A Man Utd apology for ‘immense’ England hero

Date published: Thursday 8th July 2021 2:26 - Editor F365

We’ve got loads of England mails still to get through, but keep them coming home. Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com.


Sorry, Harry. Love Man United.
Good morning everyone.

Well, that was a good game wasn’t it?  You would never have thought so by some of the comments on the 16 conclusions and game rating articles.

First up, the ref was awful.  I have been generally impressed with the refs so far but last night, the guy was terrible.  Maguire booked for heading the ball, the foul given against Shaw, if I went through all of them, not just against England, this would go on forever.

Anyway, just my take on it.
Pickford, I like the bloke, he seems to have grown up a lot in the last 2/3 years.  Still a little dodgy at times but look at Donnarumma, hardly a great all round keeper is he?  How anyone can say he should have saved that freekick is just bonkers.  Pickfords shot stopping, command of the area and organising is generally excellent.  So give the lad a break.

Comments moaning about Sterling diving for the Penalty.  Ok, name another player, anywhere in the world who would not have gone down in such a situation?  Sterling has been magnificent, stupidly magnificent.  He’s not leaving City is he?  Come on? If Pep is watching then he only needs to look at Southgate to see how to get the best out of him.  It is so simple, play a Striker, you know and actual striker up there.

No matter how good Sterling plays, he will always get some kind of negativity.  He was brilliant but he bought a house, he was brilliant but he bought a car.  I don’t think it is racism all the time, all the great players get it, Ronaldo, Rooney, Beckham all have had their fair share of it.  It’s plain and simple Jealousy that their lives are incredible and the haters lives are all about the pub and signing on.

Harry Maguire is not Harry Maguire.  That is an imposter, there is no way that guy can look so average, so helpless playing for Man Utd and then go and play that good for England.  It’s not right.  Or maybe that is the real Maguire and he can show us all how good he is when he hasn’t got to carry 90% of the teams defensive duties.  It’s back to reality soon Harry.  You’ll be lining up with De Gea behind you, Lindelof as your CD partner, AWB to your right somewhere, he is there somewhere, oh no he’s not, Fred and Pogba in front of him constantly giving it away.  Sorry Harry, we really are sorry mate.

The other Harry.  Is it just me or does he look really, really slow?  Like he is running through sand?  Sometimes he doesn’t seem to move when he runs.  I don’t think he has been that good, granted there is nobody better for us than him in that position, I was just expecting a bit more, maybe that’s harsh.  Not that it matters as we are in the Final and you don’t get there by not having a decent striker.

Can we all, stop with this “Woke” nonsense please, just stop.

Arguably the 2 best sides are left in.  Italy will be no push over, the aging Italian defense is still a quality partnership and they are quick on the break.  It should be a great game.
I’m not sure whose article it was where they said about the country needs a lift after the 18 months of Covid, but that also applies to like…. Every country.  I thought it sounded a bit entitled and acting like nobody else was effected, because yeah, Italy wasn’t effected by any of it.

Let’s just enjoy it, because by the looks of it, this England squad certainly are.

READ MORE: 16 Conclusions: England 2-1 Denmark

Enjoying football…
What I’m enjoying most about this tournament is no longer despising so much of what is going on.

I don’t miss the street violence and legions of ‘ultras’ getting stabby and throwing cheap garden chairs about

I don’t miss secretly (and then less secretly) disliking many of the players.  The John Terry types who were a disgrace in terms of their behaviour.

I don’t miss the celebrity encourage of wives and shopping trips.  This not only had no place in football but reinforced some bullshit story that ‘men do football while women spank the credit card’

I don’t miss the media furore. I know it’s still there but between quitting social media and Netflix giving me entertainment away from mainstream TV I’ve not had to smell the disingenuous political football reporting from The Guardian or The Daily Mail. Nor the bitter spew from Custis and co.

What I now see is a group of quiet professionals going about their business with pride, happy fans grateful to be back in the stadium, women on the screen commentating and not just a Louis Vuitton-draped afterthought, and fans loving every minute with very little outdated xenophobic rubbish and yet ample banter, with everyone just enjoying that in many ways it’s already come home and can only come home further.

