted in both games so far, being replaced by Conor Gallagher less than 10 minutes into the second half against Denmark.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage in London on April 21, 2024.
Liverpool has no doubts about the special talents of Trent Alexander-Arnold. -Credit:BENJAMIN CREMEL/AFP via Getty Images

Despite this, no England player created more chances than the three he managed in that game. And that was from a deep midfield base practically set up to inhibit his best qualities — with Southgate bizarrely claiming he was effectively a wildcard alternative to Kalvin Phillips, of all people.

This creative spark Alexander-Arnold gave England was far from a one-off. A country so often accused of being turgid and uninspired under Southgate has overlooked and underappreciated a generational talent who holds a lot of the answers.

Per Opta's Michael Reid, Alexander-Arnold has averaged more chances created per 90 than any other England player over the last 18 months (among those with at least five starts). He's comfortably clear of Phil Foden in second and Bukayo Saka in third, and way ahead of right-back competition Kyle Walker.

In the reference period, Alexander-Arnold has managed to create 2.5 chances per 90, compared to Foden's 1.7. Saka has managed 1.3. The Liverpool man still leads even when set pieces, such a weapon of his, are factored out of the equation.

In spite of everything, he has been delivering for England. He has overcome the repeated snubs and the positional changes to provide his trademark creativity — and the ultimate insult to injury is that Southgate hasn't noticed.

That has inevitably set the tone for the national debate, where Southgate has set Alexander-Arnold up as the obvious fall guy. The truth is that the Liverpool star is already England's most creative player, and dropping him now would be the rotten cherry on a truly foul-tasting cake of mismanagement.