Southgate’s biggest miracle: making England likeable…

Editor F365

England play in a European Championship semi-final tomorrow. Eek. Get your views in to


Clever England
For all the naysaying about this England team and who they have played so far, this is the first tournament I have watched and not been completely tense as to what cock up would cause England to fail. They have handled each game as they wanted – as they set up to do. They have clearly done their homework on each team, except perhaps underestimating Scotland’s fervour snd set up, but they still got what they wanted including a group win.

Tournaments are a bit of a crap shoot in who turns up on the day and how well prepared teams are. France may have a squad with two top teams worth of players, however, they underestimated the desire of opponents and turned off at times. The Swiss were were worth their win. The Germans lost to France but not by much and turned over a useful Portugal aide but struggled against Hungary. Hungary threatened all three top teams.

No one would have predicted the order of the group stages, which has a huge impact on the knockout stages. Spain didn’t end up in England’s half because they played like shit and some really turgid football in the group stages. They pulled it together for the extra time against a tired Croatia but then struggled against a Swiss team depleted if their ‘star’, Xhaka, on penalties. With Italy riding high, we would give Spain no chance against them, yet claim England lucked out by not having them on their side of the knockout draw.

While Dutch fans are complaining that England aren’t putting all their attacking talent on the field at one time, that didn’t work out well for the Dutch against the unfancied Czechs, who because England easily beat them in the group stage were considered easy meat for the Dutch.

Point of all this? England seem to be playing clever tournament football for the first time in my lifetime, and I watched the 1966 World Cup final. England lost to Germany in 1970 by making substitution errors that let them back in the game. Since then, I have had trepidation in every game. Now, I can relax a bit watching Southgate put sides together for a reason, setting them up and instructing them well. He is easing in his attacking talents, giving them game time and using their eagerness to do well, to play well when they come on. The disjointed nature of the group games – coming after a long season and inability of the squad to train and play together prior to the start of the Euros, has quietly turned into coherent displays – no matter what formation or who comes into the team.

Regardless of how far we get now, this is a blueprint for much better future tournaments, especially as the current crop get more experience and yet more well trained and skillful players come to the fore. The St. George’s experiments and ‘joined up’ planning between England age groups is paying off.
Paul McDevitt


Defend, defend, defend
To Guy Thomas, Breda: Attack, attack, attack: Be remembered like “Brazil 1970, the Netherlands 1974, Brazil 1982, Spain 2010, England 2020/21…”?

Netherlands 1974 didnt win, the Germans (Kaiser Beckenbauer) did.
Brazil 1982 didn’t win; they were sunk by Paolo Rossi and the Italians, who beat W Germany 3-1 in the finals.

Other examples:
France 2018 played a solid game, and won with lots of control. Given the talent they had, they didn’t set the world cup alight either. If anything, only Pogba was remembered for being great at World Cup and cr*p at Man U lol

Greece 2004: Who remembers Pavel Nedved’s Czechs who crashed in the semis or Ronaldo’s Portugal in the finals? No… Instead everyone remembers Greece 2004 and Otto Rehhagel.

France 202one: they weren’t solid at the back. They conceded 2 goals in the last 15 mins and lost on penos. To the Swiss.

Before England can play like Brazil, England gotta tighten at the back.
Else they go home empty handed.
Gab “No skin in the game” YNWA


Mailbox: Scenes when England take the knee outside Downing Street…


Glory to Gareth
The England team is doing well despite the English press. It is obvious that somebody from the squad will miss out on being in the match day squad each match but almost irrelevant decisions like those were even propped up as showing Southgate’s ineptitude.

Missing that penalty and facing the wrath of the public has really made Southgate a man of great fortitude.

Sterling is a similar story; in his post-match interview when he asked about his improved form he all but said that’s down to him not giving anymore f***s about what the public thinks. This is a man who has been chastised about everything since he was a teenager – from moving from Liverpool to buying his mother a house, he was the national villain.

Even after his match winning goal after the first game he was asked about his place in the line up.

Englands golden generation won nothing but the players looked scared to make a mistake; shackled by what might happen if they were held responsible.

If defenses win tournaments, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville is in with a shout of being the greatest Premier league back four ever. All 4 of them have a strong claim in their respective positions. Sol Campbell and Ledley King were almost just as good but the team was held back by the Gerrard-Lampard conundrum.

No manager had the cojones to drop either. They both had to play, even if it meant playing Scholes on the left.

Lampard and Gerrard simply don’t work together. Englands best performances came when Hargreaves and Carrick played instead.

