Mails: Not fooled by Rashford or England…

Date published: Friday 8th June 2018 1:38

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Not taken in
I cannot but agree with the views that the rating of England’s performances & potential based on the two recent friendlies is going slightly over the top.

Firstly, Southgate seems a very likable chap, but he is not remotely near the top echelon of coaches, as his time as U21 manager showed (although to be fair he wasn’t the first Englishman to fail at that level’s finals despite having on paper the strongest squad).

England are about to face Tunisia & Panama in their first two games, for a top nation this would leave the Belgium game as a free hit. Panama represent quite possibly the weakest opponent (Kuwait in ’82 maybe) England will have faced at a World Cup since the humiliation to the USA in 1950. What I therefore find odd, given that England do have dynamic, young attacking talent, is Southgate’s desire to set up with a formation that crams in an extra centre back – especially strange as not one of them is world class. You could argue that for all that attacking talent they never seem truly fluid and often decent combinations and decision making in the final third are sadly lacking (I think many must have imagined how many clear chances were created in those two friendlies). However, to me this smacks of a coach who knows he doesn’t have the acumen to instill this, so falls back on the conservative option. Which given the level of opponent in the first two games seems a shame…..look back through England’s World Cup history, they’ve never doled out a walloping to a minnow / weakest side in the group, and don’t expect that to change this time.

The only possible benefit I can see of this formation / tactical approach is if England were to get through to the quarters (though one of Colombia, Poland or Senegal will not be terrified of taking a shoeing from England and will happily engage in a tight, nervy affair) then this approach might best prepare them for the anticipated pairing against either Brazil or Germany. As, for all that they have superior squads and better coaches than us, these matches are often tight affairs settled by goals at set pieces (think both of those nation’s quarter-final wins 4 years ago, Puyol nodding the only goal for Spain v Germany in the 2010 semi), if indeed there are any goals.

Make no mistake, should England get to the semi-final having bested by whatever method, style or circumstance Brazil or Germany, it will represent the national team’s greatest ever result in a finals knock-out match on foreign soil, and even the harshest critic could not knock that. Having said that I’m far from convinced in England’s ability to get there or be able to match those countries confidence and mental strength should they face them.



…I like Rashford as a player, but the reaction to his performance was ridiculous. The pre-world cup good vibes will quickly turn into ‘Southgate’s a moron for not playing Rashford/ bringing him on as soon as we go a goal down’. The pundits will continue going mad every time Rashford takes it round someone on the half way line. The pressure to play Rashford will build on Southgate at every press conference.

Last night, Rashford created no chances, made no key passes, took one (great) shot from 25 yards. He did fine, he’s a young player and he’s getting better. But taking it round someone does not equate with doing something useful. Until Rashford can consistently follow running with the ball up with a good pass/ good shot, he should not start for England. See also Ross Barkley.

This season, Sterling’s got 23 goals, 12 assists, 1.5 key passes per game. His decision making has improved no end. At the moment, he’s the better choice. And we all need to be nicer to Dele Alli… what an assist!

Jonathan AFC


England expectation
I’ve not mailed in a while but I thought with the World Cup less than 160 hours away (I’m not counting… honest!) I would look back at how well (or badly) we have performed at previous tournaments versus the physical expectation (based on rankings) and personal expectation driven by media hype….

1994 – Ranked 15 – Did Not Qualify
1996 – Ranked 24 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Group Stage* – Result = Semifinals (* we did have home advantage)
1998 – Ranked 5 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Quarterfinals – Result = Last 16
2000 – Ranked 12 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Group Stage
2002 – Ranked 12 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Quarterfinals
2004 – Ranked 13 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Quarterfinals
2006 – Ranked 10 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Quarterfinals
2008 – Ranked 9 – Did Not Qualify
2010 – Ranked 6 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Quarterfinals – Result = Last 16
2012 – Ranked 10 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Quarterfinals
2014 – Ranked 10 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Group Stage
2016 – Ranked 11 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Last 16

Looking at that we were obviously disappointed in ’94 and ’08 but the only real stand out failures
were ’00 and ’14 – the rest of the results were either a slight over achievement (by one round) or slight under achievement (by 1 round) but more or less about what was expected, except those head summer days of 1996.

Looking to the coming tournament we are currently ranked 12th and so a last 16 appearance is par – with a realistic chance of a quarterfinal appearance.

Given last nights performance, providing we don’t have a Phil Neville Euro 2000 moment I think its fair to say we should live up to expectation

Good luck boys!
Ben B – Manchester (What are the odds on losing on penalties?)


And so it goes on
And so it is, as always with the English media.
Step 1) England are terrible
Step 2) Stir sh1t with the players and report on ridiculous/slanderous stories
Step 3) Watch a few warm up games and here come the 3 Lions. They’re going to win. They’re the best team in the world. Young guns, new golden generation, spirit of 66.

