Why this Man United star must start for England in their next game

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As England struggles to find its rhythm in the Euro 2024 tournament, a solution to their midfield woes may be sitting right on their bench. Kobbie Mainoo, the 19-year-old Manchester United prodigy, could be the key to unlocking England’s potential and solving the longstanding midfield issues that have plagued Gareth Southgate’s side.

England’s 1-1 draw against Denmark exposed glaring weaknesses in their midfield setup. The experiment of playing Trent Alexander-Arnold in a central role has failed to yield the desired results, leaving the team disjointed and unable to control the tempo of the game. This has been a recurring problem for England in major tournaments, with Southgate himself admitting that finding a solution in midfield has been a challenge for “seven or eight years.”

Enter Kobbie Mainoo. The young midfielder has enjoyed a breakout season with Manchester United, impressing in high-pressure matches against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. His composure on the ball, ability to receive possession under pressure, and skill in progressing play up the pitch are exactly what England has been missing.

Mainoo’s strengths align perfectly with England’s current needs. He describes himself as an “8,” a box-to-box midfielder comfortable in both attacking and defending roles. This versatility could provide the balance that England’s midfield desperately lacks. His experience playing futsal as a youth has honed his touch and ball control, allowing him to operate effectively in tight spaces – a crucial skill when facing compact defenses in international tournaments.

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Furthermore, Mainoo has already shown he can handle the pressure of international football. His assured performance in his full England debut against Belgium in March convinced Southgate to include him in the Euro 2024 squad. This composure under pressure could be invaluable as England progresses through the tournament.

Critics might argue that throwing a 19-year-old into the starting lineup of a major tournament is too risky. However, England has a history of young players stepping up on the big stage. Wayne Rooney at Euro 2004 and Jude Bellingham at the 2022 World Cup are prime examples. Mainoo’s meteoric rise at Manchester United suggests he has the mental fortitude to handle such responsibility.

Starting Mainoo could also allow other players to thrive in their natural positions. Declan Rice, for instance, could focus more on his defensive duties when out of possession and in possession focus on driving forward with the ball, knowing he has a technically gifted partner alongside him. This could create a more balanced and fluid midfield, capable of both protecting the defense and supporting the attack.

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The current tournament format also provides an ideal opportunity to integrate Mainoo. With England still topping Group C despite their underwhelming performances, they have some leeway to experiment in their final group game against Slovenia. This match could serve as the perfect platform for Mainoo to showcase his abilities and potentially cement his place in the starting lineup for the knockout stages.

Gareth Southgate has shown a willingness to trust young talent in the past. Now, with England’s midfield struggles laid bare, it’s time for him to take a bold step and start Kobbie Mainoo. The young Manchester United star has the potential to be the missing piece in England’s puzzle – a midfielder capable of dictating play, maintaining possession under pressure, and providing the link between defense and attack that the Three Lions so desperately need.

As England aims for their first European Championship title, they need to evolve and adapt. Kobbie Mainoo represents not just a solution for the present, but a glimpse into the future of English football. It’s time for Southgate to place his trust in this precocious talent and unleash him on the Euro 2024 stage.

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