Gareth Southgate reflects on decision to not start Marcus Rashford at World Cup

England manager Gareth Southgate stands by his decision to not start Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford in the World Cup quarter-final.

The Three Lions faced reigning champions France in Qatar in a bid to progress to their second consecutive World Cup semi-final.

They put up a determined fight in the tightly contested heavyweight clash; Aurelien Tchouameni opened the scoring early in the first half before Harry Kane levelled the tie through a spot-kick in the 54th minute. Olivier Giroud then headed home to retake the lead and when England were granted a lucrative opportunity to equalise with a late penalty, Kane sent it over the bar.

The manager has received ongoing criticism due to his tactical and player decisions, namely the fact that he did not utilise Rashford as a starter in the quarter-final despite the forward being in prolific form. At that stage in the competition, he had already scored three goals and proved himself as one of the team’s standout performers even with his limited playing time. Southgate opted to deploy both Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden, with United’s No.10 being substituted into the game in the 80th minute.

Since returning to club football, Rashford has been perhaps the most in-form player across Europe. He has scored in nine of 10 matches played, taken his goal tally up to 18 and has lit up almost every pitch with his confidence.

Still, Southgate stands by his decision. He told The Telegraph: “I think people are looking at his form post-tournament as much as anything. Had Marcus played and the result being like that, they’d have been saying Phil Foden should have played, or Jack Grealish, so I’ve got peace with what we did and how we went about it. I also know that’s how the narrative always works after our games.”

Stretty News’ verdict

If Southgate had started Rashford, or even let him have a longer cameo in the game, there’s a strong chance England would have progressed to the semis, and he would have not been labelled a failure for not reaching silverware despite coming so close again.

However, he rested him and instead the 25-year-old came back even hungrier to prove himself and taste success with his club under a manager that knows he’s irreplaceable in the lineup. Southgate’s loss = United’s gain. Thanks, Gareth!

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