Gary Lineker calls out England boss Gareth Southgate over snubbing “best player” Jack Grealish in the second half of the draw vs Hungary.
The visitors took a shock lead in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier at Wembley with Roland Sallai scoring from the spot after Luke Shaw’s high boot on Loic Nego.
However, a John Stones finish from a set piece drew the Three Lions level around 10 minutes later, but it was a decision Southgate made on the 60th minute that drew in plenty of criticism.
Gareth Southgate surprised many when he subbed Manchester City winger Grealish for Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, yet he had looked lively on the ball for much of the game, with the England side struggling contend with a deep-lying Hungarian side.
The former Aston Villa player was seen making plenty of daring runs, but his final ball was lacking, much like the rest of the England team.
Yet it was Grealish who was the first to be subbed, leading to plenty of eyebrows being raised, with former Three Lions striker and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker going as far as to call out Southgate for taking his “best player” off the pitch.
He tweeted: “Southgate brings on Saka for Grealish, who was comfortably the best player on the pitch.”
Grealish had a big chance to put England in front but couldn’t get his shot off in time.
His performance in the first half had Roy Keane full of praise for the midfielder, despite not grabbing the all-important equaliser.
He told ITV: “It’s been tough going for England, it took them a while to get going, went a goal behind, Hungary to be fair defended well, good shape, good energy.
“Grealish has come into his own going past people and deserved the equaliser but it’s been a good test.”
Ian Wright then admitted that he was disappointed to see Grealish go off when he did after injecting his energy into the game.
Wright said after the final whistle: “Jack Grealish, disappointing to see him go off because he was the one player who did have the spark but in the main you just have to hold your hands up and say well it didn’t quite happen we didn’t lose the game but there’s a lot to think about.”
Eni Aluko also questioned the call, saying: “We were asking the same question [why Grealish came off] he was the one creating chances, getting on the ball, drawing fouls which led to the goal.
“As Roy said Hungary were set up so well, England have to break that down with their attacking players.
“The structure of the team went to Henderson and Rice them two sitting so it goes back to the question is that the structure that works best rather than Foden and Mount in the advanced two.”
I’m not surprised Grealish is pissed off.
He’s been our best player going forward tonight and is subbed because he was the last into the team?
— 𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐭 𝐇𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐲𝐦𝐚𝐧 (@HoneymanMatty) October 12, 2021
England: Pickford (6), Walker (6), Stones (8), Mings (6), Shaw (5), Rice (6), Foden (6), Mount (5), Grealish (7), Sterling (5), Kane (5).
Subs: Saka (6), Henderson (6), Abraham (6), Watkins (N/A)
Man of the match: John Stones
England boss Gareth Southgate said after the game: “I think we have to accept that we dipped below our usual levels. That was surprise, but it was a night where individually and collectively, we didn’t hit the heights we have been at. We didn’t quite do enough to win the game.
“We didn’t create as much as we would have hoped, but we have to give Hungary credit to that. We lost a little bit of positional disciple at times so there’s a lot for us to reflect on and work on.
“I thought we were a bit anxious with some of our passing and I thought we were trying to force things a little bit. We needed to simplify our game a little bit and move the ball more quickly at times. Lots that we can go away and feel like we should have been better at.”
Southgate to ITV: “It was a disappointing performance. Full credit to Hungary, I thought they caused us a tactical problem. We weren’t fluid and I didn’t think we played at the level we needed to play. It’s difficult to pinpoint. We’ll go away and think of the balance of the team a little bit, but individually, we can do better as well and we made lots of simple mistakes with the ball.
“We’ve got to go away and reflect. We shouldn’t judge things on one game in terms of that sort of experiment [playing Mount in forward areas and Foden in midfield] because right across the board from the start, we weren’t sharp with our play. We gave the ball away, we were overrunning things and I think we were underneath it. It’s the first time in a long time and we have to hold our hands up to that.”
On the performances of Kane and Sterling: “I don’t think we should look at individuals because collectively, we didn’t perform at the level we needed to. When you have that sort of situation, then it’s difficult for individuals as well.”
