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Predicting the 2020 team
First of all, I’m not English or even British, I’m from Iceland. I was rooting for England after we were knocked out and I am gutted by the result last night. However, I think there is so much room for improvement in this England side and with the avarage age being so low many of the current XI that started against Croatia will be in their prime in the next 2-4 years. I for one cannot wait to see this England side in about 2 years time. The formation is Southgates untouchable 3-5-2 with:
Walker Stones Maguire
Trippier/TAA RLC Winks Dier/Hendo Rose/Sessegnon
This side has a formidable central defence that have developed understanding between each other after playing together for a while. It has wing-backs that are good on the offense as well as being defensively sound (maybe minus Sessaegnon), it has a balanced midfield where everyone is able to create something (personally I think Winks will be massive in 2 years time while RLC should also continue his development) and Hendo/Dier provide the solid(ish) base.
I for one loved Sterlings movement this WC but I could also see how Alli and Kane might work better with Alli playing as a shadow striker. If Southgate continues, and this positive great atmosphere a surrounding the national team doesn’t sour, I could see England going at least again the the Semis in 2 years, maybe even further. The future for England really is bright!
Sibbi, The Icelandic-Spur.
The final and semi-finals of Euro 2020 will be held at Wembley, as are some earlier rounds. Here’s a list of outfield players who are under 25 or younger and so should improve by the next tournament:
Kane 24, Alli 22, Rashford 20, Sterling 23, Lingard 25, Alexander-Arnold 19, Loftus Cheek 22, Maguire 25, Stones 24, Dier 24.
Those who are 26 / 27 / 28 and so shouldn’t get worse: Henderson 28, Trippier 27, Welbeck 27, Walker 28, Rose 28, Jones 26, Delph 28.
The only players who are old enough to get worse or retire are Vardy 31, Young 33, Cahill 32.
The squad will be further supplemented by players who aren’t currently ready, such as perhaps Angel Gomes from Man Utd who is apparently an exciting prospect.
There’s plenty of reasons to be hopeful that football could decide to move back home after its brief visit for the finals in a couple of years.
Matt – MUFC ( After the tournament is over I’ll be glad to see the back of people who don’t normally go to pubs and so don’t know how to queue. Until Christmas at least. )
With all the talk of a lack of midfield, I was left wondering what a difference Harry Winks would have made if fit. He didn’t have a problem with Modric against Madrid.
We need Jack. Not that one
I’ve been interested in seeing analysis of England from overseas, such as by 538 and others. One thing they pointed out is about England style, and how it has come about because we don’t have a top class creative midfielder. That’s forced our one indisputably ‘World Class’ player in his position (Harry Kane) to work outside his comfort zone and try to dictate play more by dropping deep. If we can find that player who can unlock a defence, then England could well be a force to be reckoned with in 2020 and beyond.
I’m biased as hell, but I’m calling it now: Jack Grealish. His control and vision are immense, and he has the potential to play that role to perfection.
Might make the team less likeable though.
Villa fan in London
“If you still don’t understand what he does, he is not the problem” asserts Matt Stead in the player ratings for last night’s game. Nothing like patronising your audience eh, Matt? Coz obviously we haven’t got a clue, whereas Pep and Gareth think he’s great and accordingly, so do you.
But here’s the thing: Sterling’s sole value to the England team, as deployed by Southgate, was to use his undoubted pace to run into channels, spreading alarm and despondency amongst the opposition defence. Well that’s the theory at least. This tactic was entirely undone when Sterling, once on the ball, squandered possession and/or clear goal-scoring advantage – ad nauseum throughout the tournament- with the kind of decision making you’d expect from a remedial 5-year old – to the extent that Kane squandered a second attempt on goal last night from an angle of all of 5 degrees rather than pass square to Sterling.
Multiple times during this World Cup, we’ve heard commentators and/or pundits wincing that “it’s not quite working for Raheem”. They were right, and it should have been dealt with instead of being indulged. Your continued allegiance to Sterling has been entirely misplaced.
If you’re going to criticise, provide an alternative.
First is first, bloody well done Gareth and England. A great tournament, you can be proud. I don’t think enough was made of how fantastic Stones has been (with an obvious, momentary exception).
