Not sure if you’ve heard, but football’s coming home this week. Get your views into email@example.com…
Fear of the consequences
As an Englishman and convinced European I find myself torn in my loyalties. I want this brilliant English squad of players and their equally brilliant manager to win but have a horror of the nationalist flag-waving and justification for xenophobia that might result (with Boris Johnson claiming he contributed). Brexit has f*****d us all up.
I find the pictures of Johnson and Starmer delighting in England’s success pathetic. I doubt that either is a football supporter but have no doubt neither will lift a finger to help more youngsters get involved in the game.
Ian CFC) Hugo
We still believe
Oh ‘belief’ there you are my cruel mistress. How I’ve missed you.
Chris Hardy (Loving this daily anticipation of God knows what)
F365 Features: Ukraine 0-4 England: Rating the players
Weird word innit? Right now I don’t feel particularly nice, I feel hungover and a little smelly and dry. Which, weirdly enough, is how I used to look at our England teams. Dour faces, a whiff of try-too-hard-never-be-good-enough. But this team are nice, a little bit. Not necessarily in how they play, although they did just win their quarter final like it was a walk in the park, but in who and what they are. They’re… Nice? Is nice still a bad word, it used to be, like you’d be sad if a girl called you nice. But I don’t think Gareth would care if we called the team nice. I think he’d appreciate it. I think he’d take any and all compliments like a true Englishmen – with a nod, a shrug, a smile and a bit of “thanks” whilst looking awkward.
There are many tactical improvements, driven by a fine data analysis department. I can’t remember the guys name now, but England stole Welsh Rugby’s head of data analysis and has had him for 4ish years now and, well, it seems to be paying dividends. Anyway, what we’ve said, you’ve said, everywhere I have read have said over and over and over is – England are nice. Their team is, their manager is, their players are, we’re likeable. In a time where I would punch our prime minister, where our country is divided except we’re all locked in doors so can’t argue about it, where the world is basically on fire and everyone is keeping to themselves, its quite nice to like a bunch of lads who are… Nice.
Gareth Southgate is that manager that does a little chest thumping, but not too much – don’t want to look like a fool. The team are that kind where they actually DO look to the next game and not get carried away. It all feels a bit too… Nice.
My mum said England will beat Ukraine by at least 3 goals. She knows nothing. You always assume you’ll lose 10-0 in my opinion but she was right. Which is nice.
And even if England lose to Denmark, which my mum says will be 2-0 to us, then we’ve had a bloody nice time, haven’t we? Its been fun. And whilst there is no 3rd/4th place play-off, I’d watch England again. Maybe half the nations across the world would. Even Ukraine, especially the Ukrainian journalist who called England ‘smug’.
We could point to the generation of players that have come through, the attacking flair, the Kane being able and the Foden of British talent. But Southgate was there, wasn’t he. He gave them some tournament football when they were wee little boys, got em a Under 21 title. They don’t see Southgate as I did, they know him a little better than I do – maybe he isn’t so… Nice? Maybe he is a driven, focused, smart individual who can instil his ideas and beliefs on a squad in short time. I mean he didn’t at Middlesborough but we can’t have everything.
I’m going to try and be more… English. This England. This portrayal of a good Brit. I’ll focus on the next game, I’ll not get carried away. I’ll be a bit – nice.
And in the words of Kurt Vonnegut – If this isn’t nice… What is?
It ain’t coming home
Whilst I appreciate all the national fervour which has come about because of Englands efforts in the Euros, can we all have a bit of perspective. Yes England are unbeaten, yes they have conceded no goals, but how many good teams have they really played? and more importantly how many good games have they played this tournament? 4-0 over Ukraine, big deal, name 4 players from the Ukraine side, 2-0 over Ze Germans who are frankly pretty crap and have been for a while, 0-0 vs Scotland, really? you couldn’t beat the Scots? and now we have all these fans chanting “It’s coming home”
Well its not coming home. England may sneak past Denmark, but then again there is a good chance they will bottle it like they have done in every other major tournament they have played bar 1966. If they do manage to outlast the Danes they will face Italy or Spain who will school England as it will be first time in the tournament they would have faced a decent footballing team after having such a soft draw.
So save all your back slapping, chanting and beer swilling anthems for another day. It ain’t coming home.
If this gets printed don’t bother responding until after the tournament is over, and I will be happy to take your congratulations for calling things how they are. In fact I may even send a ‘I told you so’ email to remind you.
Gary not Nostradamus (keeping it real since 1974), Western Australia
Attack, attack, attack
It was funny switching from the BBC to Dutch telly after the match yesterday. The BBC pundits were running out of superlatives to describe the English performance, everyone and everything was brilliant. I switched over to VI Oranjezomer and the first thing Rene van der Gijp said on Dutch telly was: “England has got all that attacking talent, they are playing Ukraine and they choose to play two defensive midfielders. I just cannot understand it.” The difference between being objective and subjective. If Southgate had been more adventurous in this tournament, not only would we now be in the semi final, this English team would be remembered forever for their attractive, swashbuckling and attacking style of football. Brazil 1970, the Netherlands 1974, Brazil 1982, Spain 2010, England 2020/21. What a legacy, Gareth. You have 2 games left to not only win the hearts of those for whom winning is everything, but also the hearts of those who believe in the glory of the beautiful game. Attack, attack, attackattackattack.
Guy Thomas, Breda
Calm down, calm down
I get that since I speak and read English most of the football media I read comes from the English perspective. And I get that it’s been a long time coming. And I get being exuberant over a win and progressing to the semi finals. And yes, you can only beat the teams in front of you.
