Andy Cole: ‘Playing Phil Foden out of position will make it easier to leave him out’

 | Tuesday 18th June 2024, 7:44am

Tuesday 18th June 2024, 7:44am

Andy cole footy 1

England have made a winning start to their Euro 2024 campaign with a 1-0 victory over Serbia on Sunday night. After Phil Foden’s performance was scrutinised, former England international Andy Cole believes that playing the Premier League Player of the Year out of position will make it easier for Gareth Southgate to leave him out of the team as the competition progresses.

In an exclusive interview with Betfred, Cole also discussed Erik ten Hag remaining at Manchester United, Jarrad Branthwaite to Old Trafford rumours and whether he’s backing Marcus Rashford to come back stronger next season after his Euros snub.

Euro 2024 Betting Tips 

  • England to beat Denmark @ 4/6
  • England to win Euro 2024 @ 7/2

What are your overall thoughts regarding England’s 1-0 victory over Serbia on Sunday?

“I just couldn’t get into the game. For the first 20 minutes of the game, they kept the ball really well and had a go at Serbia. Bellingham’s goal was a brave, brave header, but after that it was just passing for passing’s sake. They didn’t really commit anyone. That’s my analysis of the game.”

Do you believe Phil Foden should continue to play on the left-hand side of England’s front three going into the rest of the tournament? 

“No I don’t. I won’t be the only person that says this but to get the best out of Phil Foden, you need to play him where he plays for Manchester City. It’s a similar scenario to Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, when Scholesy had to play on the left-hand side of the midfield for England. You’re accommodating players because you have pressure from the outside world and the media are saying that Foden needs to play but ultimately, he ends up being played in a position where they’re not going to get the best out of him. As you’re not going to get the best out of him, when he doesn’t play well it’ll be easier to leave him out of the team. Sometimes you can’t get all your best players in the starting eleven.”

If Foden was to be removed from the left-hand side, do you believe he will be removed from England’s starting eleven or do you believe he will accommodate the position of another player?

“It probably would be Foden if someone has to be sacrificed. When you try to accommodate all your best players and it doesn’t work out, then a decision has to be made. In management at international level, you can’t please everyone. Look at Didier Deschamps with France, he doesn’t try to please everyone. Instead, he tries to pick the best team for specific games. 

“Ultimately, this is what England needs to do but we’ll have to wait and see. Foden will have to turn up against Denmark, otherwise he could find himself out of the team.”

Do you want to see Trent Alexander-Arnold continue in England’s midfield as the tournament progresses?

“It depends on what England are trying to achieve. England have a lot of good midfielders and it looks as if Trent isn’t going to play at right-back. Trent hasn’t let anybody down when he’s played in midfield and going forward; that looks as if that’s going to be his position for England and they just have to get on with it. It’s as simple as that.”

What’s your prediction for England’s second group game against Denmark on Thursday? 

“Not being disrespectful to Denmark, but England should be strong enough to beat them. For teams of England’s stature, it’s all about the latter stages of the tournament and they should be beating a team like Denmark. However, it all depends on how they set up.”

How far do you believe England will go in the tournament? 

“I believe they will make the semi-finals or the final. There’s a massive fixation that England are going to win the tournament with all the players that they have and due to this fixation, there’s a lack of respect for the other teams in the tournament. 

“Germany are the home nation, so they’ll always turn up. Portugal, bloody hell, they have a really good team. France were in the World Cup final less than two years ago and people are now disregarding them. It’s going to be very interesting to see which team wins the tournament.”

Would you like to see Newcastle United’s Anthony Gordon start on the left-hand side of England’s front three? A winger that likes to get in behind full-backs. 

“No, not really. I feel like everyone has been pushing for Gordon, before the end of the season, to go to the Euros, but when you look at England and what they have, you could have the same argument for Cole Palmer. When you end up with the goals that he’s got, you could turn around and say that you’ve got to find a space for him, but then you could end up in an endless cycle of saying that England needs to find a place for Anthony Gordon, Cole Palmer, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden. The list is endless. 

“Everybody has got their own opinion about who they think should and shouldn’t play, it’s like the talk about Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford not making the squad and what a mistake that is. It’s all a matter of opinion. 

“For example, look at how the media and people were talking about Saka the other day – everyone was saying that he was the one who deserved to miss out on the squad, then fast forward to Sunday night and with the way that he played, I think he’s made a few people  swallow their words as he proved to everyone, and himself, that he’s worthy.”

Now onto Manchester United. It’s confirmed that Erik ten Hag will remain at Manchester United next season and he’s said to be set to sign a new two-year contract at the club. What are your thoughts on the club’s publically known conversations with other managers before coming to this decision?

“I don’t know. I really don’t know. For Erik ten Hag to claim that he was told by the club that they were speaking to Thomas Tuchel is crazy. It’s just strange and even more so when you consider how public it’s all been. Admitting that you’ve spoken to another manager is like telling your wife that you’ve been messaging another girl. It’s like committing adultery. It’s just crazy, but fingers crossed Ten Hag signs a new contract.”

