‘Embarrassing’ if England don’t win it now…

Date published: Wednesday 30th June 2021 3:02 - Editor F365

Jose Mourinho England

Read 16 Conclusions from the game and keep sending in your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com…


England – We have been ‘Mourinho-ised’
Dear Ed,

Watching the mostly painful game last night I spent half of it looking at the bench and wondering how there was no place for such talent. The game was mostly awful and yet, according to the media, we should all be celebrating.

This morning I read Eoin’s letter on cheering for England from Ireland and this sentence blew me away about England:

‘ … aren’t desperately trying to impress everyone with Hollywood football. ‘

and it struck me how our football has changed. To be clear, Eoin meant this as a compliment, not an insult. We have all become ‘Mourinho-ised’ and accepted functional football that delivers a result but with no joy as a worthy aim in itself. As an Englishman, let me say, I would love a bit of trying to win with Hollywood style. What is the point of playing otherwise?! We are back to Saint Lineker’s original ‘better off watching on teletext’ comment.

I wonder how another manager might have managed to fit some of the talent of Rashford, Grealish, Sancho, Foden in the team? Who knows? Maybe we would win and even entertain the world at the same time…
IronMan (Not feeling as bitter as I sound)

PS Eoin, please take it from me, long suffering England fans have no sense of entitlement – only moronic tabloids. God forbid that we all judge each other by our press…!

PPS To Ireland, what is the difference between an Irishman hating English sporting teams due to its history and a moronic tabloid hating German teams for the same reason?! Have to forgive and forget my friends…


Southgate is doing a France 98
I wrote in a couple of times hyper critical of Southgate and his lack of balls against weaker teams. I was also gutted when I saw 7 defensive players in the line up yesterday but fair play – it got the job done. It also made me realise and accept that Southgate is going for the France in 98 model or Greece in 2004 vintage, where the teams that won it did so by being Mourinho style solid with a high work rate. It may not be pretty or take advantage of attacking potential but it sure is effective. Also it’s great that the nation has something to work itself into a positive frenzy over as we head to Saturday.

Well done
Duck (readjusted expectations)


Gareth Southgate
After the match last night I feel like I should write in in about Gareth Southgate. Cards on the table, I felt he basically got the job by default, has practically no track record of success as a manager and despite doing OK at the World Cup (rode a dream draw but lost to every decent team) we should be able to do a lot better for the national team. To clarify this, as a statesman/politician he’s been impeccable and I’m pretty sure he’s a lovely man. But that doesn’t count for a lot, I want someone who gets the best from the players on the pitch.

Last night he did that and I tip my hat to him. It wasn’t that pretty to watch but right now results really are all that matters and we beat Germany while just about being the better side. For all Germany aren’t the team they were I’m struggling to see many bad players in their side. It’s clear we achieved this by prioritising defence, 7 defensive players did leave the front 3 fairly isolated and we struggled to link the play to them at the best of times. This is now my main concern and where Southgate will either prove me right (to some degree) or throw every negative comment back in our faces. In order to reach the final we now face Ukraine and Denmark or the Czech Republic. They will offer a very different challenge to Germany and we now need to adapt. My concern is that we’ve not been behind and faced a team happy to pull everybody back in order to defend a lead. In that situation will we have the creativity and invention to break them down? The pace of Sterling and Saka doesn’t help much if there’s no space in behind.

But for now Southgate has taken a decisive step forward and obviously I hope he continues. The style of play he’s put in does lend itself to tougher opponents, hence the fairly comfortable wins over Croatia and Germany. But we didn’t look great against Scotland and Czech Republic and those are the sort of matches we now face. I’ll feel somewhat vindicated in my original opinion if we struggle to break them down despite a superb array of attacking talent.
Jim, Norwich


Have to say, Southgate was spot on there. When I saw the line up my first thought was that Rice was going to get taught a traumatic lesson by Kroos but the energy he and Phillips put in was remarkable and ensured Germany never looked in control. Rice was better, he put himself about a bit. Would love to see him with a bit more composure going forward or even looked to receive the ball on the turn – I think it would really open up the opposition. Phillips is outstanding, almost a Kante like influence on the pitch as he seemed to be everywhere.

