Liam Brady takes epic cut at England and Gary Lineker
Liam Brady is watching it all unfold at a bemused distance.
It was all going so well between Gareth Southgate's England and the media. Just over a week into the World Cup and we have a tremor. Over in the RTe studios, Liam Brady was sitting back and watching it all unfold.
Southgate has rejected reports that notes from a training session revealed his starting XI for Sunday's clash with Panama.
A Daily Mirror photograph snapped at a session on Thursday led many to believe that Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli would be replaced by Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek for England's second World Cup Group G game.
But Southgate, who previously insisted upon more stringent privacy measures in the England camp, has claimed that the notepad which was held by assistant manager Steve Holland had actually given nothing away.
The England boss also appeared unhappy with the eagerness with which English media outlets have recently pounced on apparent team leaks.
— Johnny Goldsmith (@MirrorJohnny) June 21, 2018
While it is the job of reporters in Russia to publish any exclusive information they might have, Southgate has suggested that national allegiance should come first by insisting that journalists were simply providing a disadvantage to the English team by giving away tactics.
"There is a squad of 23 names on the sheet," Southgate told talkSPORT. "The next sheet has different players in different positions because we swap people in and swap people out.
"The stories are then run as they are. For me, it’s no drama.
"Obviously any time, if we were to give the opposition the opportunity of having our team it’s a disadvantage to us so of course our media has to decide whether they want to help the team or not. But given that it was just a squad list, it doesn’t really make any difference to us really."
He then doubled down by claiming, "Our media has to decide if they want to help the team or not."
Battle lines drawn.
Southgate rebuke to media today when asked about Steve Holland team sheet leak gaffe: “Obviously any time, if we were to give the opposition the opportunity of having our team it’s a disadvantage to us. So of course our media has to decide if they want to help the team or not.”
— Dan Roan (@danroan) June 22, 2018
It is a big talking point and has cropped up in relation to Ireland's football and rugby teams in the past, too - is it the job of reporters to present the news as they see it or to pull together for the national good?
In the RTE studio, former Arsenal and Ireland midfielder Liam Brady was enjoying it all:
"Well it's typical of England, isn't it? They try and shoot themselves in the foot [at] every World Cup they go to.
"The last couple of days, they [the English press] have been praising Gareth Southgate up to the eyeballs - saying what a great job he is doing at the moment. Gary Lineker described their performance the other night as exceptional. Well, it wasn't exceptional. We know that.
"They need to keep their feet on the ground. This will be a bit of a storm in a tea-cup but I suppose Southgate is putting a marker down."
Indeed, Lineker was extremely effusive in his praise of England after their 2-1 win over Tunisia. Perhaps too effusive.
Of course, some English reporters are not exactly siding with Southgate:
Weird comments by Southgate. The media’s role is to report, not ‘help the team.’ Those not ‘helping the team’ are the ones who leak it to the media in the first place. And if a coach has it on a piece of paper in front of the cameras, well...
— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) June 22, 2018
If we don't beat Panama, it'll be nothing to do with the team being known in advance. https://t.co/wfWHIiWbOw
— Sam Munnery (@SamMunnery) June 22, 2018
Probably also worth rebuking his assistant for walking around in an open training session with a copy of the team in his hand. https://t.co/YwPBYd1G7m
— Paul Hirst (@hirstclass) June 22, 2018
And it was all going so swimmingly...