#comeonEngland #itscominghome
Alexander Tovey



Where are the ‘Southgate is sh*t’ muppets now?
The ‘Southgate is sh*t’ and ‘why is Sterling starting?’ muppets have definitely gone quiet on the social the past few weeks. Morons. Brilliant tournament manager and potential player of the tournament.

Had Kasper not had a worldie we would have beaten them more comfortably yesterday. Their goal was a proper thunderbastard, which Pickford had no chance with despite what pundits say when being gifted the opportunity to watch in slo-mo.

Absolutely love that Gareth took Grealish off. He is a strong, willed and intelligent manager whose team buys in to his strategy. Jack will have understood why.

Great result and a throughly deserved trip to the final to come.
Rob, Dorset


The kids don’t know
In 2018 I was 43 years old and I’d only ever seen us in two semi-finals and never get through to a final. My lad’s 14, only started getting interested in football when he was 10, and he’s already seen us in three semis and win one of them. He honestly doesn’t know watching England in tournaments is usually soul-crushingly awful.

But for those of us who do , today is damn near impossible to believe considering how bad we were in 2016. Beaten by Iceland, a complete laughing stock, you’d have been laughed out of the country for suggesting we’d be where we are now.

Southgate is pretty lucky *and* bloody good. He’s definitely had easier runs than some but every single decision he’s made this tournament has come off. All of them. That’s damn good quality management whatever people might think. And I suspect the naysayers won’t be too chatty today. If he is lucky as well, he’ll be due some having to listen about that blessed penalty for 25 years.

Sterling has been extraordinary all tournament as was again last night. Kane’s penalty was bobbins but he held his nerve to put away the rebound and his nerves must have been screaming. That goal going in was the best moment I’ve had watching England in all this long. Can you imagine *scoring* it?

Maguire was fantastic again, as was Saka. Pickford actually reverted to his Everton self for some godforsaken reason and can feel more relieved than most this morning. He almost went peak Karius throwing the ball to them, tried the same trick with his feet not long after and absolutely should have done better with the goal. Hopefully he’s got that rubbish out of his system before Sunday, but he’s the biggest worry I have. No player lets the emotion of a game get to them more.

Denmark were unlucky with the penalty but they weren’t the best team on the night. England deserved the goal and it would have looked inevitable had I been a neutral watching without generational pessimism.

Schmeichel was *immense* though and he needed to be. He’s never looked and played more like his Dad. Denmark had a fantastic , unbelievable run after their horrific start and all the emotions that went with it. They should be incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved since then.

For us, though, it’s just one step more. 90 minutes until football immortality. It’s a bloody big step to be sure, this is some Italian team. But they won’t be exactly over confident facing us at Wembley either.

If tonight was nerve-wracking, the final will be a something else again. But it is going to be *incredible*.
James, Liverpool 

READ MORE: ITV need to go off-script and make one final decision

Capturing the imagination of a nation
Enjoyed the bitter mailbox more than I expected! I think all those fans have missed the point though; if VAR didn’t exist the ref would still have given it. For what it’s worth I think it was less of a penalty than the Kane one before but in both cases if the ref gave it then VAR wouldn’t see it as clear and obviously an error. But also if the ref didn’t give it then VAR still wouldn’t see it as clear and obviously an error to give the penalty. That’s why the Kane one wasn’t overturned and neither was the Sterling one. Your rage is with VAR but maybe it’s really just with all footballers that ever go down lightly? If that’s the case then that’s all footballers ever and you should find a new sport.

I think this England team has done well to capture the imagination of a lot of the nation. If they were going to be same old England then going down 1-0 would’ve spelt the end for their hopes. They battled back so well and then when Kane missed the penalty it looked like same old England again but he kept his wits and found the net with the rebound. Also I feel like hanging out on a unicorn lilo with Saka would be a lot of fun.

It must also be said that Denmark were excellent. They don’t have a lot of household names but as a team I thought they were brilliantly set up and battled well. On paper I think we were all guilty of giving them less respect than they showed they deserved on the night. They could’ve won and would’ve deserved to be in the final just as much as England for their overall tournament.

