You know what to do: Send mails to firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh dear Nick Hamblin, Bristol. We’re 5 minutes into our first major tournament in 58 years and Wales have upset someone. The thing that you really don’t seem to understand is expectation. Your media expects you to win. Your fans expect you to win. You are England. You won the World Cup in 1966. You came really really close in ’90 and ’96. You invented football. You gave it to the world. One day you will win another major tournament and those players will all immediately receive knighthoods and another generation (or several) will live in their shadows.
Wales? We’re just happy to be there. Even with an expanded tournament, we never expected to qualify when the groups were drawn. We hoped, but we never expected. Once qualified, attention shifted to our new set of opponents. A draw against Slovakia and maybe we can sneak through on three draws. A win, well, we can but dream, but seeing as no British team has ever won their opening game at a Euro finals, we’re not going to take it for granted. After all, we’ve not won in a while and they neat Germany the other day. But, hang on, we did win. With a team including Chris Gunter, Darren Ward and Jazz Richards. And we played well? And Hal Robson-Kanu scored? It might only be one win, but it’s more than England have achieved so far, maybe we should be right to be positive? What’s wrong with our players being cocky ahead of today’s game? Nobody expects us to win. We might, and if we do it’ll be far more embarrassing for England than it would be for us if we lose. And after the first set of games a draw would be fine for us, whereas it would leave England going into a final game against Slovakia with the very real danger of only qualifying as a best 3rd place team. Whilst none of us believe yet that we are going to do a ‘Leicester’ or a ‘Greece’, the longer our adventure continues, the more we will believe. As has been pointed out be F365, we may have the world’s most expensive player, but we are not a one-man team. We are the sum of our parts. Gunter may be a sub-Championship level player at club level, but he is a intrinsic part of our team and system. We have a settled team and side who fight for each other, just like Leicester and Greece. Is that going to be enough? Who knows? But we expect nothing. Beat us later today and the English media will be full of expectation again.
So. I’m sorry we’ve hurt your feelings Nick, but really, what do you want? Should the Wales players be saying that we’re going to struggle against England? That we’ll be lucky to get a point? That we’re just glad to be here, making up the numbers? If there are more of your like out there that reckon that Wales are ‘turning into everything they hate’ after a couple of interviews, then I tell you what, long may it continue. The rest of us Brits have had to listen to the media bang on about England for the last 50 years with no foundation. We’re having a great time at this tournament so far, and why should we stop? Because we’re not showing England respect? Grow a pair.
James, Cymru am byth.
Long time reader and occasional (and sometimes successful) contributor to the Mailbox here, and I’ve been loving the blend of opinions over the course of the Euros so far. However, I’ve got to take umbridge with the most recent mailbox nd it’s title mail ‘Wales: becoming everything everybody hates about England’ by Nick, Bristol. I think it couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’m an Irishman. I’ve no particular bias to either of the teams in question. In fact, I’ve quite an interest in both teams, considering the significant stamp of my beloved Tottenham in both sides right now. However, in recent times, the English team has routinely infuriated me; along with many others, but not for their arrogance – In fact, quite the opposite.
In my memory, England have always had a wealth of talented players. A crop of stars that would make any team in the world. Players that have been integral to successful club teams across the past 20 years… and then they play for England, and their confidence and style evaporates.
The constant demands on England to mimic the style of other nations like Italy, Spain or Germany means players are shoe-horned into roles not made for them, and this, combined with the heavy weight of expectation that comes with being named the ‘New Golden Generation’ and the fear of being the inevitable scapegoat, has resulted in England producing fearful, tepid, tame displays in touranments over the past decade. It’s as if each player is awaiting the inevitable collapse and just prays it won’t be blamed on them. In all honesty, I think it would be refreshing to hear an English player come out and announce their intentions to go the whole way, instead of battening down the hatches before the competition even begins! And to their credit, this latest group look most likely to do that!
I contrast that with Wales, who like my own country Ireland, know exactly what ind of team they are, and play to their strengths. There’ll be no talk of tiki-taka, nor will it be missed. Instead, they are groups of grafters who will rely on pride, workrate and a slice of luck to help them along. Wales are doubling down on this occasion as they are lucky to have a generational talent like Bale at the moment – Why can’t they dream? It may be their best chance for decades!
