England’s Euro 2020 heartbreak: The Mailbox inquest opens

Date published: Monday 12th July 2021 8:15 - Editor F365

That was brutal. Let’s have your thoughts for the afternoon mailbox to theeditor@football365.com


Pride of a nation
Well done, England.

That’s it. That’s the message.
Chris, so so proud


…Absolutely devastated about the result. Deliriously happy about everything that’s happened in the past month. We have been superb and every one of the players has done us all proud.

I’ve never liked the England team at any point in my life, but Gareth Southgate and these players have made me fall in love with England. Every single one gets a 10/10 from me.

As an aside, that Pickford save directly before the Bonucci goal where he palms the ball into the post might be the best save I’ve ever seen.

We still believe (we still believe), we still believe (we still believe)!


…Those boys should be so proud. Exceptional bunch. Italy deserved that to be fair – but we are a young team with ooodles of potential which we should see is right for the next few years.

I’ve taken my son to Wembley once into the euro qualifiers and he is now desperate to go again – which says it all really. Inspirational.
Tom, Charlton


…That’s an absolute wounder.

So Bloody sad

So God Damn Poud

Heroes One and All

Much Love
James, Reaching Out, Leics


…I’ve been a closet England fan for so long now. Watching the games passionately but always feeling the need to add a caveat to my support. ‘Yes I know but…’, ‘maybe if’… We’re not all…

Not tonight. Tonight it was nice to look people in the eye, in an england shirt,.and be proud to be represented by a squad of players who, if there is any shared national identity left to represent us, should be this squad of players whose exploits and commitment on and off the field have been a source of pride and joy for a good period now. To be represented by a 19 year old star with the minerals to say yes, I’ll take the fifth penalty. To be represented by those who have supported the NHS, and the disadvantaged in this most tumultuous of 18 months. Tonight, I’m mainly proud to be English and I hope we remember we are all much closer than we are apart.
Reece, Qatar (why was jorginho still on the pitch…)


16 Conclusions: The Euro 2020 final


…Winty had an article late last week suggesting that last nights result didn’t matter as the team had already won. I’m surprised to find myself feeling that way. Are there things I wish we’d done differently, choices Southgate made that I didn’t really agree with, yeah but my main emotion tonight is one of belief. This is a group and a manager that can really compete. Say what you want but our time under Southgate has been one of major improvement that suggests an intriguing future.

The penalty takers were planned, discussed ahead of time, and some kind of a collective decision – it just didn’t work out. That happens. Introducing Grealish later than we might have wished is the flip side of the canny decision to sub him as a substitute in the Denmark game.
In all the postmortems I do hope we are Southgate through the same lens as we see Foden, Saka, rice, and Sancho: as a youngster in their role who has shown precocious promise and deserves our faith and support.
Michael B, Colorado


…Penalty heartbreak again. Simultaneously horribly predictable and yet unbelievable in it’s cruelty.

Not the best English performance by a long shot in this tournament and , in a way, the early goal hurt us. We sat back far, far too early and by the time the Italians equalised, they had all the momentum.

We certainly weren’t ‘found out’ though, there’s a reason Italy have been unbeaten in so long. They may be the best side in the world, they certainly were in Europe before last night.

Nearly everyone left with their reputations enhanced – none more than Pickford . I thought the emotion might get to him, instead it inspired him. He was magnificent in the shootout in particular.

It was a the wrong time for Sterling to have a quiet night and I suspect he’ll hear a lot more about not taking a penalty and putting that insane pressure on a teenager. His tournament was incredible though and he’s as much reason as anyone we were in the final in the first place. Without him, maybe we don’t even get through the groups.

If I wasn’t convinced by Gareth’s substitutes, it’s the only thing he got wrong all summer and even that’s subjective. The lads score those penalties and he’s a genius beyond compare . Such thin lines.

In 2018 we said they’d regret losing to Croatia for the rest of their careers, they might never get so close again. And here we are, two penalties from being European champions only 3 years later.