The other steps are equally cyclical but haven’t happened yet, but will during the tournament.

Step 4) Question the coach after a weird decision that turns out to be a master stroke/luck
Step 5) Assassination of the scape goat in the press.

We’ve all been here before. The more things change, the more they stay the same
Seán Culkeen


England winning over the Welsh
So let me say this first, I don’t hate the English. I live here and individually you’re often lovely, but en masse, when football is involved… well.

As a Welshman with an English mother I’ve always had a passing curiosity with the English national side. As a kid I would even support them at national tournaments, but then I grew up and the tedious cycle of news started to get to me, the constantly over-hyped train of ‘this will be our year’ nonsense became… painful.

I started to look at England fans in the same way that I look at Liverpool fans, or more recently, Man Utd fans. With your grating sense of entitlement towards a sport that, to be charitable, it’s been a while since you achieved anything of note.

I’ve got a mate who once received a handjob in a club, classy sort of guy. But I’ve heard him tell that story loads, boasting, as a means to promoting his prowess. This was all well and good when we were 18 but now it’s all a bit ‘Steve, you’re 34 and you’ve never had a long-term girlfriend’

That’s how I think of you.

But…… I like this English side. There’s a humbleness to it, I don’t know if that’s down to Pearce, the young players, the fact that you have relatively few world-beaters or that Joe Hart is no longer involved but you’ve gone and made yourselves actually bloody likeable.

What I’m saying, guys, is that if you promise not to bang on about it for another 52 years I might not begrudge you winning this one.
Geraint, SCFC


Reuben’s not ready yet
So I’m in a whatsapp group with 2 of my closest chelsea-supporting childhood friends. Yesterday one of them said we should take yaya for £1/week and while that is a financial no-brainer I said no because he plays in Loftus-Cheek’s position, and he was ready.
Now I would consider myself an optimistic fan but my 2 friends consider me naive (they cite the 23 times I thought Torres was ‘back’). They said RLC needed another year on loan and I said we’d probably lose him then. The thing is they may be right, he’s not ready – sadly there’s something slightly wrong with him, and his back injuries have probably played a part. He thrills with the majestic drives and then frustrates by labouring around. Ridiculous talent but without the ability to press and harry, at least for an extended time. To the people saying he’s young and will grow past this I hope you’re right, but he has frustrated many a Chelsea manager – he was meant to be the next big thing from the academy way before Ake, Christensen and Chalobah. I don’t like poopooing excitement because it’s what my 2 friends often do to me but I’d be wary of jumping all aboard the RLC train, his back can’t quite handle it yet.
Saaj (that won’t stop me from clamouring for him to start every game though) CFC


In it to win it
Can someone explain to me what an English player is supposed to say when an interviewer asks them are they going to Russia to win the tournament?I know post tournament if England play poorly people will collectively guffaw at recollecting players saying they are going there to win it but what is wrong with being positive pre tournament?Should they say they are going there for the vodka or to discuss possible Russian collusion in Trumps presidential campaign?.

The Irish team went to the 2002 world cup & a week before their first game went on the lash with the media in Saipan & ended up losing their talisman…(long story,won’t bore you with it)that is how not to prepare for a world cup.What is wrong with going there to try & win it?As Roy Keane pointed out,there was nothing between the Irish & German teams in the group stages yet we went home early & Germany got to the final as Germany went there to win it.Ireland went to a pre world cup training camp with no footballs & trained on a rock hard pitch in between drinking sessions.

Am not saying England will win it but this time last year people laughed when Liverpool paid 35m for a Chelsea reject & no one thought Liverpool would get to the CL final.My money is on Sterling scoring the winner in the world cup final with the ball going in after it ricochets in off his tattoo…wouldn’t that be something for the media to write about!!


Rights issue
To answer John Matrix AFC’s question: things did not get better for you as a consumer, and that was never the intention. I take my hat off to the league’s marketing folks who have managed to frame this discussion in terms of competition and choice. It is pretty obvious that neither applies on the consumer side as long as the packages have no overlap.

At the end of the day, TV deals are paid for by subscribers. The current round of auctions includes more games but has generated less revenue than the previous, indicating that total subscription prices are likely to remain stable or even fall (one can dream…). The only way to get the cost of football back down is to not subscribe, or at least not to everything, so that the next rights auction will be less successful still.
Daniel, AFC


Goodison pedantry
I couldn’t help but smile when reading Fat Man Scouse’s summary of being an Everton Supporter as ‘polemic’.

For clarification, the definition of polemic is:

“a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something.”

It might help Everton’s cause next season if they and their fans focus on improving the football, rather than shouting and / or writing invective to each other and the opposition. Just a thought…
Ed the Grouch (and pedant).



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