These competitions are festivals for football’s finest players, so let Wales be optimistic – England could learn something from that.. What harm could a little optimisim do?
Andreas, (THFC) Eire
I’m pretty surprised the Welsh are being accused of arrogance, although being masters of it the English should know it when they see it I suppose.
For example, every newspaper writes about Wales as a foreign country, with guides about danger men and tactics. Or perhaps BBC could remove their belittling “England and Wales – choose your dream eleven!” page. How dare a player like Bale (previously it was Giggs) choose to play for the country of his birth when he could have chosen the mighty English – through a distant relative admittedly. Or perhaps how half time coverage of Wales’ first match in an international tournament for 58 years is interrupted for a riveting interview with Jordan Henderson.
No Wales fan seriously believes we will win the thing. We are having the time of our lives supporting a side we are immensely proud of, that gives everything in each match they play and leaves nothing in the dressing room. Each player plays like every fan imagines they would play for their national side. Also note the difference in comments before Slovakia – full of grace and humility and cliché. Bale and Ramsey have been trolling the English, and they hate it – but all bullies are the same. They can give it but can’t take it.
I’m quite confident about the match. England need to win, we do not. England will pour forward, leaving space for Bale to exploit. The English defence is a pale shadow of what it was 10-15 years ago. The ingredients are there for a famous victory. It can not be doubted that Wales have a superior team ethic to England, but England have much greater strength in depth. Subbing Vardy on for Kane is pretty much like for like, replacing one of the best strikers in the Premier League last season with another. Giggs or Ramsey go off, and get replaced by Championship players.
Good luck Wales, we fans will love you whatever the result today, and this tournament will be with us all till the day we die.
So, there’s been a fair amount of stuff being said about Wales’ passion, our attitude and from one Mr Nick Hamblin how we’re becoming everything everybody hates about England. The thing is, you don’t “get” Welsh passion. You just don’t.
I don’t agree with Gareth Bale that Wales fans have more passion than England fans (although the lad does seem like a bit of a wind up merchant, so I’m not sure he does either), but it is different.
I’m nearly 30 years old, and I have never seen my country play in an international tournament, hell, if I was 50 I wouldn’t have. Being passionate, loving your team, takes commitment when you routinely fail to qualify. England fans have seen their team on the biggest stages in almost every major tournament since they won the World Cup (when was that again?). So the cynicism sets in, constantly set up for failure, when every time you demand victory, it’s hard to love your country when all they do is let you down.
Being a Welsh fan is not like that, it’s like supporting a lower league team, like Woking or something. You grow up knowing that you will never win a championship, that you probably won’t qualify, and there is something in that, that unites us. We are proud when our boys put in a good performance, even if we lose, because f*ck it, what else were we going to do? There is a pride in watching some of the greatest players in the world (at the time), like Giggs, or Hughes or Rush or Bale or Vinnie Jones choosing to play for Wales, when they could have gone elsewhere. Because they’re Welsh, and that means something.
We don’t look at other nations, take a glance at France, Germany and Spain and envy their production lines of talent. We don’t care, what are our boys doing? That’s all that matters. There are just over 2 million of us, and half our good young athletes end up playing rugby, this isn’t supposed to happen. We don’t qualify for things, that’s what we do.
And now we’re here, at an international tournament, 58 years since the last one. We’re a non-league club in the 5th round of the FA Cup, so forgive us if we’re f*cking dreaming. None of us, I promise you, genuinely think we are going to win, but for the first time in almost 60 years, it’s not out of the realms of possibility. Greece have won this tournament, all the favourites look a bit ropey this year, it’s actually doable….
But here’s what your average England fan (or at least the press) don’t get: if we make it out of the group, and even if we don’t, we will still care about our boys. There’ll be no condemnation of our lads, whether there’s a slip, or penalty given or missed, and we won’t be sending bullets to the house of one of the young boys if he gets sent of for kicking Diego Simeone. Because Christ, those lads have done us proud.
Geraint Evans, Welsh and Proud, Swansea ‘til He Dies.
Bale is a t*sser, isn’t he?