Southgate has ignored similar clamour and England has put in its best tournament performance in decades. The Champions League and Premier League winning captain is benched for players from West Ham United and Leeds United.

The Paul Gasgoine of 2021 has barely featured. As has the English Mbappe.

Even if individually Foden or Rashford may have more talent than Sako, their form and Englands team set up means Sako is a better choice.

Grealish has also been used to devastating effect. I am in the camp who feels Grealish simply must start every match. The boy is special but clearly Southgate knows what he’s doing.

For Southgate it’s about the team, and it shows. England have a team atmosphere and Southgate has managed to insulate the group from the press and the public.

Even if its just for PR, the backstage photos of the team chilling with each other are heartening. Nothing like the stories told by Rio/Neville and co about how the English players hated each other.

England still may not have win this because Italy is the better team but Southgate has given them the best chance to do so.

For all those debbie downers who predicted doom and gloom just to they could turn around and say “I told you so” – I hope you’re also secretly enjoying this.

A likeable English team? That may be Southgate’s biggest miracle yet.
Shehzad Ghias, Mufc, Karachi



Starmer in the stands
Far be it from me to wander into the realms of politics in the hallowed halls of the F365 Mailbox, but in the interests of accuracy Keir Starmer is an Arsenal season ticket holder and a weekly player in a football team himself.

As pathetic and transparent as it is when certain politicians shamelessly attempt to ‘be into football’ when it’s patently obvious that they’d rather be watching sporting alternatives such as chasing an egg around a field or feverishly hunting down migrants, we do have to accept that some of them are actually into the game too.
Marky B. MUFC


Strap in
Oh boy. I can’t wait for the Mailbox backlash against BadWolf.

“Name me a country that didn’t have empires.”


Time to get the popcorn out. This should be good.
Dave Lillis, Dublin


…”What are we to be ashamed of exactly? Name me a country that didn’t have empires.”

And with a sweep of the hand, BadWolf erases all of our negative past because ‘everyone was doing it’. Yet I don’t doubt BadWolf would also celebrate our empire as being ‘greater’ than any before or since. Luckily we don’t have to feel any national dismay over racism because some other countries are worse.

BadWolf, the reason why so many of us feel shame or embarrassment at the fervent flag-waving is that it frequently comes with the same ignorant attitude that you have displayed. National pride does not mean you have to pretend the past didn’t happen. If you truly care about your country you should be more invested in improving the future than celebrating the shameful past. Refusing to live in the real world and hiding behind a blanket of ‘it was just the way things were done then’ is cowardice in the extreme. It doesn’t make you a ‘better’ patriot. It highlights how scared of the truth you are.

You seem to have taken your name from Doctor Who. It’s a shame the broader message seems to have passed you by. Although I’m guessing you stopped watching, right? Between Russell T Davies and bloody woman Doctor, it’s just not on. Didn’t need any of that with Pertwee.


Southgate, Germans and more penalties: England in semi-finals


Why not get carried away?
You hear/read people, (whether it’s certain podcast/tv pundits or Joe/Joanna Public on social media or even friends) telling us that we shouldn’t get carried away with England’s progress in the Euros, while giving the revelation that we haven’t won anything yet.

I’m here to urge you – ignore these people. Enjoy the moment. Go mad for the goals. Celebrate the wins. Cherish the team spirit. Why not? If not now….then when?

Why wait for some weird form of delayed gratification? If we end up losing either the semi final or final then although we can look back with retrospective pride and nostalgia, we’ve lost that chance to soak in and be stimulated by those earlier highs. And if we do win the whole thing, any previous out-pouring of emotion will not detract from the elation that victory will provide. There is not a fun quota. We don’t have an aggregate limit on feelings!

And that’s without addressing the craziness of those who, while supporting England, want to qualify our successes.

As long as the players and staff aren’t counting chickens, eating late-night celebratory kebabs or taking their eye of the proverbial or literal ball then we’re golden. Surely?

Finally, I want to celebrate any fan (English or otherwise) in a stadium who have applauded or cheered the taking of the knee….and drowning out the minority.
Jason, Bromley


Drink it in
1. Mount out, Grealish in. Mount offered very little. I like him but we are blessed with a wealth of talent. My theory is, if in doubt, do what the opponent would least like you to do. Grealish scares the crap out of opponents, that’s a fact. Play him….

