England could qualify from their group without conceding a goal so should we all be depressed? Send your mails to firstname.lastname@example.org
Basically, just calm the f*** down
The difference in expectations between the current Euros performance and the last World Cup is palpable.
Last time no one was expecting anything much at all – to reach the semis was a major achievement. Albeit with as easy a run as you could ask for.
Is this England team worse than 2018? Not in my opinion. But the expectations are sky high in comparison and that’s lending a very different perspective to the way people are looking at them.
In Mexico ‘86 Lineker was taking dog’s abuse and there was major pressure for him to be dropped. A hat-trick against Poland, a golden boot, a quarter final won by the Hand of God and the narrative changed for the rest of his career.
In Italia ‘90 England were awful in the groups. Robson was getting the mother of all kickings from the tabloids. Got to the semis, created a group of heroes, the nation fell in love with football again and eventually Robson became Sir Bobby and everyone’s favourite uncle.
Shearer couldn’t score for toffee before Euro 96, we were awful against Switzerland and we had luck / Gascoigne genius to get past Scotland. A month later he had a Golden Boot, we’d destroyed the mighty Netherlands and we were a Gazza toe away from the final.
In short, things change in tournaments – fast.
Put the Czechs to the sword with Kane getting a hatful and everyone will be plotting our route to the final all over again.
You’re only as good as your last performance and result and, to be sure, it wasn’t too clever against the Scots. But barring a major disaster , we’re still going through and then it’s a clean slate for the knockout stages.
At this stage, that’s all we need. And who knows how differently we’ll look at this team in a month’s time?
…In a world where we look at our pints as half full…
Two games played (inc. the tougher side in the group and a derby game), four points taken, qualification from the group.
No goal conceded and, tempting fate here, but can’t see the Czechs scoring against England. Off the top of my head, England would be the only team other than Italy not to have conceded.
Bar Italy, all the other major teams have had slip-ups, France v Hungary, Spain suffering the creative problems our fans have berated,
Germany were terrible v. France, Portugal were thumped by Germany, Belgium have been ok at best, Netherlands nearly throwing the Ukraine game away. There are some good teams and has been some good football. Some will improve too. But nobody is terrifying (yet, at least)
It is rare for teams that come out the blocks blowing teams away to go on and win the comp. It can often be those that scrape results, look uninspiring.
The past year, fans have been most worried about England’s defence as its weakness. So far, we look tidy there. Perhaps this is our slow start? So what then if we get through the group with seven points and no goals conceded, albeit not quite firing? Is that not a positive? Imagine they do become more fluid, our attackers start playing into some form.
Poor performances are frustrating. But they happen (have happened) to all teams. Please can we just wait until we lose games/get knocked out before we start all the negativity and dredge up all the golden generation stuff…
CDog (probably going to lose to Czech now and limp out of the next round)
Actually, these boys are good
Just read JN’s article about English players being made to look better by their foreign peers and I have to say I totally disagree, particularly this bunch of lads. I have never seen a more technically gifted collection of England players. Every one of them looks like he wants the ball and trusts himself to do something. I grew up on the blood soaked England of the 80’s and 90’s ‘proper men‘ playing hard football, happy to throw themselves at the opposition but the minute they got the ball, they would invariably sh*t the bed. We had a couple of classy players but never fully trusted them so, as a team, we never had any quality on the ball. Success then was all about big moments from individual efforts. Then we had the naughties and our self styled ‘golden generation’. Again, some great players but all of them looked scared to receive the ball. If they did, shift it from your feet and see if you can’t twat it. Again, sporadic big moments by individuals.
Now we have Foden, Sterling, Grealish, Kane, Mount, Sancho – I’d chuck Bellingham in there too, pretty much the whole team can play the ball. I’ve never rated Rice and have no idea what the fuss that surrounds him is, he literally just runs along the half way line or stands still whilst the opposition passes it around him in a nice triangle. He stands too close to the defence and offers nothing to assist the front four, no tempo, decent passing accuracy but no out balls, no through balls, two tackles in 180 minutes (one of which might have been when he tackled himself in the Scotland area). Pretty pointless really.
I digress. My point is, for once, we actually have technical players, Southgate has brought them together well, I think he has the right squad with a great collective attitude but he is missing the boat when it comes to tactics. Steve Clarke gave us a master class in how to set a team up on Friday – as soon as I heard the formation I knew they were going to play well. They filled the pitch and there was just no space for our players to breathe. Southgate should have seen that and changed it up, tweaking formations to pull them out of position, even inviting them on a bit so we could hit them on the break. but nothing. Nada. So we drew. Which is fine. But it should have been better. Look at the amount of times Italy broke the lines against Wales, okay they only scored one but they created so many chances. Think England fans would be happy with that to be honest.
Lastly, Southgate has a bit of a tendency to fail at game management, going back a while but the semi against Croatia was ours for the taking, Sterling had their left back on toast then we took him off and the momentum changed.
(Youngest team ever fielded by England in a tournament btw, give them a chance!)
…I’m generally in favour of Southgate as England manager, however I’ve been thinking about his approach to the group stage and I think he’s getting it wrong.
