Why Cole Palmer Should Start For England

England is through to the Round of 16 of the 2024 Euros. The Three Lions topped their group, although their performances were subpar.

In a group with Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia, England were expected to be the dominant ones in Group C. That though, was not the case. They barely managed to beat Serbia 1-0, whilst they settled for a 1-1 draw with Denmark and a 0-0 draw with Serbia.


England are a team full of talent. Gareth Southgate’s squad has the Bundesliga top scorer – Harry Kane – the La Liga player of the season – Jude Bellingham – and the Premier League player of the season – Phil Foden. He also has Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is considered one of the best right-backs in English football, and Declan Rice, also considered one of the best midfielders in English football.

However, just as over the years, Southgate has been unable to make a combination of marvellous talents click into something spectacular. In this tournament specifically, he has put players in positions where they are not ineffective.

For one, Alexander-Arnold was deployed in the midfield against Serbia. That proved to weaken the squad rather than strengthen it, but the right-back was back in the midfield for the game against Denmark. Phil Foden has been playing on the left wing, Jude Bellingham as a number 10 and Harry Kane up front as the sole striker has not been effective against Serbia either. But for Denmark, Southgate made no changes. Keiran Tripper as left back was another weakness for the England squad but was a choice retained for all games.

Not only that, the same lineup that struggled against Serbia was not changed at all for the Denmark one. Even though Kobbie Mainoo came in as a substitute and made a difference in the Serbia game, he did not even get a chance to play against Denmark.

It was only for the Slovenia game that Southgate changed his lineup and formation. He moved from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3, with Foden and Bukayo Saka on either side of Harry Kane. Bellingham, Rice and Conor Gallagher were manning the midfield. The back four remained the same.

Game Changer

Despite a different formation, England still underperformed against Slovenia. It was still questionable why Kobe Mainoo was not being given a proper chance despite proving himself when he came on during the Serbia game.

What seemed even more questionable was Southgate choosing not to play Cole Palmer at all. Palmer played his first full season of Premier League football this past season when he joined Chelsea from Manchester City. Palmer had the most goal contributions in the Premier League, earning him the Premier League Young Player of the Season award. He also won the game-changer award of the season for his performance against Chelsea’s 4-3 win against Manchester United.

Whilst Chelsea struggled for almost the entirety of the 2023/24 season, Palmer thrived in the chaos. He was easily a game-changer for Chelsea all season long, able to fit into a system that was crumbling all around him. This alone should have warranted him a spot in the England squad one would have thought.

Palmer, however, was not even given a chance to come in as a substitute against Serbia to prove himself and try and work himself into the starting lineup. He also didn’t get to play against Denmark. It looked like Palmer would not get the chance to make his international major tournament debut during the group stages of the Euros until he was brought on in the 71st minute of the Slovenia game.

His impact was instantaneous. Both Palmer and Mainoo, who had come on for the start of the second half, easily became England’s best players. Whenever the Chelsea forward got on the ball, it looked as though something were to happen. He was a constant threat to Slovenia’s defence.

Palmer’s 2023/24 season was proof enough that he is a game-changer, even in a system that has no sense of stability. He proved it further when he came on against Slovenia. He and Mainoo were arguably England’s best players of the tournament despite playing only a handful of minutes.

England faces Slovakia in the Round of 16. Southgate’s best chance of beefing up his attack will most likely be by starting both Cole Palmer and Kobbie Mainoo.

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