Matt Pitt digs in again on Raheem. Yes F365 might be slightly guilty of pro-Sterling narative (God I’m said I can even phrase that). But fair enough, a counter point to the S*n is warranted.
But here’s a simple point for the yes-he’s-not-all-bad-but-whatabout… crowd: What’s your alternative?
Yes sterling is not a great finisher. This is not so much about his technical finishing ability but his decision making when ‘finishing’ any dribble, be it with shot or pass. He makes some incredibly intelligent runs and sees space well, but seems almost reticent to commit to a decision when using the ball.
But that being said who comes in for him? Oh what? You just wanted to dig him out? I assumed by constantly pointing out his deficiencies you were going to suggest an alternative? No? I mean did England look better with Rashford or Vardy on the pitch?
Harry Kane lacks straight line pace and agility, should I criticise? No. Because he’s the best in that postion currently. So is Sterling.
It does feel different
I woke up today as many others did – bleary eyed and with a feeling of sadness. Sadness at what might have been, the mistakes we made and a lot of ‘what-ifs?’.
The result itself I think was probably fair. We looked imperious in the first half, much the better team. If we’d taken another chance and made it 2-0 I think we would have held on. Croatia were much better than us in the second half and in extra time, and I think we were guilty of underestimating them. The team can be incredibly proud of themselves, but I think Southgate made a number of errors last night:
1. Not making an earlier sub – we all knew the team wouldn’t change, and there was no reason to. But Alli and Lingard were blowing after 60 minutes, everyone in our pub could see. Their inexperience showed up against Modric and Rakitic, and by extra time nothing was sticking to their feet and they couldn’t keep possession. I think RLC or Delph (or even both) should have come on to regain control in midfield.
2. Taking Sterling off – England looked incredibly toothless after he came off. Yes, his finishing is suspect but he allowed us to stretch the game up the pitch, won some key fouls/throws and had he been next to a fully-fit Kane, would have caused even more panic than he did. Rashford looked out of his depth coming on. Similarly to Lingard and Alli nothing was sticking to him and in those clutch moments when you need to relieve a bit of pressure on the defence after a barrage of crosses, Rash looked a bit like a lost little boy. This was never going to be his tournament though, and I think we’ll see him more at the Euros.
3. Persisting with Kane – Injured or Tired? Either way he was a passenger from 60 minutes onwards and should probably have come off for Vardy (Di he even touch the ball?). In the rare times we got forward, there was nobody in the box. Kane will probably win the Golden Boot, but in the 240 minutes since Columbia he was a shadow of the player in the group stages.
4. Taking Hendo off – Southgate made that call in the Columbia game and it bit him in the arse. Why make the same mistake again? Neither play is technically very gifted, but at least Henderson can play on the front foot and keep the ball. Dier is the David Batty in this England team – in theory useful, but in actuality – useless.
Despite all this, I also have hope. This is a young team, and we’re building towards the next two tournaments. The majority of that team (Pickford, Stones, Maguire, Alli, Sterling, Kane, TAA, Rashford) will probably be starting the Euros in 2020, if not the World Cup in 2022. I’m really interested to see James Maddison for Leicester this year, because it’s only a matter of time until he’s in the squad.
So don’t worry everyone, it’s okay to be sad. But for the last 20-odd years these post-tournament feelings have been those of anger. There’s a big difference, and I’m happy because of it.
Lee (when does the season start?), LFC
Thoughts from the Luzhniki
I was at the Luzhniki Stadium last night. I came home feeling annoyed that both the semifinals had been decided by a tactical inelegance and naivety. I know that there will be a lot of positives about this team and the media will rightfully put their metaphorical arm around the shoulders of a brave team that has over-delivered. But I’m quite sure that teams that actually win world cups don’t take semifinal exits without a thorough and objective evaluation of the causes, and in that spirit, here’s what I saw.
The 2 big questions going into the game were (1) how tired would Croatia be and could England take advantage and (2) England have wide players, a DM and attacking midfielders, but not a central midfielder – in other words the midfield is like a circle without a centre. Croatia have that perfect centre in Modric and Rakitic. How would this play out?
