When Tyrone Mings describes his forearm crash against Austrian center-forward Sasa Kalajdzic in England’s warm-up match for Euro 2020 last Wednesday, he’s not apologizing for the cynicism , lack of pity. On the contrary.
“Football is very sweet these days – you can’t get away with much,” said the Aston Villa center-half, although he got away with it. Austria were breaking through the left and when Kalajdzic raced into the zone Mings held on tight before throwing his left arm in the face of his opponent, sending him to the ground.
VAR would surely have awarded a penalty and sent Mings off and there was a lot of concern over what would have happened if the flash point had been at Euro, which starts for England against Croatia on Sunday.
Mings didn’t care. “I was unlucky, no, because I knew there was no VAR,” the 28-year-old said with a look of steel. ” It was not [a red card], was it? There are many different occasions that we can look at in my career and you might say, “If there was VAR in this game, I would have been sent off. “
The old joke is that ‘if’ is the most important word in football. If the referee had seen him, Mings admits, “maybe” he would have taken the red card. “If there had been VAR, absolutely, I would have given a penalty,” he said.
It is not clear if Mings was able to assess the lines of sight of the referee and his assistant, but the move looked very risky. Mings doesn’t see it that way. “As a defender I’ve done this several times in my career – when a cross is about to come in, block the forward,” he said. “It’s not against the rules. But this one was probably too aggressive.
A small concession then. But Mings wants to make a bigger point and he thinks it’s worth doing it and taking action when the final begins. “Being streetwise is a huge part of the game,” he says. “You look at other nations and they are masters of the dark arts – staying on the ground longer than necessary, delaying reboots. Being streetwise is also sometimes what gets you over the edge, as it ends the opposition and breaks their flow and rhythm.
“Everything has to come together for us to win the tournament. There are also other things that will be important. “
Mings is rather sharp when the subject of England’s defense in the warm-up matches – first Austria, then Romania on Sunday which ended in 1-0 victories – is brought up. “The defense may not have been as secure as you would have liked,” he said, pointing to the media. “But we kept two clean sheets, so we’re over the moon with that.” “
That’s true, but even Gareth Southgate, with more emphasis on Romania, said collectively the defense needs to improve. Looks like some top teams would punish England if given the same openings.
“Absolutely, the opposition had more chances, especially in the second game, than we would have liked to give and if you give better teams those kinds of chances, we would be punished and, maybe, not. would not have so many opportunities. forward, ”Mings says. “We realize that we have to be better.
Mings is a central figure in the discussion of how this can be achieved. He had a bad game against Romania and with Harry Maguire he is set to miss the game against Croatia as he feels receding from ankle ligament damage, Southgate has to decide if he can trust Mings to the John Stones sides in the center of a back four. Otherwise, and if he feels the same for Conor Coady and Ben White, he’ll revert to a three-way defense, which would impact the number of more offensive players he can field.
“I don’t really mind where I play – on the left [centre] of a four and to the left of a three are very, very similar positions, ”says Mings. “The only thing that’s different is you have an extra center-back that can cover, so sometimes the outside center-backs can kick in and be a little more aggressive whereas in a four you have to be a little more careful. Really, I’m just as happy to play in both.
Mings can’t hide his excitement just being here and at times like these it must be hard not to reflect on a career that was rejected by Southampton at 16 and played part-time away of the league while working as a mortgage advisor. He was at Yate Town in 2011-12 – three levels below the National League – and in the summer of 2012 he considered quitting the game and going full time in the mortgage business.
Mings, however, would move to Ipswich after impressing for Chippenham and he steadily reached his first major tournament, overcoming setbacks such as the knee injury suffered six minutes after making his Premier League debut for Bournemouth in August 2015, which he won. kept away. for more than a year.
“That’s a setup, that,” Mings said, glancing up at the base at St George’s Park in England. “We are all England fans and have watched the tournaments every time they take place, so seeing what goes on behind the scenes and being a part of it is just a dream come true. But at the same time, I have to have my professional head and realize that we are here to try to win the tournament.