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Wales: Becoming everything everybody hates about England
For years, when England were the only home nation to qualify for major tournaments and our neighbours were asked why they would be supporting our opponents, one of the major reasons always given was our arrogance – our belief that we would/could win any of them when we stood ‘NO’ chance whatsoever.
It occurs to me that coming into Euro 2016, despite being the only team to have qualified with a 100% record, recording impressive friendly wins over France and Germany and being fourth favourites according to the bookies (in UK and abroad), expectations seem largely to have been kept in check. I’ve yet to speak to anyone who thinks we will go all the way, with the vast majority (including myself) predicting a quarter-final exit, though possibly last 16 if the draw isn’t kind, or possibly sneaking into the semis if it is.
What brings this into focus for me is the quotes coming from our Welsh brethren (players and fans), who suddenly seem to be supremely confident – some might even say ‘arrogant’ – of their chances; not just against England tomorrow, but in the competition as a whole.
Ultimately, Wales do genuinely have a very good squad right now; possibly the best in their history, but can they not see their hypocrisy? Gareth Bale may have had tongue firmly in cheek when suggesting that no England player would make the Welsh team but other quotes from him and Aaron Ramsey in particular have been a bit more cutting.
Yes, they should be proud of their team and their achievements, yes they should be confident when playing anyone (within reason), yes they should be flying the flag for their country, but talk of ‘doing a Leicester and winning the thing?’ Given that we apparently ‘big ourselves up before we’ve achieved anything’, that’s a bit rich. If they lose, they’ll say how they were always underdogs, but they’re still setting themselves up for an almighty fall. In short, they’re becoming everything that they hate.
Nick Hamblin, Bristol
England? Nobody is scared of England?
I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw Lallana’s interview yesterday, where he stated that all other teams always raise their game against England and that the England players thrive on this…It’s the kind of Fergie ‘they raise their game against Utd’ argument…Sorry Adam but England really are not to be classed as a Man United on the international scene, more of a Newcastle if we’re honest !
Firstly I agree that the home nations do raise their game against the home nations, whether this is something England thrive under is very debatable.
In terms of this attitude of game raising being applied to other major footballing nations it’s complete BS and actually just arrogant and hilarious. Even if this was true a woeful tournament record very clearly shows that England don’t thrive under this type of thing…
I work with a lot of Germans and Spainish, they see English football as being really entertaining but at the same time being technically and tactically inferior.
Oh and here’s the big one they actually see England as for all their thundering into tackles plus blood and guts mentality as being actually mentally weak …I kinda agree, so many peno shoot-out losses can’t all be bad luck surely ?
Just because around tournament time when the media asklLegends from other countries “do England have a chance?” and they say “yes they are one of the favourites”, let’s be honest they don’t really mean it, they’re never gonna say “actually they’ll be lucky to reach the quarters”.
Acceptance of where you are is the first step on the road to recovery, is what I once paid a lady €100 an hour to tell me…I can give her your number if you like England squad ?
Oh, I’ll be hammered if you publish this one !!
England need an early goal
Judging by the pre-match chatter, Wales are going to park the bus.
England need an early goal to make them come out, and expose the space.
If they do so I can see England winning comfortably.
Should England fail to break them down within the hour, or even concede first, I think Wales will frustrate us, and expose our lack of creativity around the box.
I can see a repeat of Uruguay in the World Cup, Bale instead of Suarez.
England need an early goal, and if Kane gets it, I can see his confidence shooting sky high from then on.
It’s not going to be pretty, it may will be a draw, but Come on England.
A coventarian in Paris
Where’s Portugal’s No. 9?
Does any other European nation have such a problem position like Portugal and their inability to produce an international standard number 9? I genuinely can’t think of another team that goes into the same tournaments time and time again with the same glaring hole as Portugal do up top. In 10 years they’ve completely failed to replace Pauleta with anyone even semi-competent, which must be all the more frustrating when you consider the one thing you can still depend on Portugal for is a glut of tricky wide men who can deliver a ball. Last night we were all treated to watching Portugal’s two best wingers sandwiched between the Icelandic back four, feeding off hopeful crosses.
You know you’re scraping the barrel when your Plan A is to get Vierinha – average winger come sh*t fullback – pumping balls up to a static Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani for 60 minutes before hitting the big red button and bringing on Chelsea Legend Ricardo Quaresma for more of the same. Sure, Ronaldo is generally amazing in the air and on another day Nani buries that chance in the first half but the only reason you have all your wingers crossing to each is the total lack of an even passable frontman. We English like to moan about our left midfield but good grief, you’d tear your hair out if you were Portuguese!