Hungary boss Marco Rossi: “The guys followed the tactics from the beginning to the end and they put in something by themselves – their skills and their hearts. We were a bit lucky but we found an English team that was not properly on its best evening.
“If I’m not wrong, this is the first time Hungary take points from Wembley after the 6-3 (in 1953). After the last match against Albania, I was an idiot. We are out, but we are not the idiots many of our false supporters were saying we are.”
On the fan trouble at Wembley: “No comment. I don’t want to comment on this situation. It’s not my task. Everything I could say could be interpreted in a different way.”
Fans reacted as Gary Lineker calls out England boss Gareth Southgate over snubbing the “best player” of Tuesday night’s game…
@CeejayNightwing: Because Grealish’s entire game is about hugging the ball until he can take a dive from a foul. It doesn’t help the team actually maintain a flow of passing superiority to formulate attacks. Just handy for getting dead ball situations.
@Darcy_Cosgriff: Respectfully, whatever Gareth’s game plan has been to formulate attacks hasn’t been working. Sometimes you need individual brilliance and Jack was the only one on the pitch who looked even remotely capable of finding a breakthrough.
@Liam_UFC_Brett: Mount hasn’t touched the ball. He’s so absent for England but doesn’t get dragged. Foden hasn’t been as dangerous as grealish. Sterling hasn’t. I don’t know why it’s always Jack that has to come out. It’s baffling
@riizrafa: Southgate and Ole tactical masters!!
@gaz8000: Jack has been great but not seen Mount or Kane do anything, so Gareth in his infinite wisdom takes off Jack. We’ll win nothing with him in charge
@tubbytriathlete: What an odd substitution that is Grealish was without doubt our most effective player just about sums Southgate up
@ryanwoodscouser: Said it before and will say it again, he’s got something against Grealish.
@Paulljfletcher: And leaves Sterling on the pitch who has been arguably the worst player on the pitch.
@123bbq123: Story of the Euros. We were deceived into thinking that Sterling was world class. Kane and Sterling could have both legs hanging off and they wouldn’t be taken off. Grealish should be fuming.
@lindsaycarver: Sterling and Kane have been dreadful. Grealish always a threat
@1RationalJon: One has to ask if there is more to this? It’s like groundhog day when it comes to Grealish and England.
@MCFCAJ10: It’s a mind boggling decision. Mount been awful and even Sterling hasn’t been great, but he takes Grealish off?
@jackhicks08: It’s genuinely a joke how southgate still has a job at such a high level. He’s tactically miles off it and cant read a game. Subbing your best player off in a game where you’re level is shocking and should show just how poor he is as a manager to anyone who didn’t already realise
@trixie_2000: Southgate doesn’t like Grealish… it’s very obvious. He’s another agenda led melt with his discriminatory decisions. His personal bias plays not part in the National football team. He would rather loose than play the strongest team.
@FohnJord: I like Southgate a lot and what he’s done for England but he clearly has his favourites. He used to be ruthless and pick players solely on form now it’s acceptable to be out of form/not playing as much and still certain players get picked or on as first sub.
@Sean57017958: What has Southgate got against Grealish, Kane should of been replaced, Mount should have been, Grealish is the only one who shouldn’t.
@RichardsonNath: Weird decision. Sterling has had a mare and is left on while out most penetrative and creative player is off. Clueless
@Furbz_85: Kane and Mount both invisible and pointless tonight. What does Southgate do first… sub Jack. Can’t write this, even moving to Man City doesn’t stop it. Southgate needs to go. Hungary were good but England should be putting that team away easy.
@cds4324: Grealish only ever got selected for first squad when someone pulled out injured. Then it needed £100m transfer for him to start. Now he’s subbed when best player. S’gate doesn’t like him – we’ve known it for a while…
@CjB26315205: He will never get England further than what he did at the Euros. Insistence on playing big names over those in form and bad substitutions will always be his problem. Sterling should have made way for Saka not Grealish, Kane should have come off sooner or not started, out of form
Gary Lineker calls out Gareth Southgate over snubbing “best player”, do you agree with what’s being said? Let us know via our socials!