Someone mailed in earlier about thinking we needed to take Shaw off, put Saka at left wing back, Rice for Hendo etc. I was thinking the same, it seemed obvious. But Southgate made the right call at the right time, aggressive. If we weren’t England I would almost have said it was a plan from the start.

I said before that these boys have something different about them, and when you look at the bench there are so many options. What’s more, they could all start or come on as sub and affect the game. If teams sit deep start Grealish or Mount, bring Saka on to stretch the game, Rashford, Foden – Its insane really. And the passion, look at Raheem when Muller was through, that lad is basically all of us on the pitch, he was in that moment with all of us. He’s my sons favourite player and should be the Icon of English football.

Lots to do, one game at a time yaddayaddayadda but I am falling back in love with football – International tournament football is the absolute peak of the game.

Still can’t get on board with this ‘easy route to the final, we’re gonna win it’ but whatever happens, they’ve done themselves proud.

Oh and Pickford! Wtf? Seems all he needed was a 90s hairstyle!
Tom, Andover (still love the 90s)


Credit where it’s due…
England set up with 5 defenders, and their famed double pivot of defensive midfielders to explicitly nullify the marauding Germans.

The first half was exactly as expected – 7 defenders nullifying the German attack whilst providing no progressive play (or any sort of ball) to the isolated forwards. Kane was non-existent, Saka got away from his markers a couple of times, and Sterling was swamped with 3 odd pursuers every time he got the ball. No real chance of Germany scoring, a couple of half-chances for England, and a Kane miss. 0-0; nice one, Gareth.

The second half continued the theme, neither side really laying a glove on the other, England looking increasingly comfortable with Stones and Maguire dominating, as thoughts increasingly turned to penalties (and maybe some sort of Rashford/Kane Southgate swap). Then Southgate acted!!

On came Grealish, and the game changed. Sterling moved to the right to run down his blind alleys pursued by Germans, and suddenly Shaw became a wing-back, England had overlaps, Grealish passed to Kane (he probably felt sorry for him), and England actually attacked…it was shocking…and then we scored. And then after trying to gift Muller an equalizer…we scored again!!

So, to Gareth, my apologies, you’re obviously the second coming of Jose. But I don’t really care – we won, against the Germans. And as Napoleon once said, “I’d rather have lucky generals than good ones”.

Go England!!
Matthew (ITFC)


Lukaku or Sterling for the Golden Boot
Southgate was slammed from all corners for his lineup against Germany and I remember saying at the time that the match would be boring as hell to watch, but this ploy might work. Since 2004, the Euros winners have largely been dominated by teams who defended staunchly rather than had a potent attack. Portugal in 2016, before that, the Spanish Tika Tika team notorious for putting you to sleep with a 100 passes, and all the way to 2004 we see Greece winning the tournament with some of the most boring football witnessed by mankind.

The surprising part was that the attacking threat England nevertheless displayed and this is where Southgate deserves the utmost credit for.

Predictions for the rest of the tournament: From hereon, England should easily make it to the final given the simple draw they have where in all likelihood they will face Belgium. Lukaku or Sterling will win the Golden Boot race.


No excuses now
Only Ukraine and Denmark/Czech Republic to beat to reach the final. A final that, like the semi-final, is in your home ground.

Let me make this simple. There are absolutely no excuses left for England now. If you don’t win this one – in your home ground! – you are an embarrassment.
Dave, LFC, Galway


I woke this morning with a HUGE hangover.
I called my Dad.
I fucking love football………..and my dad.
I’m back in ‘96 but we can do better…………
Glen Reading F.C. Mevagissey, Cornwall.


Congrats from Germany
Dear all,

First of all congratulations for a great victory. Some fine margins, but there’s no doubt: the team with the better game plan won deservedly.

Last week I wrote about England’s difficult and short preparation for this tournament (btw, thanks for the kind responses to my post) and so I cannot believe how Southgate managed to turn a mediocre defence into a brick wall, and all that while trying to re-integrate Maguire into the team.

England have never been really bad in the past tournaments (bar Iceland), but their main problem was that their opponents often needed just one or maybe two chances to score against them. Often, a positive momentum coming from a good passage of play was thereby destroyed. No Capello, Hodgson or Southgate pre-2021 could change that.

But what a tournaround. Apart from the Sterling black-out (who was otherwise excellent), Germany had no chance to equalize. No onslaught, nothing. Yes, we have not set the world alight recently under Löw but I have never seen a German team so neutralized as in the games against top-favorites France and now England, at least not in important games. Well done.