If I were their FA, I would get on to the census bureau and scour the world for any young strikers with even the faintest connection to Portugal and start grooming them now. In the meantime, I would give Mario Gomez a ring to see if he fancied changing his name to Mário Gomes. If it worked for Neustadter surely it’s worth a try?
Simon (being particularly unproductive today) CFC
Forgive me, but how is Ronaldo’s criticism of Iceland’s defensiveness and limited style of play any different from the repeated denunciations of teams playing ‘anti-football’ by Barcelona players?
Slightly churlish given the circumstances, and more than a little self-indulgent, but scarcely any different from what Barcelona say of every opponent who tries to stifle them, and every use of ‘parking the bus’ to criticise defensive play.
…“Pft. All interviews with footballers are pointless. They have nothing interesting to say, and the ones that do have been so media trained that they won’t say it anyway. It’s rubbish – 24-hour football, but no one will say anything even close to ‘of interest’.”
“Have you seen what Ronaldo said about Iceland?”
“Hit him! Hit him with sticks!!”
More Ronaldo pokage
Cristiano Ronaldo earns €362,000 a week after tax.
The population of Iceland is 332,529.
Cristiano Ronaldo could give everyone in Iceland €50 for their birthday and he would still have on average over €40,000 a week to spend on himself.
And yet it is him whinging about small mentalities. I’d suggest a long hard look in the mirror is required but that would probably prove counter-productive.
John (De Bruyne + Hazard < Wes Hoolahan), Galway
Every day’s a school day
In case anyone missed it I thought I’d summarise all the things I now know are larger than the population of Iceland:
– The population of Bristol
– The population of Wakefield
– “many European towns” (unspecified)
– Just 0.53% of Ronaldo’s Instagram following
An excellent question
Given their tiny population, you should run a poll, ‘Have you ever met an Icelandic person?’
I am quite sure I haven’t. And I went to an international school growing up in Geneva (a fairly international place)
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Have you ever met somebody from Iceland?
Iceland music corner
Was anybody else disappointed that Iceland’s national anthem wasn’t just 12 minutes of post-rock atmospherics?
I just sort of always assumed that it’d sound like Sigur Ros’s Svefn-g-englar.
Stu (acheeeyyoooooo), London
A history graduate writes…
I missed the Austria-Hungary game yesterday. Who were they playing
Andrew Warmington, THFC (I’m here all week)
Do drunken football fans know how annoying they are?
I don’t really like Paddington Station at about 6pm on a Saturday. Reason is that you can guarantee there will be loud, drunken football fans plodding about in packs. It’s not just the fans of London clubs either; it’ll be fans going home from away days in London. You’ll see Swindon, Exeter, Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea, Reading and Forest Green, as well as Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, QPR and Brentford. They’re harmless enough, and there’s rarely any trouble, even with all of these different shirts mingling and drinking and repeatedly chanting the name of their beloved team towards the fans who declare their love for another team.
They drink, they swear, they engage in banter – some fairly aggressive, some often very funny. If there’s ever a moment where it looks as though one of the pack might take it a step too far and try to physically attack someone else then there seems to be a closely observed level of self-policing. They egg each other on and they drink and they bicker and they laugh, but – genuinely – there’s very little violence that I see.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that to be in their company, waiting for your train to Swindon, knowing it’s going to be packed with these folk, isn’t exhaustingly tiresome and off-putting. Despite the above, you can’t help but be on edge when they’re drinking and carrying on, getting louder and louder, more vociferous and often the banter-level more personal and aggressive. A standing-room-only train carriage with this bunch carrying on as they do, even though I know that they’re really not there to fight or cause trouble, is horrible. What a miserable way, and what a feckless bunch of gormless trolls, to spend an hour.
Now imagine trying to police that in Marseilles. In the last calendar year, you’ve had a terrorist tackled on a train, you’ve had the editorial staff of what amounts to France’s version of Viz/Private Eye magazine gunned down in broad daylight, you’ve had the Bataclan AND the Stade De France bombed on the same evening. You’re already on edge, you’re already aware that Marseilles has a very territorial and dangerous Ultras group, and you’re aware that the Russian fans are en-route (trust me, the French Police would have already been briefed about the Russians).