2. F365, come on… I strongly agree that everyone should have the right to say what they think, but to lead a letters page with Ian CFC Hugo being so consumed by political bitterness and spite that he can’t even bear to let himself enjoy the success of our national team is unnecessary and encourages those who seek to divide us. Ian, what do you think the leaders of any other party would do in the same situation? They would say nothing?? Give yourself a break from the anger mate, it must be exhausting for you, and is completely unnecessary and achieves literally nothing. Join us, it might be coming home!!! You might even enjoy it if you allow yourself.

3. What a lovely group of lads we have!! JN was spot on in his article. This is the first team I genuinely feel affection for since 1996. Good luck boys!!!
Mike WHU


Gareth Southgate is evaporating England cynicism every day

England abroad?
Lots of positive talk about England and lots of negative comments surrounding us fans being happy. I’ll be honest after the first 4 games I wanted Kane gone but it just goes to show how fickle fans are.

Onto why I emailed in. This obviously isn’t an exact science but isn’t a good barometer of your teams standing how other countries perceive your team?

As a England fan we watch them, follow the papers and know so much about the whole team. As we support and follow these players we would by default be emotionally invested, therefore biased and perhaps overly critical.

Discounting Scotland/Wales/Ireland which teams are happy to face England

What do Ukraine/Czech/Croatian fans or team think when they get drawn against England – Is it ‘oh f*** this I going to be a long shot’ or ‘oh yes we have England, big chance to go through’

What do German/France/Spain/Portugal fans think?

What are the papers like in other countries when their team get England in a tournament? Are they rejoiced? Nonplussed? Fearful?

It would be good to get an understanding from other fans on how they perceive England, then we might get a good understanding

On another note, I had a call with my friend from University last week, he introduced me to this site 10 years ago. He has been following F365 for the last 12 years. Even he was astounded that Jack, 27 has gotten so old. I then had to remind him that we are both 28,29 respectively.

Can’t wait for Wednesday!


…Does it need to be made explicit to The Mailbox that not all of us who read this website are English or live in England? I don’t think many people truly resent English fans for being happy, and the team does seem pretty likable. But, as a wise man once said, everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home.

But fair play to P Didi for putting the accent on my “e”. Maybe you’re not all a bunch of parochial imperialists after all 😉
André E

Sterling’s next move
If Raheem Sterling scores against Denmark to get us to a first final in many decades I sincerely hope he gets a face tat of Black Panther holding an AK47 taking the knee in front of Buckingham Palace as a burning Sun sets.
“God Save our glorious multicultural nation” underneath.

Then buys his Mum a house for sheltering refugees.
Dave, Manchester


Spare us Jenas
Is Jermaine Jenas the worst commentator/pundit in current employment?

He has some competition (Savage, Sutton, Keown and Townsend come to mind) but for me, he is the clear frontrunner.

My reasoning? As a player, he was … meh. Bang average, less than 350 career appearances, 1 individual award and 1 trophy. A goal ratio of about 1 goal every 10 games, not great for a midfielder. He really didn’t excite me. I know he had injury problems but still.

As a studio pundit, he brings absolutely nothing to the table. He has no charisma, He isn’t funny, he isn’t interesting. He doesn’t offer any value. He is like a nice cup of tea … fine but I’d rather have an espresso martini with a whisky chaser.

As a co-commentator, he is even worse. He offers zero insight, zero analysis, zero research. He is pointless.

His comment about KLyle Walker and Sancho knowing each other’s games from their time at City was a prime example, they were together for six weeks! (much of it pre-season). He got quite a response on social media for that.

Very critical of manager’s systems and tactics despite the fact he hasn’t coached or managed at any level.

But my biggest gripe is his outrageous bias. During the Euros or any Europen club games, he almost never uses names of non-English opponents (mainly because I think he hasn’t bothered to lean them or even learn how to pronounce them).

He also has this excruciating habit of calling certain players by their first names (Trent, Dele, Jaydon, Raheem, a bit of a pattern there?). Almost like he is their mate and his favorites.

In my opinion, commentators are supposed to be unbiased even though we know they aren’t but please please please stop saying “we”.

He is widely unpopular on the various Facebook forums and youtube channels I follow and my view is hardly unique.

However, he ticks a box for the BBC (whatever your stance on diversity is). He isn’t controversial, he is hardly going to say anything to embaress the BBC., a perfect company man. That is why he’ll never lose his BBC gig and it looks like we’ll be stuck with him forever, what a shame.

Let us hope he listens to the feedback and improves, my guess is he won’t.


We’re waiting
With rumours that Miralem Pjanic could be released from his contract at Barcelona and Tottenham reportedly interested, could ‘Pjanic on the streets of London’ finally, FINALLY be happening?
David Horgan, Dublin