England bound for Euro 2024 glory thanks to druids and despite doom-mongers

Editor F365
The Sun and the Mirror.
The Sun and the Mirror.

This is why the rest of the world is confused by England.

This is why the rest of the world thinks we are f***ing idiots.

Two weeks away from a general election in which the Tories are predicted to suffer their worst loss in over 100 years, and these are the front pages (the actual front pages) of the populist newspapers.

The right-wing dog-whistlers at the Daily Mail and the Daily Express are of course playing a pathetic game of distraction with scaremongering about those dastardly eco warriors – who are of course the biggest threat to modern Britain – but this is the biggest news of the day according to The Sun:

‘DRUID King Arthur Pendragon will cast a summer solstice spell to power England to victory over Denmark at Euro 2024 tonight.’

It’s a shame for Gareth Southgate that he has imposed a media ban on himself because he is truly missing out on this extraordinary ‘exclusive’. What a coup.

And he could have saved himself a whole lot of time on the training pitch as King Arthur is ‘summoning the spirit of the ancients’. Job done. Bosh.

Almost as bad are the Mirror, who are summoning the spirits of the ancient ways of life as they claim – on the actual front page of a national newspaper – that ‘MILLIONS of fans are knocking off early today to back England’ as they ‘cram into pubs, bars and fan zones’.

Or, as it’s 2024, millions of people will just turn off their laptops at the usual time and walk into the other room to switch on the TV. Or maybe they will just watch on the world wide web?!

 

Doom with a view
The back page of the Daily Mail brings us news from the Gareth Southgate press conference with a headline of ‘BLOCK IT OUT’ as ‘Southgate urges stars to ignore doom-mongers’.

Sami Mokbel then writes – apparently without a hint of irony – that ‘Southgate’s side have faced criticism from ex-players and pundits despite winning their first game of Euro 2024 versus Serbia last weekend.’

Damn those doom-mongers among ex-players and pundits. There has definitely been none of that from journalists, has there? And definitely not from the Mail, apart from:

‘England must rearrange the furniture in their starting XI after nervy win over Serbia, writes IAN LADYMAN… Trent Alexander-Arnold needs to be stood down from central midfield role’

‘Yes, Harry Kane is dropping too deep. But who can blame him when he’s so rarely given the ball? Asks IAN LADYMAN’

‘Jude Bellingham follows three generational England legends in having the country’s hopes rest on him. He plays like he’s unbeatable but others must step up, writes OLIVER HOLT’

‘England vs Denmark is Trent Alexander-Arnold’s final audition, writes OLIVER HOLT. But Gareth Southgate knows playing safe at this Euros is not going to be enough’

It looks suspiciously like IAN LADYMAN and OLIVER HOLT might be among the doom-mongers.

That latest piece from Ladyman (sorry, LADYMAN) is an odd one because Kane quite clearly was not dropping deep in the first half v Serbia (Jamie Carragher said he was playing more like Erling Haaland than Harry Kane) and even in the second half, his average position was in advance of every other England player.

There was something off about England’s performance against Serbia, for sure, and Kane’s match statistics point to that.

His most regular supply – six passes – was from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who kicked the ball long more often than any England goalkeeper for quite some time. Second on the list was Jude Bellingham with five passes and that probably reflected how close the two men were standing to each other on occasion.

But Kane should have received the ball more from Bellingham than any other outfield player; he was the No. 10 after all, despite the handy little info box that tells us that ‘PHIL FODEN played the full 90 minutes in behind Kane’. Nope. He really didn’t.

But as Ladyman writes:

At times it is worth reminding ourselves that they won the game. In England we do seem particularly adept at hand-wringing and that does not just come from the media.

You literally wrote yesterday that at least one player ‘needed to be stood down’ after that win, Ian. Maybe take a little look in the mirror.

His Mail colleague Holt is also raging against the hand-wringers:

It gave Southgate the latitude to smile wryly at some of the hand-wringing that has gone on since and remind England’s players that even triumphs will be treated as disasters by the kind of observers who say he is a failure because England have not won the last three major tournaments in a row.

The ‘kind of observers’ who would write in literally the same article that ‘as far as the experiment of playing Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield is concerned, this is the final audition’. Those kind of observers?

 

Last-chance saloon?
This is extraordinary from the Daily Telegraph and Matt Law, fresh from bringing us the news that Gareth Southgate is ‘refusing’ to play Ollie Watkins:

Gareth Southgate is ready to throw his support behind Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden and give them another chance to silence their doubters.

‘Another chance’? He is going to give the Premier League Player of the Year ‘another chance’ after a 1-0 win in the first game of a major tournament? Do you think France might give Kylian Mbappe ‘another chance’ if he is fit to play too?

Questions have been raised over whether or not Alexander-Arnold and Foden should start for England, but Southgate wants another look at the pair.

He wants ‘another look’? What utter nonsense. This – barring Luke Shaw at left-back – is his first-choice XI in the absence of Harry Maguire. He hasn’t just stumbled into playing this team; he’s not just thrown some names in the air.

Behave. He’s not playing Ollie Watkins or Cole Palmer.