So the last thing you need, and what really doesn’t help anything at all, is the English fans acting, well, like English fans do every 6pm at Paddington Station. On the surface they’re boisterous yet harmless, but blinkin’ Nora, that kind of behaviour is a powder keg to the people who want to take things further. I just don’t think England fans are fully aware of how their drunken bants for days is viewed by the wider public.
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite
Common sense from England please
I want to talk about England. Not the ‘who should play’ or ‘why’s Harry Kane on corners’, but about expectations.
I’ve watched a decent amount of most games in the competition so far, including most of both of yesterday’s matches, and the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the difference between teams who are able to get the basics right and those who can’t. By basics I mean things like playing players in positions where they can have an impact. Players understanding the formation and their roles within the team, and those of their team-mates. Players making the right decisions time and again. The teams and squad looking like a cohesive unit.
The best illustration of the difference was the Italy – Belgium game, as anyone who watched the match and coverage will have seen. But I watched Hungary play with purpose and beat Austria yesterday and then Iceland deliver the result of the tournament so far and I found myself thinking, if these teams can get themselves drilled and organised and have a clear identity (dare I say, philosophy?), why on earth can’t England?
Man for man we have better players then Hungary or Iceland. Our manager is extremely experienced and well-travelled across Europe, having managed in a number of different countries, and at international level twice before. So why do we look wobbly at the back when Iceland can look pretty solid against Portugal? Why does it appear a mystery as to what we’re intending to do from game to game? How do we struggle to solve problems like where to find space, or how to break sides down? And why can’t our players seem to make the right decisions under pressure?
Some expectations we (the fans and media) place on the team can be unhelpful and might add pressure – we should win/get to the last four etc…, but I firmly believe it’s not unreasonable to expect England to send out a team who understand the basics of formation, roles, space, when to press and when to drop, marking at corners, when to slow and speed up the tempo and making good decisions.
Take Hungary’s second goal, which looked as easy as pie. They won the ball back and there was a huge amount of space behind Austria so the ball was played into it with the right weight and the scorer ran onto it, received the ball and scored. It’s not rocket science, it’s simple common sense and playing what’s in front of you. But watching Raheem Sterling continually struggle to find a white shirt on Saturday and often just running straight into Russian defenders, to use one example, you’d think it was like trying to find the answer to world poverty and the countdown conundrum at the same time.
For the record I think the players we have are good. The 4-3-3 formation seems to be sensible enough to suit their abilities and I wouldn’t change too much for the next game – perhaps just replace one of Lallana or Sterling as we need more support and end product for Kane, who I’d stick with. Personally I’d drop Rooney too, as well as he played, but I know that won’t happen. Otherwise I’d keep things as they are, but perhaps to make more decisive changes form the bench – everyone know Lallana can’t play more then 70 minutes and I’d have got Sturridge on for Kane around the hour mark against Russia.
So come on England, a little defensive organisation, find the spaces on the pitch, move the ball intelligently and with purpose and play with your heads up. You can do it!
Jonny (wouldn’t pick Vardy unless we’re playing a counter-attacking plan against the bigger boys) Dance
The mail that nobody has been waiting for…
I have been an observer rather than a contributor to the mailbox for a few years now, due to the nature of my work I find it difficult to find the time to have my opinions voiced on a public platform. However due to the frequency of certain individuals posts on this forum of discussion it has forced my hand to write in and give a few of my thoughts on England which have come across the mailbox over the last few months as well as a character assassination which I believe to be long overdue. Apologies for the brevity of the mail I have allocated myself 15 minutes to write it.
The England team require a decent defence, something that seems to be discussed quite often on here and fallen a long way from the heights of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand. I can’t fathom why anyone would want John Stones to start especially when the reasoning seems to be not trusting, Smalling or Cahill. For me John Stones is the largest liability in the whole England team, in international football a solid defence is paramount as most games seem to be relatively low scoring the Mourinho school of defending primarily opting for counter attacking football seems the most efficient way to progress in the tournament.
The Ronaldo school of thought that teams such as Iceland who are not trying to score are evoking a “small team mentality” is ridiculous as not being able to score especially when missing a 1-1 volley seems like a sore loser mentality to me. John Stones style of football does not lend itself to international football, the requirement to play from the back seems to make defences weaker rather than stronger and I am sorry to disappoint but the only teams capable of such have far better defenders than England have at the moment. You also need a defender with especially good positioning to mop up when it all goes wrong, most partnerships that worked, for example Pique and Puyol, required a very disciplined defender next to a risk taker. Unfortunately and I happen to be a Chelsea fan, Cahill is not capable of this, so let’s just opt for the best of a bad bunch, Cahill and Smalling get my nod. The failure to not bring on Vardy at 70 minutes also baffles me, he offers an outlet which relieved pressure on the defence by chasing down lost causes and give a very viable option over the top.