Ed, do not, repeat, DO NOT read the mail from the Silent Majority, the mail was not brief, despite jarringly boring claims to the contrary, just a little bit pompous and quite correctly titled the mail nobody has been waiting for…So before you reply Ed, think of England, we don’t need any more aggro now or we could be facing a UEFA sanction…..I enjoy your posts Ed and long may they continue….Silent Majority please return to your previous observation only state, if you don’t have anything nice to say…..
Speaking of tossers, Gareth Bale is rapidly developing a tosser like persona isn’t he? Glad the England camp have largely not risen to the bait, let the ball do the talking lads…I hope we don’t eff this one up too…same side as against Russia, but use the bench Woy, that’s what it’s there for….
El Nino (what are the odds on Eddie Howe as a late entry Independent US Presidential Candidate? You can do it Eddie!) AFCB
Here’s Ed (leave him alone, you d*cks)
Back again, to give people something to whinge about having to read on a free website they clicked onto of their own volition. F365 even puts my name in the header so you know to skip it.
*Switzerland v Romania seemed quite feisty. At some point it felt like a proper old-fashioned game, before scouting was particularly widespread, when the tactic for dealing with unknown quantities was just to kick the opposition as hard and as often as possible.
*The real highlight of the game, though, was the referee right before the penalty. You can’t put a price on fastidiousness like that, and as it happened, there wasn’t any encroachment.
*I’m going to approach France’s games in future like F1 car driving races – watch the first minute to see if anyone gets clattered, do something else for a bit and then watch the last few minutes to see them win.
*French blushes were spared by Antoine Griezmann, and then another great finish from Dimitri Payet added an unmerited gloss (unmerited for the team, not Payet, he had another good game) to the scoreline. Despite the gulf in quality, Albania by no means disgraced themselves. Qualification for them remains unlikely but not impossible, as they play Romania next.
*France’s left side looks very vulnerable. Patrice Evra had a shocker in the first half, and at different times, Anthony Martial, N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud were all drafted in as reinforcements. Albania clearly targetted that side, but any of the other tournament favourites will either unlock that side, or exploit the extra space elsewhere.
*Paul Pogba did make a difference when he came on. He drove play forward when he could, but didn’t obstruct his teammates. Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that all the players had a clearer definition of their roles in the team.
*Martial and Kingsley Coman brought a lot more dynamism to this game. Martial made a bright start in an attacking sense, although on around 20 mins he looked like a victim of Louis van Gaal’s coaching – he got into a good position and took a touch to control, where other players may have instinctively shot first time. Unfortunately for Martial, the defender closed him down and the chance went begging.
Coman’s skills were positively Zaha- or Bolasie-esque, even to the point of being unable to find a striker with a cross afterwards.
*It’s amazing which bits of Sunday league football parlance go global – Abrashi, when shown a yellow card for a cynical foul, was at pains to tell the referee it was his first foul.
*Perhaps the saddest moment of the whole tournament is this: ITV had two games yesterday, Andy Townsend and Clive Tyldesley both worked, but on different games. “For me, Sam” doesn’t have the same ring to it (especially because he didn’t say it).
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
The tournament of the ‘middle teams’?
After watching yet another late France winner (i.e. Griezmann’s header, something Giroud couldn’t convert 4 or 5 times during the match) and subsequent second goal by Payet (West Ham exit sooner than later?), I get the feeling this team shouldn’t be tipped to be favourites. Where’s the dominance of the supposedly overwhelmingly talented Big Teams (those tipped to win it or be thereabout)?
When you have Deschamps nervously eating his nails half the game in the dugout, and reddening as the game goes on without goals, somehow putting the goal duty in the hands of Giroud who simply isn’t as clinical as he is sold to be, Payet creating most of the chances, midfield struggling for quality possession despite Kanté (surprised he didn’t get an earlier booking by the look of things), defense a bit slow with its full-backs but at least solid with Rami and Koscielny as centre-backs.
Albania, who most people still regard as a weak team, were tonight the opposite of a weak team. Solid, patient, extremely composed. “Small teams”, like CR7 would say, are putting up a fight against the talent-filled big teams who are quite surprisingly underwhelming. Did the fans expectations go to the players heads? Is that even an excuse anymore?
Maybe this Euro will be the mid-level teams to take: Italy, Croatia, Wales, Hungary or even Switzerland. Not as talented as the “Big Teams”, but with enough talent to guarantee quality plays and definitely more solidity and organisation than the said teams.