Clearly, England were deliberately holding back against Scotland. It was a case of, yes, a win is a win, but if we can sit there and get a draw, that’s what we’re after. I expect a similarly cagey performance tomorrow against the Czechs, all in the name of finishing 2nd in the group and getting a “better” draw.
There’s a couple of issues with this, to do with our own mentality and also how we’re viewed by prospective opponents. If you believe you’re good enough to beat anyone, you don’t go mucking about trying to finish second to obtain a marginally weaker opponent in the last 16. You go out and beat Scotland. You go out and beat the Czech Republic. You build momentum and you create fear in your opponents. Everyone’s sh*t scared of Italy right now. Do you think they’re worried about who they play in round 2? Is anyone worried about playing England, limping into the second round because they’re worried about playing someone good? If anything, weaker teams will have been encouraged by the performance of the Scots, showing an example of how to neutralise England’s chronic lack of ambition. Better teams will have nothing to fear against an England team playing like that.
If Southgate believes in his players, there shouldn’t be any of this faffing about trying to play percentages and work the system. And if he doesn’t believe in them, then it’s probably better to get someone who does.
Mike Hall, AFC (watch us win 4-0 tomorrow now)
Hoping for the draw
Sorry if this has already been highlighted elsewhere, but England beating Czech Republic on Tuesday would likely spell the end for them. This is of course because the winners of Group D will play the 2nd placed team in Group F, which will be one of France, Germany or Portugal, whereas finishing 2nd would mean playing the runners-up of Group E, i.e. one of Sweden, Slovakia, Spain or Poland. Heck, even finishing 3rd would likely result in a kinder fixture – time to play the fringe players methinks.
Perhaps drawing with Scotland wasn’t such a bad result for us after all…
Kane = Hakan Sukur
I’ve seen a few suggestions thrown around for why Harry Kane is struggling in this tournament but none of them have actually got it right. The real reason? He is suffering from the Hakan Sukur disease.
So what’s that then? Well it stems from the World Cup in 2002. It was generally thought that if Turkey were to do anything good in that World Cup, their talisman would have to be on top form. What happened was Turkey finished 3rd and Hakan Sukur was dreadful.
So from that the Hakan Sukur disease was born which is when a team does really well at a tournament but their stand out best player is anything from average to crap. Examples include Ukraine and Shevchenko is World Cup 06 and Poland and Lewandowski in Euro 2016.
So fear not, if Harry Kane does indeed have the Hakan Sukur disease it does mean England will do well in this tournament.
Time for a Eurovision format?
My wife, who has been gracious in not complaining about all the (often dull) football on the TV of late, put forward her suggestion for how to make to group stage matches more interesting and competitive. When I explained that even a third-placed team could still qualify, she was outraged and put forward a, in my opinion, much better alternative: that only group winner be guaranteed a place in the knock out rounds, and all other teams be entered into a Eurovision style vote-off. They’d all by that stage have had three matches in which to convince the viewing public to back them on the basis of their endeavor and entertainment value. Like Eurovision, the public would be barred from voting for their own nation, and, as she put it, “if Eurovision can organise the votes to be tallied in mere hours, then why couldn’t UEFA?” The top two teams voted by the public could join the group winners as seeded, and next best 8 could all go into a pot to be drawn against the seeded teams at random, creating greater jeopardy and interest.
I think this idea, while obviously nearly impossible to make work for logistical reasons, would be great for entertainment value. If the public have an input into who progresses, then it would be in teams interest to entertain. We might see less teams settling for a dull draw, not giving 100%, or possibly a reduction in Spain’s bore-the-opposition-into-a-coma nonsense, and more matches where teams show up to put on a show. And lets be honest, while there are always a couple of games where things get interesting, the group stages are the least entertaining part of the tournament, especially now when so few teams are actually eliminated. I’d love to hear other alternative ideas on how to spice up UEFA’s new, bloated, 24 team format.
Time for a different format altogether?
Sick of the jingoistic nature of football at the Euros, and what with the world being sucked back into nationalism, I’ve lost my international football boner. Which gave me an idea.
What if there was an alternate, less jingoistic Euros?
The principle? The top 24 European leagues (as ranked by UEFA) vs each other in a Euros tournament. The league winning coach in each country is given free pick from the players within the teams of the 24 countries. Picking players would be as follows:
– Squad of 26 players
– One player from each league must be selected
– Maximum of 3 players from own league, including only one pick from his (one day her, maybe) club
– The championship winning manager from the lowest ranked country gets first pick, second lowest next, etc, until the highest ranked manager takes his pick
– The draft rotates through each position, i.e. each manager selects their goalkeepers first, then left back, then right back, and so on, thus ensuring that Guardiola can’t pick the cream, while giving the lowest ranked manager the chance to show what he could do with a big “budget”.
The format of the competition would follow that of the Euros, except without the bullshit 3rd place backdoor.
It would, for me at least, certainly be an interesting tournament, especially as it would have absolutely nothing to do with where players had the good fortune to be born.
Zaren, Spurs, Berlin
The Scottish Way
Turning in a Man of the Match performance, then testing positive for Covid is as Scottish as a deep fried Mars bar washed down with Irn Bru.
Mike, LFC, London