It’s hard not to feel sorry for Gareth Southgate.
England’s XI for Sunday’s World Cup match has been leaked after assistant Steve Holland was snapped holding training notes during a session in Repino on Thursday.
The notes appear to suggest that Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Marcus Rashford will start in place of Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling in a 3-5-2 formation.
Southgate hit out at the media following the leak, asking them whose side are they on.
“Obviously any time, if we were to give the opposition the opportunity of having our team it's a disadvantage to us,” the England boss said, insisting that the piece of paper wasn’t actually the starting line-up.
"So of course our media has to decide if they want to help the team or not."
Kyle Walker revealed that Holland has apologised for allowing the note to be seen.
Gary Neville reacts
“He gave his apologies and said it was the first time he had messed up in 20 years, which we had a bit of a laugh about because his refereeing skills are not great,” Walker joked.
“It was a bit of banter, we move on and are looking forward to the game now.”
But while England’s players can laugh about it, Gary Neville doesn’t see the funny side.
Neville was England’s assistant in 2014 when he was photographed carrying a sheet of paper that included tactics ahead of the World Cup opener against Italy.
So he knows how Holland will be feeling right now.
And Neville sent a series of tweets blasting the media for leaking England’s team.
“It undermines the relationship and trust with the team,” Neville wrote.
The most pertinent tweet came when Neville reflected on his own experience.
“I was where Steve Holland was 4 years ago and you feel like you’ve let your team / coaching staff down,” he added.
Neville was responding to journalists who were arguing that they were simply doing their jobs.
The relationship between the media and the England camp has been much improved in Russia; a friendly darts competition has helped that.
But it’s clear that England want more support from the media.
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