But let’s be clear, Ukraine were really average. The first two goals were defensive mistakes, and before someone jumps in and says every goal is defensive mistake, some errors are unforced and Ukraine are guilty of that. Obviously after the second goal heads dropped a bit, and Ukraine aren’t a team set up to attack with a 2 goal deficit. Credit to England for being efficient, but in general the game was pretty average despite the goals. Not as boring as the Swiss/Spanish, but nowhere near the quality and tension of the Belgium/Italy game. Some of the reaction reminds me a bit of the Arsenal fan reports when they beat Brighton in the FA cup or something.
Look, if England win it’ll be fun and I always like to see new winners. But let’s be honest, they’ll probably have only played two quality teams the entire tournament, and let’s not forget the “home advantage.” In any case. Euro 2020 won’t go down as a classic tournament, given the overall quality of football. I mean, the English will remember it if they win, and maybe we’ll all remember crowds being back, but 2020 is no Euro 2000. Good luck all the same.
André (fun at parties) E
…What a splendid tournament this has been, given the circumstances.
I quite understand the new-found euphoria evident in my fellow England fans following that last performance, but let’s take a moment for sober reflection. Although I’m delighted that the two club teams I support are so well represented in this wonderful England side, we have still to get past Denmark, who just thrashed the best Welsh team in a millenia.
Football might be coming home, but we’re not home just yet.
John (move along, nothing to see here) AFC & THFC
…Perusing the mailbox reactions this morning, I can’t help thinking if that had been a pre-tournament warm-up (which it had all the feel of) you’d all be saying “calm down, it’s only Ukraine. We’ll face batter teams than that and we’d better up our game or we’ll never make it out of the group”.
…Pretty sick of hearing variations on ‘after what the country’s been through we needed that’ from English pundits. It’s a f*cking pandemic. Every country has suffered.
Bill, On an oil rig.
A glimpse of a better country?
I read Tom’s article. Honestly that’s one of the worst articles I’ve ever read and I have to read my own emails before I send them.
How does a football team winning a few matches even begin to create a better more unified country? You were definitely drunk on English pride while you wrote that article because even if England wins the euros and every world cup for the rest of time it wouldn’t change the fact that there is a huge division in this country, actually there’s several.
Rich and poor. North and South. White and…everyone else. English and foreign.
It’s a fractured nation half filled with people who actively want it to go back in time to the days of causal racism, aggressive sexism and rampant selfishness because those were the “glory years”
I think it’s great England won and I’m genuinely happy England fans have cause to celebrate, especially given many people (myself included) were pretty harsh with the team….but it did not fix a single thing.
When the dust settles, half the country will still be aggressively xenophobic. They will still think giving equal rights is political correctness gone mad and they’ll still think that helping people weaker than yourself makes you look weaker. These are problems football can’t fix.
Pmsl at the guy who wrote a dissertation in the mailbox the other day about why Sterling should be dropped. Absolute clown.
Kane was at it too
Lots of talk about Italian ‘dark arts’ from English fans on Saturday – though I’ve not heard much from them about Kane throwing himself to the floor leading to the second English goal. Interesting.
Gamesmanship is a major part of modern football from all teams, yet a certain strand of the English population still views football as a vehicle for xenophobia.
England in the Prem
Happy days with England doing us proud yet again. Another clean sheet, Kane finding his form at the right time, confidence on the up, togetherness clear, most of the pre-tournament favourites gone…this has to be England’s best hope of winning it, certainly in my lifetime! The team actually look like a team, and play as a unit who haven’t just been thrown together and had a few weeks of a training camp to get their understanding sorted…they do actually feel more like a club. Which got me thinking…I wonder how this England side would do if they were all at one club?
Man City or Man United would probably be the best candidates for the host of this hypothetical given their financial means + having 4 players apiece in their existing squads already (if we count Sancho already). I guess the tricky part would be trying to coax players from the other Manchester side across the road here. I think there’s an equal chance of both of them playing hardball, certainly when it comes to Sancho on one side, and Foden on the other. Throw in Kane, Grealish, Rice, Phillips (probable) valuations being sky high too, and we’re looking at about a billion quid’s worth of signings, which is a stretch even for these two take-my-money clubs. So let’s just create a new club; England Utd.
How would they do in the Prem? Are England Utd better than the current Man City side (minus Sterling, Foden, Walker, Stones)? Are they better than Man Utd (minus Sancho, Rashford, Shaw, Maguire)? You’d expect those two sides to splash the cash to replace them, so it’s hard to say. City would like Grealish as a replacement, but he’s already gone to England Utd. Similar question vs Liverpool…they’d only be losing Henderson, who technically would be easily replaceable, but influentially less so. Chelsea would be losing Reece-James and Mount, who are quality, but I don’t think Chelsea as a club would worry too much at their loss, as they’d just go hard in the transfer market to replace.
Man-for-man, I think England Utd would be lacking in the keeper department and probably out and out striker options. What do they do if Kane is injured? The Liverpool trio is arguably more threatening? In midfield too, on paper, you’d take the City midfield featuring KDB, Fernandinho, Rodri, Bernardo Silva over the likes of Rice, Phillips, Henderson. Similarly at Chelsea you’re comparing them to Kante, Havertz, Jorginho. Then you look at the back-line…Stones and Maguire would be up against pairing such as VVD/Gomez, Diaz/Ake, Rudiger/Thiago (ok Thiago Silva is getting on a bit tbf).
On paper, England Utd wouldn’t walk the league. They wouldn’t necessarily find the CL easy either, though as we’ve seen in the Euro’s, tournament football could be where this group of players can do something. League football is very different, and relentless. You’d think they’d find a rhythm and know how to climb the league, but I do feel the likes of Liverpool and City might be better in the long run. I’m pegging England Utd to finish 3rd in the league, guaranteed CL qualification, and then to go on to win that tournament the following season.
Be interested in hearing other’s opinions on this never-gonna-happen hypothetical.