There’s only be way to go forward from here and who’s to say they can’t do it? World Cup semis, Nations League semis, Euro finalists. Unquestionably one of the best 4 teams in the world, you can’t be lucky three tournaments in a row.

Keep Gareth , learn again from this, go that one stage further.

And learn that just wellying a penalty will always be best.
James, Liverpool


…Never easy to take losing on penalties, but congratulations to Italy, think they were deserved winners over the course of the tournament. Lot of begrudging respect to them, they are so good at finding a way.
From an England perspective what a ride, first final in 55 years so let’s not be too disappointed. The players gave everything and to a man seem a bunch we can be proud of as representatives of our country. Feel so sorry for Saka, he looked devastated and it’s a massive ask for a 19-year-old to take the fifth spot kick. Gareth Southgate is also an ambassador we can take pride in, lovely guy and done so many good things off the pitch that have dripped through to on the pitch.
Sadly though, despite the narratives, it seems we are still (for now) the England cliche of going out to the first genuinely decent side we meet in a tournament – just depends when the draw dictates that may be. Like in 2018 the chickens came home to roost, only this time they were a bit more avoidable. Still, who wouldn’t have taken losing the final on penners and being proud of the team’s efforts a month ago?
Ronnie Buzzard, Manchester


…Sometimes in football a game gets away from you. Players run themselves into the ground and it doesn’t seem to change that awful feeling of impending doom. In moments like this a manager can look to his bench and if they are lucky, they might have a player or two that can produce a moment of magic, or maybe nick a goal. The worst feeling is when you see your bench and realise there is nothing there to stop what’s coming. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

The real worst feeling is this; seeing not one, two or three but more options on the bench…and watching your manager use none of them.

England had several players and changes that Southgate could have made, but in the end he failed to use his squad as effectively as he could have. Usually these criticisms are balanced by “hindsight”…but we had hindsight this time. We didn’t need anymore to see glaringly obvious tactical decisions being ignored, whilst watching something clearly not work. It felt like watching my son put his coat on upside down, and only deciding to help him once he had been rained on for 20 minutes.

The whole second half to me at least, was screaming for a player with pace for a ball in behind their high, fairly slow defence…or at least a player to hold the ball and keep possession, maybe even carry it 20 yards forward. We could argue that Saka was the latter…but the the change came after deservedly conceding the equaliser. For the whole second haIf I watched on as our wonderful, outstanding manager did nothing. I knew long before Extra Time this game was lost. I think we all did.

I can’t even find the words right now to sum up the choices he made in Extra Time, and it felt like every bad decision he did or didn’t make was compounded by the decision to let a 19 year old take the deciding penalty. To let 2 young players before him take penalties with a minute of football on the night. It doesn’t matter what Southgate see’s in training to understand that that just does not make much sense. And no, it isn’t something that “you praise him for if it goes right”.

Why could Rashford not have come on for Mount at half time? Why, when Sterling was clearly having an off day and is never fancied for penalties anyway, was Sancho not introduced earlier? I can see why Kane, despite a relatively quiet game, was left on. But there was no logic, to me at least, in the tactical decisions past half time. The game was lost by our manager, who really ought to have learned from our defeat to Croatia in the World Cup. I hope he really learnt tonight.

Unfortunately, we will only ever know if he has by reaching the same heights, which will always be a marvellous success in itself, and then seeing if he fails again. This, for the first time, felt like a posisible ceiling for Gareth…and I really hope it is not the case. I am in no way calling for him to move on…he is absolutely the man to lead us forward but if he can not learn to trust his bench, to be braver, to be bolder at the right moments, then we will be forever destined to lose at this level. Because your always going to face a manager and a team that IS prepared to do those things.

So, congratulations on a wonderful achievement and to everyone involved who played their part. Not just for the commitment, effort and ability but also for how they carried themselves as men, and as role models. I am immensely proud, I have loved and supported them through every second of the tournament and will continue to do so as we head into the next one. Tonight hurt, bitterly, and Southgate must take the blame. But you don’t lose, you learn…at least let’s hope so.

