Eddie Nketiah’s role with England U21s needs to be addressed


Managing people is just as crucial a facet of a manager’s job as tactics, and it is arguably even more important for international managers.

You see, it’s not as easy as picking your top 11 players and playing them in the positions you think they are best suited. There are a whole host of other factors to consider, such as how often they play at club level, what position they have played in and how their team’s recent form may have impacted their performance. trust level.

Eddie Nketiah had a frustrating afternoon against Switzerland
Eddie Nketiah suffered a frustrating afternoon against Switzerland | Marc Atkins / Getty Images

Aidy Boothroyd received a heavy blow in the preparations for his England side’s European Under-21 Championship campaign, following news that Manchester United starlet Mason Greenwood had withdrawn from the squad .

The Young Lions boss subsequently found himself in a big dilemma heading into their opening clash with Switzerland on Thursday, and he ultimately chose to make much of his support for the underprivileged man from ‘Arsenal, Eddie Nketiah.

Not only did Boothroyd give Nketiah the opportunity to lead the line, but he also handed him the captain’s armband.

It was a bold move, as if to say ‘you might not be in your manager’s account at club level, but while you’re here your number one’ – sounds smart, but it really did not work.

The Gunners frontman found himself trying to play a role that just wasn’t his game, falling deep into an almost bogus role of nine in order to help connect the game with the English flying wingers.

His distribution was poor and his overall game in general was just not at the level England needed, with Boothroyd’s side ultimately looking toothless for much of the game as they slumped towards a 1-0 loss.

To be fair to the Young Lions boss, there really aren’t that many other options within his squad. While Greenwood plays predominantly on the right for United, he has proven himself capable of leading the line when needed, although his late withdrawal leaves England’s frontline options at best.

On the one occasion of the match where Nketiah was brought to life, he took off from the shoulder of Swiss defender Jan Bamert and was eventually dragged by the man of Sion, giving referee Giorgi Kruashvili no choice but to hold up a yellow card.

It was a timely reminder to Boothroyd that – when played in a role that suits him – Nketiah is still a very dangerous player who can cause problems for England’s opposition to Euro 2021, but hire your captain in a role he can’t play is utter nonsense.

Nketiah found himself chasing shadows in midfield rather than leading the line
Nketiah found himself chasing shadows in midfield rather than leading the line | Marcio Machado / Getty Images

If handing over the captain’s armband to Nketiah before the start of Euro 2021 was supposed to be a way to build confidence, Boothroyd may have helped break that confidence after the Arsenal man produced a dismal display and was hooked 15 minutes from the end.

With failed leader Rhian Brewster the only other center-forward option in Boothroyd’s ranks, it is likely he will stay with Nketiah for England’s crucial second group game against Portugal on Sunday.

If he maintains his faith in the Gunners’ center-forward, he needs to re-evaluate the type of role he is going to ask him to play, because in the loss to Switzerland, he has completely run dry and has by the sequel hampered his team’s chances of progress. . Again.



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