The second part of this mail is a little more sinister, I have been reading the mails of what I assume is an Edgar Allen Poe enthusiast by the name of Ed. Though I aim to reserve judgement for peoples character until I meet them in person, a few reasons make me despair every time I see he has once again successfully made it into the mailbox page. I am extremely suspicions of anyone who claims to support a side, however seemed rather content to watch the FA cup final from the comfort of their own home, personally a chance at silverware for a club which in its recent history has not had much chance seems strange. This leads me to insistence for a while to refer to them as “the glaziers” which when I have gone away to Selhurst Park seems rather defunct. Secondly I would suggest you send less time writing in to the F365 mailbox and more time working on something for which you get remunerated, you may be able to stretch the budget to the illustrious BT sports package. Just a few thoughts…
The Silent Majority (CFC)
Does anyone else find BBC match commentator Guy Mowbray really, really annoying, or is it just me?
I wish he wouldn’t always say things like “he wasn’t at his best today”, or “that corner wasn’t one of his best”. Why can’t he just say ‘he didn’t play well’ or ‘it wasn’t a good corner’ instead.
And I wish he wouldn’t try to make jokes because he’s not funny at all. In the Wales v Slovakia he said (in relation to dancing Slovakia fans) “bouncing Slovaks not…bouncing Czechs”.
And I don’t like his nasally voice and the way he pauses…all the damn time.
On the other hand I thought Jonathon Pearce and Mark Lawrenson were absolutely excellent on commentary the other day. They made me laugh and added to my enjoyment of the game. More of them please, BBC.
More winners and losers
If I may add to the winners and losers for Matchday 1:
Adidas – Search it, and you will find no results relating to players talking about unnatural ‘Swerve’ in the flight of the match ball. The ‘Beau Jeu’ has been (to me anyway) conspicuous by its absence as a talking point before and since the tournament started. The ‘boffins’ have finally cracked it and made a ball that does what it should do and nothing more. It also means that if Andy Townsend gets the opportunity to utter his now famous catchphrase ‘If anything he’s hit that too well’, he’s probably right.
Goalkeepers – A consequence of the match ball being so straight and true in its trajectory has been the absence of head-in-your-hands, Rob Green vs the United States-type goalkeeping howlers. Bar some suspect positioning of wall and/or ‘keeper at set-pieces (Bale vs Slovakia and Dier vs Russia springs to mind), no one has been caught out by the ball moving significantly in the air. There have been only two absolutely world-class goals scored from outside the box in open play, which means the ‘keepers have at last been given a fighting chance to come out looking assured between the sticks, rather than a nervous wreck each time the ball is 20-30 yards from goal.
Which leads me onto:
The Viewing Public – 1.83 goals per game so far as opposed to 2.5 at the same stage in 2012. It can be argued that the tournament so far has still been entertaining; a lesson in resolute defending and excellent goalkeeping and knowing when to catch your opponent on the break (both Germany and Hungary’s 2nd goal vs Ukraine and Austria respectively were absolutely wonderful to watch, with the added bonus of sublime finishes to match the movement). But that has meant a miserly goal return for the extra games played so far and is likely a direct consequence of the 24-team format. Would UEFA have been happy with the thin spread of goals prior to the start of the tournament? Hopefully this is simply a result of the naturally cagey feel of any first game in a tournament, coupled with the high number of debutants and long term absentees returning to tournament football who wanted to make a good start and that the next round of games make up for it.
Fifth/Goalline/Bystanding Official – You do know you’re meant to you know, assist, right?
Jogi Löw – Euro 2008 runner-up, World Cup 2014 winning coach, Scratch and Sniff Gold Medallist and current meme king. Not sure how he’ll be remembered, but the last two will run the first two pretty close, I’m sure.
James F, BCFC KRO
The question we all ask…every time
I’ve noticed something funny about those stats that are shown when a player is substituted. You know…the ones that show the distance a player has covered and then the average for the team? These have been shown for years now and I have yet to see an instance where the player has run less than the team average. Anyone know why that is? Do the team stats include the goalie?