Congrats to Italy, that midfield trio is the best in the world right now and they will take some stopping next year.
Tommy Vincent


…Those last 2 substitutes were the only time Southgate got it wrong in the whole tournament.

However, a great tournament overall for England. Southgate and the England players can hold their heads high.
Phil (exiled in Brisbane) Chiz


…I’m proud of them.

Every single one of them.

They stood against attacks from their own government and a section of their fanbase to stand for things they believed in.

They were joined only by Wales and Belgium throughout on racism (and massive credit to them too) and Italy only in the final – itself a victory. They stood for LGBTQI rights when most other sides did not.

And you know what? They qualified for the final of a major international tournament in my lifetime and they did good. They held a remarkable Italy side to a draw – only the second time in 30-something matches that had happened to them.

And then our goalkeeper saved as many penalties as their ‘specialist’.And the youngsters who took penalties will grow into it in future.

I am proud.

Of what they achieved in the tournament – for now, we are Europe’s second-best side – but also because we stood and stand for something.

Perhaps some of you don’t care about that, but it means a lot to me.

Well done England. We did a step better than 2018: let’s do a step better than this time in 2022…

Thank you. Really.
Rory O’Keeffe, Thessaloniki, Greece


Southgate takes ‘responsibility’ for England’s Euro 2020 final loss


Ole Garethar Southskjaer
Manager too terrified to make a change when the game is getting away from him, settles for penalties and loses on penalties.

Where have I seen that in the last couple of months?
Wayne, Manchester


…If you’re the manager, in the end it’s up to you to make the big decisions. Successful managers – in any walk of life – are brave enough to do so.

Southgate – who was brave with the media, brave backing his lineups and brave in so many ways up til this evening – hid.

Italy were there for the taking from the 80th minute, and he did nothing. Absolutely pathetic. Deserves all the justifiable criticism that will come his way.
Ryan, Bermuda


…Sure, he did well to get to the final. But bringing on 2 players to take pens when they hadn’t touched the ball and then have a 19 year old take the final pen is pretty sh*t management.

That’s not even taking into account leaving Mount and Rice on for so long when they were barely even taking part in the match.

Oh well, at least it’s back to expectations for Southgate and England.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC


…There is much to admire about how Gareth Southgate has gone about changing this England team but the buck ultimately stops with him. Cowardly safe defensive football with every creative game changer left on the bench, no in game management and no tactical acumen, his boring safety first football may win you games against lesser opposition but the big boys will eat you for breakfast. Harry Kane is not and will never be World class missing in action for 80% of the game dropping deep and giving wide players nothing to aim at in the box while two middle aged Italian defenders laughed at Southgate for leaving both Rashford and Sancho on the bench, two players then thrown on with two minutes to go and expected to then be up to speed to take a penalty. Southgate needs to step down and a more attack minded manager take over. Thanks for the memories Gareth time for a change.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


…For roughly the past two years writers at F365 have railed against Ole at Manchester United on the basis of 3 main arguments:
1- He’s not the best manager United could have
2- No other top team would want to hire him
3- He doesn’t have any defined style of play which means they’ll never win trophies with him in charge.

Now instead of Ole at Man Utd consider Southgate at England. It is actually funny to see F365 bend over backwards to defend a manager in Southgate who no other serious footballing nation would want to hire. A manager who does not have a defined style of play save corners and penalties, which got exposed against Scotland, Italy, and nearly vs Denmark. Southgate coming unstuck on pens vs Italy after Ole came unstuck against Villareal in the same manner just makes it all come full circle.

