Boothroyd: England U21 job 'utterly impossible'

By Sports Desk March 30, 2021

England Under-21s boss Aidy Boothroyd has claimed he has an "utterly impossible job", with his team on the verge of an exit from Euro 2021.

Boothroyd's youngsters have lost their first two group matches in the rearranged tournament, to Switzerland and Portugal respectively.

The defeats have left England needing to beat Croatia by at least two goals on Wednesday, while hoping that Portugal overcome Switzerland, to reach the quarter-finals, which take place later this year.

Jadon Sancho, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mason Mount, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden are among the star names Boothroyd could have had at his disposal for the competition, though all of them are now seen as senior players, with only Liverpool full-back Alexander-Arnold not selected in Gareth Southgate's squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers.

Nevertheless, Boothroyd has still been able to call upon several players who are regulars for Premier League teams, though one of those – Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi – has suffered an injury and will miss the Croatia clash.

There has been doubt over Boothroyd's position, with England U21s having failed to make it out of the group in the 2019 Euros, after falling out in the semi-finals in 2017, but the former Watford manager has defended his work.

"I know the senior men's job has been called the impossible job but the U21s is the utterly impossible job," he told reporters.

"The reason is the amount of players who have to be produced for the senior team and we are expected to win.

"There's a reason why we haven't won this for 37 years and why we haven't progressed as much as we thought we would, because our primary aim is to get players through to Gareth [Southgate].

"Could you imagine a reserve-team manager knocking on the door of a senior manager at a club and saying 'listen boss, I think today you should let me have the best player to win the reserve championship'. That just wouldn't happen.

"The only team that needs to win is the senior team. Everywhere else, winning is part of it, drawing is part of it and having adversity is part of it.

"The reason I say that it is the utterly impossible job is because new players come in, younger players come in and the wheel starts again.

"My job isn't to say to Gareth we should have Jude, Phil or Mason, it is about the senior team and it always will be.

"If someone is doing this job and hiding players and not allowing them to go forward then the system is flawed. I don't want to be the whinge bag to defend myself. They are facts but they are what the job is."

Boothroyd replaced Southgate as U21 boss, with the now England manager having impressed the FA during his stint in charge of the youth team.

Asked for his view on the U21s' disappointing campaign, Southgate told a news conference: "I think it's a difficult balance. Nobody really thinks about the U21s until you get to the finals, then you are judged.

"It's development football, although those players are good players, they're normally surrounded by experienced players. When they are playing as an age-group together, it's a different challenge.

"It's always difficult to be U21 head coach. The timing of this tournament, coinciding with World Cup qualifiers. We want to try to win tournaments, we've benefited from that when the U17s and U20s won the World Cup.

"But development football throws up all sorts of things. I went to a European Championship, we had a fantastic game with Portugal that we lost. You never know what generation the other countries have got. When the results don't go your way, you find out so much about the players."

Related items

  • Jamaica 1-2 Mexico: El Tri back on track after late rally clinches key victory Jamaica 1-2 Mexico: El Tri back on track after late rally clinches key victory

    Mexico scored two goals in the final 10 minutes to revive their stuttering 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win over 10-man Jamaica in Kingston on Thursday.

    El Tri, who had lost their past two qualifiers against the United States and Canada, were staring down the barrel of a third straight loss when trailing 1-0 with 10 minutes left before their late rally.

    Henry Martin tapped home to equalise in the 81st minute, with Carlos Vega netting a dramatic winner two minutes later to ease the pressure on head coach Gerardo Martino.

    Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson had fired in a left-foot strike to put the Reggae Boyz ahead in the 51st minute after they had been reduced to 10 men prior to half-time when Damion Lowe was sent off after VAR review – introduced to CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for the first time – for a studs-up challenge.

    El Tri, who were without the injured Raul Jimenez and suspended Hirving Lozano, had early chances with Carlos Rodriguez and Vega both testing Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake in the first half.

    The win means Mexico move up to 17 points from nine qualifiers, temporarily moving above Canada – who play Honduras later on Thursday - into second spot in CONCACAF qualifying, one point behind USA who edged El Salvador 1-0. The result leaves Jamaica off the pace, with only one win and seven points from nine games.