The game started well for England – for the first 15 minutes, they were strong, played on the front foot, passed well and when they scored, it felt like it was already coming and Croatia were there for the taking.
As soon as the goal went in though, a switch went off for England. My mates and I could see immediately that England perceptibly dropped the pace of the game, took time over every pass and goal kick. They were never really able to recover the pace after this. Slowing the game down also played straight into Croatia’s hands. I doubt that they could have managed a fast paced 90 minutes game.
The lack of a midfield was also quite apparent. Playing all three of Stirling, Lindgard and Ali, meant that there was an abdication of the midfield. Jordan Henderson is not a pass and move player. He falls quickly into a quarterback role, hitting longer balls. Over time Croatia took complete command of the midfield which pushed England to play even more long balls.
On a good day, Harry Kane wins a majority of headers and Ali, Stirling or Lindgard run onto those. Yesterday was not a good day, and as Kane didn’t win too many of his areal duels he dropped deeper and then all those long balls just fell nicely to the feet of the Croatian defenders. England were barely able to string a set of passes throughout the second half.
On the specific players – Ali had a poor game and was ineffective in both attack and defence. A number of times in the game you can see him in no-mans land, marking nobody as Croatia come forward. If Stirling’s value is that he makes runs and works hard, I hope to heaven that somewhere in England there is a player who can make those runs as well as know what to do when the ball comes to him. Stirling has had to endure a lot and is a much better player than he has been for England in this World Cup but he probably needs a break, rather than be consistently battered and in the front line. Henderson was kicking long balls to nobody in particular even 20 mins into the game, and Stones made one very expensive mistake late in the game. Rashford and Lingard were well intentioned but also toothless. Maguire and Trippier were England’s best players.
Bottom line, England lost this game as much as Croatia won it. Southgate should have seen what all of us saw and fixed the midfield. Delph, Loftus-Cheek or Dier should have come on for one of the attacking midfielders early in the second half.
The goal from Trippier deserves mention – as they lined up, from the other end of the stadium, it became apparent to us that Subasic stands a little to one side, and if Trippier could get the ball in the top right corner, it would be beyond reach. It was a beautiful – no – perfect free kick and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side!
Finally, a few words on Croatia. Modric is the rightful heir to the Iniesta throne. He’s immense. He’s always there to receive the ball and always finds a team mate. This is the simplest and most difficult thing to do in football, it seems. The Croatia team must have been dead on their feet but they were the ones running faster, pushing harder, tackling more ferociously. Their 22 shots to England’s 11 tells it’s own story. Thanks to a quirk of our ticketing we saw the Croatia Russia game and last nights game and will be there at the final. On balance, I think we are fortunate to be witnessing one of the smallest countries in the footballing world deliver so heroically on such as large stage.
We’ve all been saying that France will maul whoever gets to the final from the other side. Now with Croatia’s ability and attitude, I’m a little less sure!
Ved (Modric is my new god) Sen.
Agreeing with Keano
Having witnessed the Keane vs Wright argument post match on ITV and then seen the vitriolic response from some of the press to Keane’s behaviour I wondered if I was the only one who found myself agreeing with him?
I’m no fan of his, but Keane’s point that England support/press had the victory parade planned before the semi and it was ridiculous was correct. I’ve found myself cringing about 50 times a day in the last week every time i heard the magic 3 words “it’s coming home”. I know it started as an ironic joke but by the time the game started I found I was half hoping we lost just to stop it. It was just embarrassing.
How on earth you could accurately believe that it was in any way coming home when we had played a few pub teams and Sven’s less talented love children is beyond me. We were always going to struggle against decent opposition as we are just a few good players short.
In 1990 we had a much stronger team and couldn’t get it anywhere near home. In 1996 we had arguably an even better team, beat Holland and Spain and were in fact already home – and we still couldn’t get it home. Bearing in mind the deficiencies of this team – it was never coming home.
Also, it shows how inept ITV are at covering football that they decided to go with Keane as their first pundit on the panel. He is not exactly going to get the flags out and give you positivity is he – although on this occasion his dose of reality was perhaps needed.