A comment in the mailbox this morning reminded me of the issue with Sancho: As he is playing in the Bundesliga, I see him regularly and he is one of my favorite players. The reason why he was hardly involved up to now is his defensive work rate. Saka has now started two games where probably lots of people expected Sancho instead. But Saka having played full back and wing-back is defensive more solid while still offering some unpredictability and creativity upfront (although Sancho is surely better in that respect). That is also why Sterling and Rashford are so high in Southgate’s pecking order. It’s their work off the ball. But I have no doubt that if England were in need of a goal Southgate would up the risk and bring him on. He’s still Englands secret weapon and his no-show a nice “problem” to have.

And now please more of England 2021: composed, clever and almost cruel.

Bring it home,


Last year I became a dual British-German citizen, so yesterday was a bit of a weird experience for me as I didn’t really care who won – England is the country of my birth and I have always supported them in tournaments but I have chosen to become German as well, so I have an emotional tie there to, so I’m probably one of the few people with a foot in both camps.

Anyway, I thought I would give you the view from here based on yesterday and the view is a pretty favourable one for England.  Firstly, it should be pointed out that whilst the general view of England-Germany games here is not as all-encompassing as they are back in England, it is always a game that people look forward to but not with as much fervor as a game against the French, Italians and above all the Dutch – this is probably helped by the fact that the German team normally wins but still it’s a big game but not the big game.

On to yesterday and the view in the press I’ve read and speaking to people this morning is one of disappointment but not surprise as the team has lost it’s way over the last 3 years of the Löw era and everyone is ready to draw a line under what has been a pretty successful 15 years and see what Hansi Flick can do with what is still a bunch of talented players.

The overriding view though has been that England deserved it, got it tactically spot on and many will now be actively supporting them and hoping they go all the way – as the woman in my local bakers said this morning   – “They are a team it is hard not to like with a very impressive man as manager, so I hope they win it”. So the view, at least in this corner of Germany is that they hope that football is coming home but that if it does, it’s hopefully just a brief visit to get it’s laundry done.

Paul, Frankfurt

Harry Kane England

Doesn’t know any worse…
Here’s a thing. My son had his 8th birthday yesterday.

Nintendo Switch, Liverpool away kit (Virgil), Pokemon cards…
… and England beating Germany in a major competition.

For him and his generation all they know is victory in this tie.

Voice of Season (curiously flat game emotionally, definite relief rather than elation – would have been devastated if we lost though)#


Safety first
Very much enjoying the people getting upset over the “unwashed masses” comments.

Anyone with half a brain can see that Southgate’s system doesn’t really lend itself to creating chance after chance for our strikers. Kane spends most of the game barely touching the ball, as does Rashford when he is substituted on.

The manager has gone for a safety first approach. That’s the way it is, and I’m not sure who else we can play in Kane’s stead that will suddenly make us start dominating games 9-0.

That’s why it’s important to have a striker that makes the few moments we have count. The roles Kane played in our two goals today, plus the goal against Czech Republic, showed why he is in the team.

So people can shed tears over being referred to (in an obviously tongue-in-cheek manner) “unwashed masses”, but to be honest, listening to the absolutely shit takes on Kane, Sterling and Southgate, you’d be forgiven for using stronger language.


Cheer up!
In response to Robin, California

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, cheer up you miserable sod. Do you think Greece and Portugal gave a sh*t when they bored the opposition into Euro glory?

Do you think the all conquering Spain side cared when their tika-taka approach won them the World Cup and Euros through induced narcolepsy?

Don’t think so. If you don’t have anything nice to say…..

Ash, Cornwall


In response to Robin, California and his wistful memories of Euro 96 and the exciting and thrilling football he seems to recall England playing. I think he may want to go back and watch those games again because nostalgia has clearly applied a very rosy tint to those glasses he’s wearing. In the group stages England were frankly terrible in the first game against the Swiss and even worse for the first 45 mins against Scotland, which to this day is one of the worst 45 minutes of football ever played. The second half of that game improved but England only won because of a terrible Gary McAllister penalty and a moment of genius from Gazza, outside of that they were pretty ordinary and Venables tactical selections in that game were questionable at best.

