'So happy he's not the coach' - fans react to Paul Merson's England starting XI for Iran World Cup match
| Last updated
Paul Merson has shown down the years that he isn't short of a controversial opinion or two.
The Three Lions will be hoping to get off to the best start possible in Qatar after reaching the Semi-final in their last two major international tournaments.
With Gareth Southgate facing some tricky selection dilemmas, Merson believes he has found some unorthodox solutions - although they're sure to divide opinion.
Here's Paul Merson's England XI for their first 2022 World Cup game... 💭🏆 pic.twitter.com/EGp4NFXNxl— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 22, 2022
Here's what the former Arsenal striker went for in his recent Sky Sports column.
GK: Jordan Pickford
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold
CB: Kyle Walker
CB: John Stones
LB: Kieran Trippier
CM: Declan Rice
CM: Mason Mount
CM: Phil Foden
LW: Marcus Rashford
RW: Raheem Sterling
ST: Harry Kane
While some of his picks are impossible to fault, like Harry Kane up top, Declan Rice in midfield and John Stones at the back, others are very bold - to say the least.
Most notably of all, Merson has decided to drop the out-of-favour Harry Maguire and replace him with Kyle Walker, who lines up at Centre-back alongside club-mate Stones.
This means that Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has also been struggling for form of late, fills in at Right-back.
Further up the pitch, the 54-year-old has rewarded Marcus Rashford's for his fine start to the season with a place on the wing for England alongside Kane and Raheem Sterling.
In the engine room, he's gone very attacking, picking Mason Mount and Phil Foden in the Central-midfield positions with Rice playing as the CDM.
Suffice to say, his starting XI didn't go down too well over on Twitter.
Lol so happy he’s not the coach 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣— Green Flag Forever 💚💚💚 (@hunchoisgreat) September 22, 2022
One person replied: "Lol so happy he's not the coach", with another adding: "Walker as a CB in a back four and Foden and Mount as 8s...this is so washed."
A third person pointed out that Rashford 'Isn't even in the current squad', while others questions Trent starting over Chelsea's Reece James.
Quite whether this team would lead England to success remains to be seen. All we do know is that, barring an injury crisis, Southgate won't be deploying this starting XI anytime soon.
The Three Lions boss does have some tough decisions to make before November's World Cup clash with Iran, however.
With Kalvin Phillips in a race against time to be fit for the tournament, there could be an extra space in the squad for a midfielder.
Issues persist in defence too, with Maguire unable to break back into the Manchester United starting XI due to Lisandro Martinez's lightning start at Old Trafford.
Let us know what you think of Merson's brave starting XI.