‘Not set up for him to flourish’ - Micah Richards blames Gareth Southgate for Phil Foden’s Euros struggles

Micah Richards has criticised Gareth Southgate's tactical approach at Euro 2024 that has prevented Phil Foden from flourishing.Micah Richards has criticised Gareth Southgate's tactical approach at Euro 2024 that has prevented Phil Foden from flourishing.
Micah Richards has criticised Gareth Southgate's tactical approach at Euro 2024 that has prevented Phil Foden from flourishing. | Getty Images
The ex-defender claimed Foden would benefit from playing in an attack-minded team.

Former Manchester City star Micah Richards has defended Phil Foden following the criticism he has received in the wake of England’s underwhelming displays at Euro 2024.

On the back of a year when Foden was crowned Premier League Player of the Season, expectations were high heading into the Euros, but he has failed to have the same impact on the international stage. The 24-year-old has not provided a goal or an assist so far at the tournament and has typically endured quiet spells in games.

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It has even led to suggestions that Foden should be dropped for Wednesday’s semi-final against the Netherlands. But Richards feels that would be a mistake from Gareth Southgate and claimed Foden’s struggles have been down to ‘tactical issues’.

Writing in a BBC Sports column, Richards said the England team has not been ‘set up for him [Foden] to flourish’.

“The easiest way to explain why Foden has not had the same impact for England as he has had for Manchester City is to look at where he is on the pitch when he receives the ball,” Richards wrote.

“In the first four games, when he was on the left, England were so deep that he had no chance to show off his skillset. For City he is used to playing short and quick passes on the edge of the area and running in behind. You can’t just give him the ball and expect him to dribble past four or five people from near the halfway line, because that just isn’t his game.”

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Foden’s positioning has also come under scrutiny this summer. He shone from a more central area for City last season - although often he started out wide an drifted inside. In an effort to replicate that, Southgate selected Foden and Jude Bellingham as two no.10s behind Harry Kane in last weekend’s quarter-final win over Switzerland.

But City’s no.47 still wasn’t able to pull the strings and he was eventually replaced five minutes before the penalty shootout having managed just one shot and one key pass. Again, Richards feels this is more a fault of the system than the player.

“I thought he started that game really brightly when the team were playing high up the pitch, similar to what City do, but then England went back to old habits and dropped 30 or 40 yards back,” he stated.

“So although Foden was in a more central position that suits him, the team were still not playing in the areas where he wants to get on the ball.”

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Richards also claimed that Bellingham’s runs are at times making it hard for Foden to get on the ball and appeared to make a dig at Southgate’s defensive approach.

“We should also remember the identity of this team. If we had an attack-minded coach and Foden was not playing well then, again, I would understand the calls to bring someone else in. Gareth Southgate is not that kind of coach, though. He has had success by being defensive and that is not going to change now.”

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