BTW who puts a 19 year old on the final penalty in a major tournament final?
Aniruddh, MUFC, Pittsburgh


…So, Southgate and England have paid for playing anti-football. Parking the bus from half time, making virtually no use of the amazing attacking talent at his disposal – all tournament. Throwing on two lads who’ve barely played – all tournament – in the 120th minute to take penalties in the final. Genius. Terrified of attacking teams – all tournament. Southgate is just an awful tactician, his in game management is horrendous – not a single attacking change tonight aside from Grealish. Left Sancho and Rashford on the bench against a slow, ageing and tired back line. He has no idea how to use attacking players, and his team play horrific, defensive football. Everyone lapped up grinding out ugly wins but the truth is Southgate spent the entire tournament insulting the attacking talent in the squad as he endlessly selected fullbacks, centre half’s and central midfielders ahead of them. Tony Pulis in an FA suit. Got what he deserved
IG, Aberdeen


…We lost that game because we didn’t maximise our strengths.

We played to hide our weaknesses instead of to highlight our strengths.

We played to contain a side we could have been better than, and every choice made during the game by Southgate was safety first.

Saka instead of Sancho because of his tracking back.

Mount instead of Grealish because of his pressing.

Henderson instead of Bellingham because of history.

Wingbacks playing as a back 5 instead of pushing up.

I’ve never been anything but a supporter of Southgate as England manager, he is absolutely the best man for the job, but this entire tournament has been a learning experience for him.

This whole tournament has been a huge advance for England, but it has not been a triumph as we have not – Southgate has not – embraced the aspects of our squad that are strongest.

I believe that Southgate will look at the statistics of this tournament and see that his choices held us back rather than advanced us. We were not the best we could be.

I would hope that F365 as a collective will do the same, because it is perfectly possible to be both hugely in favour of this squad and this manager while also seeing that there were choices made here that did not maximise our chances of winning.

Against Germany we were less likely to win than lose. Against Italy we were lucky to even get to extra time.

I’m proud of what we achieved, but football is about making the most of your strengths. It’s about giving yourself the highest chance of making things happen in your favour.

England and Southgate did not do that.

Which.. is what I and several others were saying all the way through.

Anyway. Roll on the World Cup, hopefully with lessons learned, and to be completely clear:

Southgate and this squad are exactly what we need.

Just slightly different in mindset.
Tim Sutton

Italy 1-1 England (pens 3-2): Rating the players


…Southgate and England had a phenomenal tournament until the last 75 mins.

Incredible respect for all the penalty takers having the guts to step up (Gareth says he picked them, but there’s always a huge element of sticking your hand up) and especially Saka.

But he shouldn’t have been allowed to take a kick, especially not that one.

We’re slowly becoming more aware of the importance of mental health with players, but it’s frankly disappointing that someone as smart and experienced as Gareth didn’t clock the risk to a 19 year old taking the potentially final penalty.

It’s one thing to have young lads playing with and against 30 something YOs in normal time. But moments like that? For their own good they shouldn’t be chosen, shouldn’t be allowed to volunteer.

The buck stops with manager – but the more experienced players should hang their heads in shame at standing by and letting the young lad take the most important kick for England in over half a century.
Calum, Scotland
P.S. Bad as Southgate had it after ’96, the hell that is social media guarantees Saka (& Rashford & Sancho) will face a far worse immediate abuse than he did.
P.P.S. Lots of moaning online about Italy fouls/gamesmanship and especially Chiellini’s hilariously blatant foul on Baka. That’s what the game is, sadly. England have wised up quite a bit but they need to realise Italy’s 5 yellow cards were an essential part of their victory. Play the game your opponent is playing.


…Southgate looked like he purposefully delayed the introductions of Rashford and Sancho until there was barely a ball to be kicked. You’re telling me two players who have performed at the top level for their clubs couldn’t be trusted on the pitch for 15 mins to at least settle their nerves if not to try to actually win the game using their pace? Their first touches were basically penalties. In a final.

Poor Saka. I feel so sorry for him. The balls on him to stand up to take that last penalty, when seasoned pros like Sterling and national treasures like Jack Grealish were hiding is something to be proud of. I know you have a tradition of calling Lampard Bambi here, but Saka really was Bambi. Protect him at all costs please.

