Jamie Redknapp can’t understand why Gareth Southgate took Bukayo Saka off in England’s World Cup quarter-final against France.
Bukayo Saka put in a top performance against France in England’s World Cup quarter-final on Saturday, creating a big chance for Harry Kane and winning a penalty for an equaliser.
Yet when Olivier Giroud scored to retake the lead for France, Gareth Southgate’s decision was to take Saka off for Raheem Sterling.
Jamie Redknapp has questioned that decision, arguing that Saka looked like England’s most dangerous player on the night.
“They couldn’t handle Bukayo Saka,” Redknapp said. “He was too much for Hernandez all game, and I must admit, looking at it now, I couldn’t believe that Gareth [Southgate] took him off.
“If we’d have got a goal, we’d go to extra time, he was the player that every time we got the ball to him…he got me on the edge of my seat.
“I found that a really strange decision, obviously you’ve got to make substitutions and you want to try and affect the game. But that was certainly one, I would have kept him on every single second of that game.
“I’m sure Hernandez, when he saw [Saka] go off, took a huge sigh of relief.”
It’s hard to disagree with Redknapp. Theo Hernandez and Dayot Upamecano had huge problems with Saka all night, and they were largely bailed out by poor refereeing.
It was inevitable Saka’s positive play would eventually lead to something, as it did with the penalty. But he missed out on the chance to help England complete another comeback in the final half an hour.
England’s loss was Arsenal’s gain on this occasion, with Southgate’s side going on to lose the match and exit the World Cup.
Saka will now return to his club in time for the start of the Premier League season, though he’s likely to take a brief break first.