Yes, the 3rd group game was glorious and one of the all time great England tournament performances, something we may yet still see from this England team, but the first KO game against Spain was turgid up to the penalties and England were no more ‘exciting’ in that game than yesterdays team were, the thrill of that came only at the very end, something I’m personally glad we didn’t have to go through yesterday. Obviously the Germany SF was a classic but when we boil it down our memories of that tournament are fixed around two particular games and one crazy 2 minute period in one other game, outside of that I dare Robin to to recall one other thing that happened. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Euro 96 and remember the waves of glory and giddiness that went through all of us as England progressed through it but let’s not pretend they played that tournament like Keegan’s Newcastle on acid all of a sudden.
Rob, 49, Leicester


A few points in response to the musings from this morning’s mailbox:

1: To those trying to keep up the pretence that England-Germany is anything other than a one-sided “rivalry”; I beg you to stop reading the jingoistic BS that comes from those newspapers and websites you will find being shredded into kitty tray lining by Mediawatch. They want you to believe that the ‘cretinous baggage’ makes the game mean more. It doesn’t. Never has. And this comes from someone that read with fervour The Sun and The Mirror for over 20 years, before realising that they are nothing more than irritating, divisive mouthpieces. If you wanted it to be, last night’s game could have been of no more significance than for the reward of getting to the quarter-final of the Euros. You make it what you want to be. If even now, you still thought it was about ‘2 World Wars and 1 World Cup’ or ’10 German bombers’, over 80 years after the outbreak of a war you personally played no part in, you really have no right to ask anyone to stop taking the knee and ‘bringing politics into sport’ when that’s exactly what you’re doing. And before anyone says ‘it’s just a bit of fun’, no it’s not. Maybe in 1975 it was. Now, its just tiresome, as well as loathsome.

2. We’ve always complained (myself absolutely included) about how other nations have been able to produce a footballing identity on the world stage that have marked them out as potential champions. Tiki Taka, Die Manschaft, Totaal Voetbal and so on. This iteration of England also has one. It is stifling, it is exacting, it is boring as f*ck. I have no idea what to call it (maybe the Mailbox can provide some suggestions), but can it win us the Euros? Potentially. I’ve seen worse teams do so with even less resources than us, so why not?

This is England, people. Get used to it.

3. Besides a surprising 0-1 loss to the Swiss in their opening game, Spain never won a game by more than 1 clear goal on their way to winning the World Cup in 2010. Every knockout game finished 1-0. This England side have bettered that by not conceding so far and winning a game by 2 clear goals. I also remember a lot of people bemoaning the lack of excitement and joy that was found in watching Spain (and at club level, Barcelona) as they passed to death the opposition, right in the midst of their Tiki Taka glory years.

I’d happily…no, I absolutely relish an England Euro 2020 victory that mirrors Spain’s journey in 2010, certainly if it means we get the chance to make actual history, and not just more memories to add to the pile marked ‘Glorious Failures’.

Let’s banish the past now, not wait until the end of the tournament and revel in the potential for new moments to cherish. Hopefully this time with a trophy held high, instead of fake boobs or a blow-up Unicorn as the abiding inanimate object.


Imagine this mailbox if Kane had missed that Müller sitter.
Matt Carr, Spurs, Wilmington, NC


Didn’t everyone also expect an ‘easier’ game against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi final due to fatigue?

As they now are with Ukraine…
Dan (parentheses)


Also not ashamed of the team
Mike WHU you shouldn’t be ashamed of the team but SOME of the fans do leave a lot to be desired. Boing opposing countries anthems is disrespectful, singing jolly ditties about death and destruction a bit more so, but to cap it all boing your own players for demonstrating their support for racial equality.

I am sure that If you have been to games you may of heard antisemitic songs aimed at Spurs. There will be others who have heard songs about air crashes, fan deaths and poverty. Considering you have been following football since the 80s who can forget those welcoming monkey chants to any black player.  None of these things should make you feel ashamed of the team but some of those who follow it leave a lot to be critical of.

The problem and the huge advantage at the same time is that football does attract such diversity and may mean you encounter conundrums outside your normal perception.

Also in answer to AC in Milan from my view it’s is the 50+1 that holds the Bundeslegia back and to think this has been advocated by some fans since the ESL debacle.
Gary in Germany


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