I feel like Rashford and Sancho might recover quicker because they’re going into an environment at Old Trafford that’s used to this happening. Ole was there when Beckham was the scapegoat, he was there when Ronaldo was too, and as a really good man manager, he knows how to protect and motivate his players. But Saka is going to a club in a state of limbo, with a manager who falls out with players all the time, and I really hope Arteta can manage him through this situation because he is a gifted and ridiculously intelligent footballer.

But it wasn’t the penalties that cost England. Two shots on target, and 34% possession in a final at home in front of 60 thousand of their own fans, Southgate didn’t give England a chance. He’s a lovely human being, but he isn’t top level football manager because he doesn’t risk anything to win. Ultimately, England got what they deserved for playing in their biggest game in 50 years like Burnley, when they had the players to play like City.
IP (Maguire’s pen was a real cracker)


Some conclusions
1:Italy deserved it, both on the night and overall in the tournament.

2: I feel for the players that missed their penalties, too fresh on the pitch and it’s too much of an ask.

3: Southgate and that squad have done themselves proud and I hope they don’t get torn apart on this site and in the wider media.

4: Watch the scenes outside the stadium and you’ll see why your fans are the reason the rest of us are delighted.
Eoin (it’s not coming home) Ireland


…What a start, everything we hoped, incredible control on the shot. And then we went on the back foot, rather than go for the second. Invited them on to us. Which was fine, we mopped up well, mostly.

And then Rice went off and Henderson came on, and proceeded to let Verratti to have all the space he liked to pick a pass. Which was fine, I guess, as nothing came from it.

But then, with all that attacking talent on the bench, two opposing centrebacks on yellows and a tied match, Southgate refuses outright to try and win it. Refuses to bring on players who might actually take shots. Sterling, good as he has been at moments in the last few games, he was terrible in this. Just wouldn’t take a shot, desperately trying to mug seasoned pros who deal with this nonsense every week.

Should Chiellini and Jorginho have seen more than a yellow for their cynical and then dangerous fouls? Maybe. But we didn’t do enough to win it. In fact, for the most of the last 90 minutes, we didn’t even really try.

Southgate did very well to get England to the final, first in 55 years. And the team did really well to contain, and remain calm. But I’m sorry, people on this site have lauded him for his brilliant substitutions and that was always bollocks, his subs were terrible today. Henderson was awful. Saka just seemed overwhelmed. And leaving Rashford and Sancho on the bench so long, not even enough time to get their eye in before penalties, let alone a chance to actually attack that back four.

We can be proud of the team, proud of getting to the final. Rice and Phillips should be the bedrock of the team for the next 8 years. Shaw is a new man, and the defence generally was amazing throughout. Pickford deserves his place fully. Sterling has had moments of brilliants along with many others of frustration. Kane, good and amazing in flashes but really needs to remember he’s a striker not a #10, or be paired with someone who can shoot.

Saka is going to be excellent. Grealish and Mount are wonderful as is Foden. No idea if we’ll ever see Rashford and Sancho start again under this manager even though they’re two of our best talents.

But maybe we can “put a pin” in giving Southgate a knighthood now?


On to the next one

As a neutral, all I can say is lads grow some balls. 5 defenders and 2 defensive minded midfielders is too much.

Looking at the England 23 man squad I actually feel like you would have won if you played the same 4-3-3 formation as Italy. Your bench is deeper, your players are faster, younger and technically sound.

Grow some balls and just maybe the World Cup will be yours.
Many in SA (letting a 18 year old take the last kick in a penalty shootout is cruel)