The big OG
Olivier Giroud is awful. Not “was” awful. *Is* awful. Utter dross.
I have just watched the France game at the pub and not really in a place to research the statistics…
But has anyone ever won so many headers in the box without scoring as Giroud seems to?
I wonder sometimes how many more chances would be created if he didn’t out jump everyone only to head it over the bar.
Rob A (Kante…wow) AFC
Thoughts after the France vs Albania game….
You simply won’t win anything with Giroud.
Joseph Weggoro, Tanzania
Berahino to City
If Berahino is ‘only’ £5 million quid, Man City should grab him… nice homegrown quota filler there.
His ego should convince him to sign for us, thinking he has a chance of making the team every now and then. Then we can flog him to Villa in a year or two when they come back up to the PL.
Go on Pep, sign him up!
Ben (not keeping his balls in the fridge, but knowing a man who has) MCFC, Manchester.
It’s a fix
Tottenham have been given an away game to start next season. Fair enough. But we’re also playing away on the final day of the season. This also happened this season just finished. Am I legitimate in feeling hacked off by this? I thought if you had an away game at the start of the season, you were supposed to finish the season with a home game, or vice versa. That’s 2 seasons running that I feel my team has been hard done by. Anyone else experienced this? Or am I getting narked about nothing?
Most confusing XI
I’ve watched most of the games in the Euros so far and it’s been as entertaining as ever. Seeing the pundits mispronounce and mix up some of the names, I thought it would be cool to make an XI that would confuse even the most experienced pundits and commentators alike. The rules are simple, for each outfield player, there must be one other player with the same or a similar name. My formation is a 3-4-1-2.
GK – Open to suggestions
CB – Djourou (Johann) – Switzerland
CB – Carvalho (Ricardo) – Portugal
CB – Alaba (David) – Austria
WBL – Alba (Jordi) – Spain
WBR – Danilo – Brazil
MC – Carvalho (William) – Portugal
MC – Danilo – Portugal
AMC – Eder – Italy
ST – Eder – Portugal
ST – Giroud (Olivier) – France
I’m sure someone with more time could do an all time XI or an alternative XI of current players.
Declan, Ireland (MUFC)
Keepers > strikers
One of your knee jerk Euro 2016 reactions was to (quite rightly) point out the paucity of genuinely top class strikers this summer. As true as that may be, the polar opposite must be said for keepers.
Neuer, De Gea, Lloris, Cech, Buffon, Cortois, Hart, Kiraly. Has there been a better selection on display at a major tournament?
Have you met an Icelander?
In response to Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland, yes I have met one. I am married to one. If they win this thing I will never hear the fucking end of it. But if they win it and Alfred Finnbogason is top scorer I win 50k. Marriage is all about compromise.
David (Cant afford to put the name Finnbogason on my jersey), Sydney
We have two Icelandic people in our office of 300 in London. Iceland is so small and isolated that they both have had to download an app to tell them whether they are related to fellow Icelandic people they have met before anything, um, happens.
Top that, BBC Football.
Of the 5 players starting in midfield for Switzerland, none were actually born in Switzerland. There was also one more player born outside the country, making 6 of the starting 11, coming from Kosovo, and Macedonia. Can anyone think of a team in an international competition with a “better” record? Germany 2010 springs to mind.
KC(still better than rugby in this respect)
Running, running and running, running and…
Fair point. Though you would expect a disproportionate amount of substituted players to have run above the team average, thus making them more tired than their teammates and justifying their withdrawal.
Eamonn (Just facking run about a bit) Istanbul
Michelangelo in Basel asks why substituted players always seem to have run more than the team average:
1. A manager is more likely to sub off players who are knackered from a lot of running.
2. Other than for injury, it is rare to sub off a centre half, who cover far less ground than anyone else due to the nature of their position.
Andy (Also I suspect the TV company only puts the stat up there when it looks impressive) in London
Love for Ed
Hey – back off on the Ed-bashing!
One of the reasons I read the mailbox everyday is to be informed and/or entertained. I love seeing Ed’s name there, cos I know I’ll enjoy it. Just like Stewie’s.
(No offence, Ed).
Tim, THFC Adelaide