Euro Zone: How Paul Gascoigne kept his haunted house free of ghosts

Gareth Southgate gets inundated with advice on England’s starting XI, while Declan Rice responds to criticism from ‘bitter’ James McClean

Former England player Paul Gascoigne has been doing the punditry rounds lately. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

It’s been good to see Paul Gascoigne doing the punditry rounds lately, having suffered no end of ill health, his old pal Paul Merson reminiscing on his podcast about the time they shared a house when they were both playing for Middlesbrough.

Gascoigne announced one day that he wanted to buy a house nearer to his parents, so he went to see “a beautiful hall”. He wasn’t even put off when the estate agent told him it was haunted, snapping it up.

He then arranged for the house to be painted, the gardens tidied up and the locks changed on the doors and the windows. On being asked why he wanted the locks changed, he replied: “So the ghosts can’t get in.” And, Merson stressed, “he was serious”.

Southgate not short of inspiration

Gareth Southgate hasn’t been short of advice from ex-pros on what changes he should make to his team. In their XIs, Wayne Rooney and Micah Richards both replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold (TAA) with Anthony Gordon, while Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Jermaine Jenas swapped him for Kobbie Mainoo.


Neville, Jenas and Jamie Carragher also brought in Gordon, but in place of Phil Foden, while Carragher gave TAA’s slot to Conor Gallagher. Scholes switched TAA to left back, dropped Bukayo Saka for Cole Palmer and also left out Kieran Trippier – as did Jenas who brought Joe Gomez in at left back.

Stuart Pearce was the only one to omit Harry Kane, but his main worry was his old position of left back. “Potentially put a Bukayo Saka there.” All agreed, then.

Croatia's midfielder Luka Modric. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Quote of the day

“Football is merciless. It gives you smiles, but sometimes it makes you sad.”

A heartbroken Luka Modric after Croatia’s concession of that injury time equaliser to Italy.

Number of the day: 57

The percentage of voters in a Daily Express poll who wanted Southgate sacked before the Slovenia game, most choosing Jurgen Klopp as his replacement. Seriously.

Word of mouth

“It might be a bit of bitterness towards me not playing for Ireland, but I’ve not got a bad word to say about him.” – Declan Rice v James McClean? There’s no end to it.

‘It might be a bit of bitterness towards me’ - Declan Rice responds to criticism from James McCleanOpens in new window ]

“We will qualify, draw with Slovakia. It’s arranged. It would be a shame if we both didn’t go through. Why risk it?” – Former Romanian international Danut Lupu giving Uefa palpitations by suggesting Wednesday’s game between his country and Slovakia is, eh, already decided.

“Don’t take the piss out of us because we lost a game! That’s not acceptable! There is venom coming from all sides, and I inject the venom inside myself if it’s not!” – It’s time to make Luciano Spalletti’s press conferences pay-per-view.