While it was sad and disappointing to go out last night I think the team has done awfully well. Even if they got an easy(ish) route the main thing that is different is the positive and optimistic vibes that was going round. This is in large part due to the young, likeable team and their manager. I think Southgate has done well to foster a spirit and identity but, as others have pointed out, the in game management and in particular the subs could do with some work…. So I have gone through all of them and given them a score out of 3 (lions).
Rashford for Sterling ’68 – The score is 1-1 and you are looking to add some fresh ideas going forward. Rashford has done well in the friendlies before seems like a good idea. Doesn’t really change anything but worth a go. 2/3 lions.
Loftus-Cheek for Alli ’80 – I think he did pretty well coming in for the injured Dej but that might just be because Dej was hobbling around a bit beforehand. Give him 2/3 Lions again.
Lingard for Dier ’93 – Running the clock down after a later goal so not really a tactical switch but but was the right thing to do 3/3 Lions.
Lingard for Delph ’63 – We are 6 up so rest some of our key players can’t really argue with that 3/3 Lions
Kane for Vardy ’63 – Same as above – 3/3 Lions
Trippier for Rose ’93 – Another time waster as far as I can remember a bit pointless given the score line 1.5/3 Lions
I still can’t work out if we were actually trying to win this game so I haven’t bothered rating it. If the aim was to lose then definitely 3 Lions for bringing on Welbiño.
Alli for Dier ’81 – I didn’t like this one at all. It told the team to shore things up for 1-0 which obviously didn’t happen. Also it left things a bit inflexible when they did score. Changed the game but definitely against us (even if he did score the winning pen). 0/3 Lions
Sterling for Vardy ’88 – another one where it sort of makes sense when you are winning but doesn’t when you concede and have to play extra time with a pair up top that don’t really gel. 1/3 Lions
Young for Rose ‘102 – Makes perfect sense taking off the old Young. 3/3 Lions
Walker for Rashford ‘113 – Did he end up playing right wing back? That’s weird. Maybe it was just for pens I was quite boozed at this point so let’s say 1.5/3 lions
Alli for Delph ’77 – 2 up and cruising take off the guy with the knock, obviously – 3/3 Lions.
Henderson for Dier ’85 – Give Dier a bit more game time and make sure Henderson doesn’t get the booking + suspension good ideas all over – 3/3 Lions
Sterling for Rashford ’91 – I think it was another time waster one at 2-0 you might as well 2/3 Lions
Sterling for Rashford ’74 – I was expecting the first sub to be in midfield and before they scored. Maybe bring on someone like RLC or Dier for Dej who looked knackered. Going forward this seemed to blunt us but that might just be because Croatia were a different team at this point. I think I’m going for a 1/3 Lions
Young for Rose 90’ – Sure take of the old man again. 3/3 Lions
Henderson for Dier ’97 – It felt like we needed to just play it out for penalties all though extra time. So maybe Dej should have come off here he looked knackered. 1/3 Lions
Walker for Vardy ‘112 – Chasing the game it was either him or welbz. 3/3 Lions.
Looking back over these I think the theme is that Southgate does very well in the type of sub where he is maintaining the squad for future games, running the clock down etc. He also makes relatively sensible changes when we are chasing the game but when we are holding on there is a definite need to up his game. The subs in the knock out game particularly Colombia didn’t really take account of the extra time that could happen.
Also the subs in the knockout games happened quite late which showed that we were not blessed with depth or maybe that we were unwilling to take hold of certain situations.
All in all I think there are so many positives that Southgate has to be the man leading England for the next tournament but he could do with working on the subs aspect in the meantiume.
Regarding Rashford’s introduction for Sterling I have to say that it was possibly one of the worst substitutions I’ve ever witnessed. On paper it makes perfect sense however we do not play on paper.
Rashford should have been the most electric man on the pitch. Fresh legs with pace, directness and pressing high up when we didn’t have the ball. All I saw was Sterling who was doing the above get taken off for Rashford who looked like he was playing in a training match.
He looked way too casual on the ball happy to dribble in the wrong direction and tippy tap around. And then without the ball I didn’t see him press once. And then to stand over the free kick and hit a straight, floated and easy to defend ball aimlessly towards the goal was baffling beyond belief. AND…..to repeat the exact same thing in the last minute!