Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Højbjerg being publicly criticised in a Tuesday interview by his national team manager Åge Hareide is continuing to be big news in Denmark.
Hareide tried to backtrack on Tuesday afternoon, explaining there’s no issue between the two men and Højbjerg will be watched in action at the weekend, but he probably shouldn’t have kicked the whole thing off in the first place.
Højbjerg was presented as having an attitude problem when not picked, with Hareide saying this wasn’t limited to the national team but had happened at Bayern Munich and Southampton as well… much to the surprise of Saints fans.
Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet have a big article on the fuss, and point out Højbjerg is ‘playing at a higher level’ than most of his midfield competitors for a place in the Denmark squad.
Ekstra Bladet call it a ‘paradox’, saying: ‘Danish football has a luminous talent in the Premier League week after week. He gets playing time and does it quite well for his club. But the national team is not a theme. Not because he is not good enough. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is just not Åge Hareide’s cup of tea. And so he risks losing a World Cup finals.’
Former Denmark international Mikkel Bischoff is quoted as saying: “He could mirror Nicklas Bendtner and the way he returned. He has committed himself to and contributes significantly and is working hard. Maybe he suffers from Bendtner’s attitude and humility.”
Whoah. Hang on a minute. Højbjerg may have managed to annoy Hareide with his frustration at not being picked, and the midfielder may have gone about things the wrong way… but that hardly puts him in the Bendtner bracket.
The former Arsenal striker has a charge-sheet (some of it quite literally involving criminal charges) longer than Højbjerg will ever match.
Åge Hareide has done an excellent job of creating a drama where there needn’t be one.
As for 22 year old Højbjerg, yes, perhaps he does need to be mature and respectful to his national manager, only the two really know, but he’s hardly going to feel protected and respected himself now.
Southampton manager Mark Hughes may need to share some of his wisdom with the youngster.