Do you believe it will take one bad result next season for Ten Hag to come under pressure again?  

“It may take more than a few bad results, but the scrutiny will be on him from the first day of pre-season. If they start their season like they did the last, then of course the pressure is going to be on him quickly. It will be very interesting to see how it all works out.”

Why do you believe that Erik ten Hag wanted to remain at the club considering that INEOS were speaking to other managers?

“Ultimately, I believe Erik just believes in himself. He’s won two cup competitions in two years and I understand at a club like Manchester United that you’re judged on your league form, but Erik clearly believes in his own ability. They finished eighth last season, so it’s going to be a tough job to finish in the top four next season and the pressure is on Erik to achieve that. We just need to wait and see what happens.”

Bruno Fernandes continues to be linked with a move to Germany with Bayern Munich. Do you believe Bruno will be taking that interest seriously?

“It all depends on what Bruno’s objectives are. When you’re 29 years old, you want to be playing in the Champions League every season and know that you’re competing for major honours regularly. If Manchester United can match what he wants, then I’d be very surprised if he left. It sounds as if he wants to stay for as long as possible, but he wants to know INEOS’ ambitions for the football club first. He’ll want to know who Manchester United are looking to bring in this summer and if you’re an elite player, you’re going to want to know these things.

“I believe the reports suggesting that most of the team were up for sale hasn’t helped this situation.”

After being left out of England’s Euro 2024 squad, are you backing Marcus Rashford to come back stronger next season?

 “I’m at that stage now where I have to say that the only person that can actually answer that question is Marcus. You can only ask Marcus why last season was so disappointing. When he comes back for pre-season, you can only ask him what he’s looking to improve on? How does he expect this season to go? He’s the only person that can answer these questions. We find ourselves in a generation where if you make comments about players, they people get very upset about things so it’s best to leave it to the individual to comment on.”

Manchester United’s initial bid for Jarrad Branthwaite of £35 million plus add-ons has been rejected by Everton. They’re reportedly holding out for £70 million and do you believe they have every right to do so?

“100%. He’s 21 years old, Manchester United have offered £35 million plus add-ons, so why would Everton try and do them a favour and say that it’s a fantastic deal for them, especially when you consider the problems they have. 

“Every centre-half that Manchester United has bought in the last 10 years, they’ve overpaid for. They’ve spent a fortune on them, so what’s going to change now? To get him out of Everton, it’s going to cost you more than £35 million plus add-ons.”

We know you’re an admirer of Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise, but it’s said that Chelsea are very interested in him. How sad would you be if Olise chooses a move to Stamford Bridge over Old Trafford?

“I really do like him, I think he’s the type of player that could come to Manchester United. I know there’s nonsense spoken about him and I had the same throughout my playing career as well – ‘a quiet individual’, ‘can’t really get to know him’ – all that kind of nonsense. So in a way, I understand him and I have to question why people care about what he does? If wants to talk to you, he’ll talk to you, and if he doesn’t, he doesn’t – it’s not like he’s causing anyone any problems. 

“He’s a very talented kid and wherever he decides to go, which I hope is Manchester United, he will be a fantastic acquisition, just like Eberechi Eze would be. He’s another talented player that I think would change Manchester United. He’s got good control of the ball and can produce that little bit of magic, so Palace have some really good players.”

Speaking of Eberechi Eze, who do you believe Manchester United need more, Eze or Olise?

“I would take both. They’re two different players, but they’re two talented individuals that can take players on, create chances and score goals. We’ve been saying for some time that Manchester United needs wingers that can go past defenders, get the ball in the box or come inside and do what they do. 

“Olise can do that and if you look at the way that Eze plays – he’s an individual that can get on the ball and run at defenders and produce chances and score goals, so that’s what this Manchester United team needs as well. It will definitely be interesting to see what acquisitions Manchester United make.”

Reports in Germany are saying that Manchester United are closely monitoring Bayern Munich’s Mathias de ligt. Do you believe he could be the perfect centre-back for your former club to pursue this summer?

 “I like him but the thing I don’t understand about him is why is he always moving? That's what I don’t get. He did three years at Juventus and about two years at Bayern, so what I’m now thinking is if he is such a good player, why would the club want to sell him?

“I think he’s a good player, but you’ve got to start questioning why everyone keeps selling him. He’s only 24 years old, so I’d like to think that his best years are still in front of him, so it’s an interesting one. I wouldn’t say that Bayern Munich needs the money, but let’s see if it happens.”

Newcastle United are reportedly closing in on the signing of Burnley goalkeeper James Trafford. From what you saw of him in the Premier League last season, how do you believe he will fare at St James’ Park?

“I think he’ll do okay. I watched him quite a bit the season before last when he was at Bolton and he was fantastic for them. Obviously Burnley went down last season, but you couldn’t pin it on him. He’s a young goalkeeper that’s got enormous talent and if you’re going for that kind of money at such a young age, then it means you’ve got talent. If he did go to Newcastle, he certainly wouldn’t let them down. The club has a few goalkeepers, so who’s ultimately going to be the number one? We have to wait and see.”

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