England Euro 2024 scapegoat Trent Alexander-Arnold has been HUNG OUT TO DRY by Gareth Southgate

You could have predicted that Trent Alexander-Arnold would become England's scapegoat long before Euro 2024 got underway.

Liverpool's majestic vice-captain is as technically gifted as any player from his nation currently, including Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden, so how can't you make him a key man?

When Gareth Southgate opted to use Alexander-Arnold in midfield for England's opening game against Serbia, it felt refreshing.

Had the Three Lions' famously cautious manager finally had the nerve to let this talented group of players off the leash, using the Liverpool ace as a playmaker who could run the show from deep?

Of course he hadn't.

Two games into the competition and England have been as dour to watch as any team, and Alexander-Arnold has been substituted in both matches, being replaced early by Conor Gallagher.

Now, the Chelsea man is strongly rumoured to be starting over the 25-year-old against Slovenia on Tuesday evening, in what feels like the most predictable outcome imaginable.

Of course Southgate is ditching a world-class talent with a passing range few of his generation can rival in place of a player mainly renowned for his energy, but one who lacks elite ability.

Trent made to bear responsibility for England failings

As Liverpool fans, many of us don't overly care about how England fare, so the sight of Alexander-Arnold being on the bench won't perturb us.

But it's still impossible to shrug off a feeling of sadness and anger for him personally, as a horribly limited manager deprives him of shining on a huge international stage.

Make no bones about it, he has been made to bear the responsibility for England's failings, having been thrown into a rare role, and former Liverpool player Ryan McLaughlin took to X to speak of his displeasure of the treatment of him:

Similarly, Declan Rice has also leapt to the defence of Alexander-Arnold, making it clear that the media's efforts to pull him down aren't going ignored by his teammates.

“It's funny because people were calling for Trent to play in midfield. Half the country are calling for Trent to play in midfield," Rice said.

"And then you play him in midfield and then you want to bring him down. I don't get it. I don't get it at all.  I'll defend all of my boys until the day I never put on an England shirt. Trent is one of the best players I've ever seen.

"Don't call for someone to play in a position and then backtrack all because you think he's had a bad game or something. I'll tell you now, Trent can play in midfield. I've seen it at England. I've seen it for Liverpool. He's unbelievable. That's what I say to the people that you see say that type of stuff."

Southgate can't wait to drop Trent

While the media can certainly shoulder some of the blame for the anti-Trent agenda, the issue mainly lies with Southgate.

The England boss is clearly a good man with the right morals, and deserves credit for creating a togetherness that hasn't always been seen with the Three Lions, but the manner in which he has handled Alexander-Arnold is shocking.

There has always been a nagging feeling that he doesn't rate the Liverpool hero as much as others, almost feeling pressured to pick him, and he has now ditched him at the first opportunity, when others could easily have made way instead.

Foden has offered next to nothing in an admittedly unsuited left-sided role, while Harry Kane has appeared to be running in treacle in the opening two matches.

England v Iceland - International Friendly, Länderspiel, Nationalmannschaft Trent Alexander-Arnold of England on the ball during the international friendly match between England and Iceland at Wembley Stadium on June 7, 2024 in London, England. London Wembley Stadium England United Kingdom PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xNigelxFrench/Sportsphoto/APLx 14040447

Kieran Trippier has looked painfully limited at left-back, Rice was woeful against Denmark and Kyle Walker hasn't exactly been pulling up trees in Alexander-Arnold's usual right-back position.

It feels like Southgate couldn't wait to find a reason to drop him, and that chance has now arrived.

Granted, Alexander-Arnold's opening two performances were far from spectacular, but Southgate used him so badly that it was ultimately never going to work.

Trent fully appreciated at Liverpool

He picked a group of attacking players who want to come to the ball, giving him a lack of options in behind with his passing ability, and the general defence-minded nature of the tactics were simply never going to see him thrive.

Yet despite all this, Alexander-Arnold is still averaging 2.5 chances created per 90 minutes for England in the past 18 months, which is the highest tally of any player with over five starts in this time, according to football data expert Michael Reid.

But he's the problem, Gareth. Understood!

There is still plenty of the Euros left for Alexander-Arnold to make an impression, but it is sad to see that it will now likely have to be as an impact substitute.

There must be a part of him that cannot wait to be back with Liverpool where he is fully appreciated, as Arne Slot looks to take his game to another level as he heads into his prime years.

To see such a special and unique footballer being hung out to dry is hard to accept, but that is never going to happen at Anfield, where he hopefully still has another decade of magic to treat us to.

Managers of Southgate's ilk do not deserve to be around such talent.

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