Is it coming home? F**k me you know it might be.
Minty, LFC


England are likeable
What a fantastic game! Incredible attacking play from both teams, a desire to pass through a congested midfield and no end of a risk for appetite.

As an Irishman, it’s embarrassing to see my compatriots snarling so much about the penalty. While it may have looked dubious, what do you expect the team and the manager to do? Laugh politely and condescendingly pat the referee on the back whilst gently guiding him to make the right decision?

This game opened my eyes to just how unbelievably off the pace my national team actually is, and how likeable both teams are. It may have been a stroke of luck to win that penalty, but Raheem Sterling putting up his hand for it is not a damning indictment of English football.

What a final we have in store! As someone who will likely never experience it, I hope all English fans enjoy the next few days of planning, anticipation and general daydreaming they will indulge in. Should football come home on Sunday, I’ll console myself with thoughts of your monstrous hangovers to come.


The correct final
Wow!  England in a major final.  I never thought I’d see the day.  I’m not an England fan (Northern Ireland all the way – England fans stole Sweet Caroline!) but I’m glad they got through.  I’m a Southgate-sceptic (and I still think Mancini will stick him in a tactical vice), but nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Italy and England have clearly been the best two teams in the tournament, so it’s the correct final.  Hopefully, this means that everyone will shut up about Italia 90 and Euro 96 now – the two tournaments when England NEARLY got to the final.  Those two ‘glorious’ failures have been done to death now.  By the way, this thing about ‘everyone’ hating the England team is massive projection by people who hate England, for non-footballing reasons.  England fans, your team is a final, 90 minutes or 120 minutes away from winning a major tournament. Embrace it.


What a tournament
What a wonderful tournament we’ve been treated to. Although most of the groups were just warm up, with not much jeopardy (even the Group of Death saw all three major teams progress), we got some terrific group stage football from the likes of Italy and the Netherlands, while Germany produced arguably the performance of the tournament in tearing Portugal apart.

But then the knockout stages have been played at an incredible standard. Nearly every game has been a belter, between teams playing cohesive, high quality football. The players have been so good that the discourse around much of the top teams have been around who can be left out (aside from England’s Sterling/Sancho/Grealish/Saka/Foden debate Germany had their own Havertz/Sane/Werner/Gnabry discussion, Spain with Morata, Oyarzabal, and Moreno vying for one spot, and Italy only having room for three of the excellent quintet of Immobile, Berardi, Insigne, Chiesa and Belotti (to say nothing of Bernadeschi)).

On the England game:

– Towering performances from Stones, Maguire and Rice. All three were genuinely world class. Rice is going to be some player.
– Shaw was excellent too, his moment of naivete aside. A touch ironic that despite the pre-tournament discussion about England’s riches at right back, the right back has been the weakest performer in the back four in the last two matches (despite Walker being very good himself).
– Terrific performance by Harry Kane. Weirdly for a player of such standing in the game, Kane is a confidence player himself. If he starts a game poorly, the whole game is a write-off for him, whereas if he starts well he plays well throughout.
– Bukayo Saka too was great. Is there any more likeable player in the England squad? Starting to rival Kante for me in the likeability stakes.
– It was a pretty average performance from Kalvin Phillips, who seemed overawed early on. He grew into the game, but his positioning throughout was wayward. It’s hard to justify changing a winning team, but after the last couple of cameos Southgate is probably thinking seriously about starting Henderson in the final.
– All up, England played terrifically, and got better as the game wore on, with spot on tactics, and even the most Denmark loving neutral couldn’t have begrudged England the win in a positive performance from generally likeable players (except for Maguire, who came across as a bit of a dick – he’s certainly a far cry from the humble lag who turned up to England camp with his gear in bin liners).


It’s incredibly embarrassing to be progressing at the expense of this Danish team, with all they’ve endured, because of an act of blatant cheating – let’s call it what it is. It’s in big moments, under high pressure, that character is revealed, and Raheem Sterling was found incredibly wanting. I know he’s got previous with diving but it simply wasn’t the moment. It leaves a massive sour taste in the mouth that threatens to overshadow the joy of England making the final at all, which is a shame because England did deserve to win, they were excellent.