Spot of bother
When Italy won their first European title in 1968 the final also ended 1-1after extra time, although on that occasion they replayed the match and Italy won 2-0 the second time around. The semi-final against the USSR also ended in a tie 0-0, although that was not replayed. The match was decided based on a coin toss, and the Italian captain called it correctly. A coin toss has to be the worst way to decide the outcome of a sporting competition. Only marginally less terrible is penalties.
Determining the outcome of a major sporting event based on what amounts to a skills competition is insane. It would be like deciding the outcome of The Masters in the event of a tie by teeing off from a par 3 and playing closest to the pin. I honestly can’t think of another sport that allows the outcome of an elimination contest to be concluded in anything other than open play.
The National Hockey League decided a number of years ago that nobody liked ties and so during the regular season they play a five minute overtime period. During this overtime each team is reduced by one player, making it more likely that someone will score. First goal in overtime wins. If a winner isn’t determined during the overtime, then they go to penalties. Having said that, come playoff time it all goes out the window. It’s sudden death overtime, and they keep on playing until someone scores. Baseball, basketball, NFL football all continue to play until someone wins.
Adding to the insanity is footballs insistence on playing the entire extra time period, rather than “golden goal”, “sudden death” or whatever you want to call it. Allowing a team the chance to recover after conceding just adds to the likelihood that penalties will be required. Just ask the France ’82 side who took a 2 goal lead in extra time against West Germany and ended up losing on penalties.
Win or lose, ending a match with penalties is unsatisfying.
Maybe it takes a while for someone to score, and if it’s an early elimination round maybe the winners will be tired for the next match. All the more reason to score early and get it over with.
Let them play.
Andrew – Canada


…That was literally Saka’s first ever pen at senior level – was this not considered prior? You kind of have to assume that it was…but what is a worse decision: to place him in THAT SPOT while taking the aforementioned into consideration or not taking it into consideration at all?

Also, you have to wonder what the backlash – without being too specific – certain players who tend to get more online abuse than others might possibly receive based on recent trends.

As one of those people who has always laughed at England’s misfortune…somehow this one is not funny at all.
MAW, LA Gooner (And it’s not just because I support Arsenal)


Gutted we lost – who wouldn’t be.
No complaints though – Italy are an excellent team. We owned the first half of normal time and second half of extra time. They own the rest.
We lost our way and battled back.
They gave everything.
I’m looking forward to the World Cup – puts us in a good position and they will be hungry for more.

I think penalty styles will change – it seems since being made to stay on their line, goalkeepers are saving a lot more penalties – mainly the placed ones as opposed to the ones that are hit as hard as they can.

I think the phrase is “we go again.” With this team I believe they can and will.

Great effort.

Harry Kane, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Declan Rice and Marco Verratti

Kane’s medals

There can’t be that many players to have finished second in the Champions’ League, Premier League and European Championships (plus a couple of League cups) without winning any of them. Will Harry Kane ever be the difference in a major final?


…Maybe Harry Kane needs leave England. A-hem.
Matt Carr, Spurs, Wilmington, NC


Commiserations from Kenya
I’m sad and utterly devastated.

I wrote this from my apartment in Nairobi, Kenya. A place so far away from Wembley, probably thousands of miles.

Even though I’m not a bona-fide fan of the England national football team, I wish that they had won. Not only were they a formidable force but they expressed values that the modem society is in dire need of.

As an Arsenal fan, that Bukayo Saka miss has pierced me like a dagger. Not because of its significance in the game but due to the fact that I’m not scared for the young lad as well as Rashford and Sancho who also missed.

I pray and hope that in this difficult moment, the three young lads will be given support to bounce back and not be abused for not only the misses but their skin colour.

Sorry England fans.. There is still another time to finally bring it home.. And it just might be next year for the biggest prize of all.
David, Nairobi Kenya


Bobby Mancini
Roberto Mancini knows how to win.

In England he turned a bunch of loveable losers that had just come into money into a machine. He stood toe to toe (on one occasion in a hugely high pressure match, quite literally so) with Sir Alex Ferguson and did not take a backward step.

Hugely well organised, occasionally brutal defending. Quality and balance in midfield. A wide range of attacking options, all different so substitutions changed the match as well as the player. He’s not as attacking a coach as Guardiola but the idea that he is defensive is quite frankly total bollocks.

While his departure was inevitable and he made mistakes, his legacy was enormous.

Why are we surprised?
Mark Meadowcroft


Waste of a great goalkeeper
Donarumma is the best goalkeeper in the world. What a waste, going to PSG. As always, f*ck Mino Raiola.
Eamonn, Dublin

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