In-form Gordon deserves Rashford’s England spot!

foot4live December 6, 2023
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Anthony Gordon for England! On-fire Newcastle winger more deserving of a Three Lions place than Marcus Rashford right now

The 22-year-old has been dubbed “one of the best players in the Premier League this season” and could end up representing his country at Euro 2024.

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The Premier League match between Newcastle and Manchester United on Saturday night provided analysts with an opportunity to compare Anthony Gordon and Marcus Rashford. The disparity was startling.

Gordon didn’t simply score the game’s lone goal or connect brilliantly with Tino Livramento down Newcastle’s left flank. He also worked diligently for his club, in contrast to Rashford, who, according to former England No.9 Alan Shearer, “didn’t look interested,” with the idea that the United attacker was dissatisfied with being switched from the left to the right side to accommodate Alejandro Garnacho.

So, in terms of head-to-heads, Gordon vs Rashford was as one-sided as the game itself, prompting even more calls for the Liverpudlian to replace the Mancunian in England’s squad.

“If you’re talking about current form,” ex-Scotland striker Ally McCoist remarked on TNT Sports, “Gordon has been playing far better.” This is notable in and of itself, given how much Gordon struggled last season while Rashford was on fire for United.

Touchline tantrum

When Newcastle bought Gordon from Everton in January, many questioned the amount of the transfer cost (an initial £40 million ($50 million) with the prospect of an additional £5 million in bonuses). Since making his professional debut in a Europa League encounter at the age of 16, the attacker’s potential had been clear, but six years later, there were valid concerns about his end product and temperament.

His first few months did little to calm the doubters. Gordon came on at halftime in a game against Brentford on April 8, only to be substituted in the dying seconds. He was enraged. Gordon pushed his manager’s arm away from him as Howe sought to explain the decision to him on the sideline before making his way to the bench.

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‘A young gamer discovering the game’

“You don’t want to see any player react like that because, suddenly, you will have a team that looks like it doesn’t have the discipline that it needs,” Howe said after the game. “I made a decision to try and do what I felt I needed to do to win the game based on Anthony going down holding his ankle and the fact that there were seconds left on the clock.” He needed to accept it and, if he had a problem, come see me privately.

“That’s how I felt he should have acted in that situation, but it’s a young player learning about the game and learning about us at the same time, so I’ve got no issue with him.”

Not least because Gordon apologized immediately for his acts. He also learned from them. He was unhappy inside when he was pulled off 54 minutes into his complete home debut against Southampton later that month, but “he didn’t let that show,” as Howe admitted. “There was no outward sign of a negative reaction to that, which you need in that situation.”

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Getting up to speed

Even still, those were trying times for Gordon. He felt like he was still playing catch-up three months after arriving at St James’ Park. Initially, he didn’t feel physically prepared for Howe’s high-energy style of game, and his progress was hampered by a slight ankle injury suffered in March. However, there were tactical concerns as well.

“I knew I wasn’t playing to the style of the team, which I didn’t fully understand, the way they were playing,” Gordon said this summer. “I won’t lie, it was difficult. The manager’s tactical detail is outstanding. And there’s a lot of it compared to what I’m used to.

“But he did warn me it would take a while [to understand], and the other players warned me too.”

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‘This season, one of the greatest players in the Premier League.’

The summer was a watershed moment. Gordon first profited from consistent game time with England Under-21s, who he helped win the European Championship with two goals and a string of inspirational performances that earned him the Player of the Tournament award.

As a result, he left for his summer vacation in high spirits. When he returned, he hit the ground running in pre-season training, starting the season fitter and more in sync with Howe and his teammates.

Gordon has started 12 of Newcastle’s 14 Premier League games so far, and that consistency has resulted in a steady supply of goals and assists. He has scored six goals in total, including one in each of Newcastle’s previous four home games, and has also provided three assists.

Gordon has been personally involved in more goals than any other Newcastle player this season, which explains why Sky Sports commentator Jamie Carragher has dubbed him “one of the best players in the Premier League this season.” “Carry on like this, and he’s going to the Euros!” added the former Liverpool defender.