Mount the hero
I’m sure lots of people will have seen it by now, and while on the surface it’s wholesome and lovely, I just want to make a case that this is even more fabulous than that warm fuzzy feeling we all get in our tummies.

What happened in literal terms is a footballer who played in the biggest game of his international career and won, took his shirt and gave it to a kid in the crowd. The kid and parent were overjoyed, and the footballer then looked back with a big grin.

Alright let’s take a minute to think deeply and (almost definitely over-) analyse this. I’m not that old (33), but old enough to remember a few things about football when I was growing up:

Footballers have been painted as selfish, over-entitled playboys who don’t care about the fans or the game. With more than a whiff of classism and condescension to (largely) working class men who’ve had the nerve to earn a lot of money.

England’s supporters have been variously described as yobbos, drunkards, nationalists, racists and… well it goes on. Not always unjustly, but we’re not all like that and we know it.
And the biggest point: girls didn’t watch or play football when I was a kid. It was for the boys

So onto Mount, scanning the crowd, hopping the barrier to walk up to a young girl and give her his shirt, and her so overjoyed to have gotten it, hugging her (presumed) father tightly, fans congratulating her (and her dad) and then Mount looking back with a huge grin. Try telling me it didn’t matter to him. Tell me all the fans are scum. Tell me football isn’t for girls. Whatever the real circumstances of that moment it was fucking brilliant, the crest of a wave of overwhelming, beautiful, raw, emotion. When I want to teach my son and daughter what England are all about I’ll dig that video out and show them.
Steven Potts, an emotional wreck of an Englishman in Oslo, (COME ON ENGLAND!)


Diving spoiling the fun
… when on Sunday Italy wins via a penalty given after an Immobile dive, I wonder?

I have to admit, I was angry after the game. With the ref – and with Sterling. With the exception of Schmeichel Sterling was easily the best player on the pitch (to be fair, Maguire looked immense as well), but that dive… And Kane (who showed why he collects so many assists over a season) is a terrible diver as well.
If it’s a disgrace when Immobile does it, it’s a disgrace when Kane and Sterling do it – all the more so, when the ref actually falls for it.

As Per Mertesacker explained on TV, with all the guidelines established about giving only clear penalties and the refs line firmly established in Rome when not falling for the Italian antics, he should simply have decided, play on, and then let VAR determine whether it was a CLEAR-CUT penalty, in which case VAR would have overruled the decision (and not doing it the way he did, giving a penalty, then letting VAR check whether it was a CLEAR-CUT dive).

Anyway, it spoils the fun and the good performance. Yes, England was the better team and looked like they would score any second – but they didn’t. And got the final on a silver plate. Do they DESERVE to be in the final? Not in my book. In my book you don’t deserve to win because you are the better team and have more shots on goal. In my book you deserve to win when you score more goals than the opposition. YOU, not the ref. And that 2nd goal was a ref goal. Against tournament guidelines to not give soft penalties.

With all that said, Italy vs. England sounds like one of the few possible interesting finals every neutral spectator will have hoped for after the group stage. I just hope it doesn’t become a contest of shithousery.
JJ, Germany


‘News flash’: We didn’t say England deserve it more than any other country…
Quite shocked this morning. I was thinking about sending in a mail about Sam Matterface’s ludicrous commentary at the end of the game, when I open up 16 conclusions to see the same sentiment in conclusion 1: England deserve this because of the 18 months we’ve had.

News flash, Covid has affected other countries too. Everyone, worldwide has been affected and suffered. To say England deserve this because of Covid is incredibly myopic and I’m genuinely surprised to read it on a site such as F365.

England also don’t deserve this because of 55 years of hurt. No more than any country does. Most countries in Europe have never won a majority tournament. England have had more success in recent tournaments than most European nations. Why England ‘deserve’ this anymore than Poland or Hungary or Belgium or anyone else, I really don’t know.

This England team however deserve this because they were fantastic and have been all tournament. But England as a nation deserves it no more than any other country.
Mike, LFC, London


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