  • United States 1-0 El Salvador: Robinson strike puts USA in box seat for qualification United States 1-0 El Salvador: Robinson strike puts USA in box seat for qualification

    Antonee Robinson's second-half strike earned the United States an unconvincing 1-0 victory over El Salvador to move a step closer to 2022 World Cup qualification on Thursday in cold conditions in Columbus.

    Fulham defender Robinson lashed home in the 52nd minute after Timothy Weah's good lead-up work in the decisive moment, as USA moved up to 18 points from nine games.

    USA temporarily moved into top spot in the CONCACAF qualifying standings, with Canada due to take on Honduras later.

    Jesus Ferreira, starting in a World Cup qualifier for the first time, burnt two first-half chances, before Robinson broke the deadlock early in the second half as USA stamped their superiority.

    The hosts pressed for a second goal, with El Salvador goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez acrobatically denying Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah's poke.

    El Salvador's best chance came in the 85th minute as Joaquin Rivas glanced Bryan Tamacas' cross wide, while USA fluffed opportunities with Weston McKennie and Gyasi Zardes headers.

  • Senegal defended by CAF medical doctor for handling of Mane head injury Senegal defended by CAF medical doctor for handling of Mane head injury

    Senegal have been defended by Confederation of African Football (CAF) medical doctor Dr. Thulani Ngwenya for their handling of Sadio Mane's head injury against Cape Verde.

    Mane received a nasty blow to the head in a collision with opposition goalkeeper Vozinha – who was sent off after a VAR review – in Tuesday's Africa Cup of Nations last-16 tie.

    The Liverpool forward was given treatment on the field but was allowed to stay on and subsequently curled in a brilliant opener for Senegal, who went on to win 2-0.

    However, Mane collapsed to the ground when celebrating his goal and was taken off shortly afterwards before being assessed at hospital.

    He later took to social media to assure worried supporters that "all is well", but brain injury association Headway criticised Senegal for allowing Mane to play on after the collision.

    "On the face of it, this seems to be yet another example of football putting results ahead of player safety," said Luke Griggs, deputy chief executive of Headway.

    "This was a sickening collision that clearly left both players in enough distress for a concussion to have surely been considered a possibility at the very least.

    "At that point, the principle of 'if in doubt, sit it out!' should have resulted in Mane being substituted without another ball being kicked."

    Griggs added: "This is now a real test of leadership for CAF and world governing body FIFA – particularly if Senegal declare Mane fit for Sunday's quarter-final.

    "If football wants to be taken seriously when it comes to concussion, it simply must take action to enforce and strengthen its protocols."

    But Dr. Ngwenya insisted Mane is in good hands with the Senegal medical team, who remain in dialogue with Premier League side Liverpool.

    "We have a very capable medical team. Senegal have two team doctors, who are highly commended," Dr. Ngwenya is quoted as saying by Sky Sports.

    "I know the team doctors are responsible, so they communicate with the club and I understand that they have actually communicated with Liverpool.

    "What I know is that after taking Mane for further investigations, we scanned the head and there was no structural damage, but that does not rule out concussion. 

    "I'm confident that my colleagues are taking care of the player and the player was in good spirits when I saw him in the hospital."

    Dr. Ngwenya added: "I've heard people say, 'why wasn't he removed from the game?' The medical assessment is based on what you see and assess at that particular time. 

    "The medical team spent quite a significant amount of time assessing Mane.

    "It might have been during the assessment the medical team came to a decision it was just a head collision, not concussion because they couldn't pick up anything that was concussion.

    "We need to give the benefit of the doubt to them because you can make an assessment at the time and then two minutes later it's different. 

    "But when I went in there were features of concussion, hence it was easy for me to actually make that call to say we need to remove the player out of the game.

    "The player is not capacitated to make a decision because they are confused, so it's you as a doctor that needs to make a decision on their behalf."

    Mane posted an image of himself back in the gym on his personal Instagram account on Thursday, accompanied by the caption "recovering".

    Despite potentially suffering from concussion after the sickening blow, he has not been ruled out of Senegal's quarter-final against Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.

    "I'm not sure if he will be available for the next match. When you look at the protocols, I don't know whether he will be ready. I can't make that assessment," Ngwenya said.

    "That judgement can only be made by the team doctors that are managing him on a daily basis."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.