Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick is backing Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka to bounce back after their penalty misses for England against Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
The Three Lions came agonisingly close to winning their first trophy since the World Cup in 1966, only for Italy to edge it on penalties after it finished 1-1 after extra time.
There was some surprise as youthful trio Rashford, Sancho and Saka stepped up to take crucial spot-kicks, and all ended up missing as Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was the hero.
Chadwick, who made 39 first-team appearances for Man Utd between 1999 and 2003, does not expect this to have a huge effect on the players, and is still backing Sancho to arrive at Old Trafford in good shape for the start of the new season.
“I think Saka stepping up was a big surprise, at his age,” Chadwick told CaughtOffside. “Who knows what goes on behind closed doors?
“We’ve seen on social media that Grealish volunteered himself to take a penalty, but obviously this is the choice we went with.
“There’s nothing we can do about it now, it happens. Kane and Maguire scored fantastic penalties so it feels worse that we were in the ascendancy but lost out in the end.
“I’ve got no worries or doubts about any of the players after this. I can’t imagine it will affect them, the best players all miss sometimes.
“Obviously there’ll be disappointment now, but when they look back on what they achieved in getting to the final, they’ll take confidence from that.
“I don’t think Sancho played as much as he would’ve liked over the tournament for England, but that maybe bodes well for Manchester United in terms of him hitting the ground running.
“I think he’ll make a fantastic impact, you can see what a confident lad he is with the way he plays the game so I don’t think it’ll affect him that he missed one of the penalties.”
Unfortunately for these players, as well as the disappointment on the pitch, they were subjected to horrific racist abuse on social media after the game, and Chadwick has hit out at the UK government and social media companies for their roles in the players’ treatment.
“I think if the government are saying at the start of the tournament that they’re happy for fans to boo what the players are trying to do – and the players have made it quite clear they’re not supporting a particular movement, they’re doing it for a reason to bring education,” Chadwick said.
“We’ve seen the awful scenes in America that brought all this to the fore. The players have taken the knee and they’ve spoken about it on social media, but these brilliant young men are still receiving messages on social media.
“Something surely has to change, but we’ve said this before about recent incidents with Ian Wright and Wilfried Zaha and not one thing’s changed. It’s hugely disappointing. You think we’ve come so far, but then you see the scenes of the fighting at Wembley, it’s soured what has been a wonderful few weeks of football that’s been brought about from a multicultural team from a whole range of backgrounds, coming together to bring us something so special, and for it to end this way is just so disgusting and disgraceful.
“Social media companies have to do a lot more to clamp down on this. When people have got that platform and think they can get away with it, hiding behind a screen, not using their real name … I don’t understand how these companies making billions of pounds can’t find a way to stop this from happening.
“It has to be at the forefront of their minds, surely it’s a criminal offence, people should be going to prison for these tweets. What’s the difference between saying it online or shouting it in the streets?”