England on brink of ‘failure’ after being given ‘free ride’

Editor F365
Harry Kane

If England lose to a decent team with some excellent players in a knockout game then they are real failures. Oh and something about the war.


Self-parody of the day

As utterly dreadful as that back page from the Daily Star is, a headline of ‘OBSESSED’ underneath a reference to ‘spies’ and a war that ended 76 years ago is accidentally sensational.


Failure is not an option
Mediawatch agrees that losing in the round of 16 to Germany on Tuesday would be of grave disappointment to England. They have started Euro 2020 well and there is no reason to fear a team that scraped through to this stage by virtue of a late goal against Hungary.

But Ian Ladyman goes much, much further in the Daily Mail:

‘What Gareth Southgate’s side must carry with them is a different kind of pressure, one made up of responsibility and expectation. Because if they lose this knockout tie against Germany, their Euro 2020 campaign will have been a failure.’

That seems a little drastic. Germany are a decent team with some truly excellent players. They will be trying to win this game too. They hammered a Portugal side that Belgium edged past on Sunday. It feels a bit ‘harsh’ to say that not beating that Germany team represents an actual ‘failure’.

Not least when you consider this was Ladyman’s take on the eve of the tournament, writing on June 10:

‘This is not an England side that currently feels ready to progress deep in to the tournament.’

But it apparently is an England side for whom not progressing deep into the tournament would be ‘failure’.


Wooden it be nice
In that previous Daily Mail article published on the eve of the tournament, Ladyman added:

‘Teams who progress to the latter stages of this tournament will do so on the back of defensive security first and foremost. It has always been the way.’

By June 28, 18 days later, he bemoans a set of ‘pretty wooden’ performances ‘against modest opposition’ – one of whom it probably should be pointed out have reached the quarter-finals by beating the highest-scoring team from the group stage to nil.

But back to England, whose ‘results have been good enough but their football has been short of imagination’.

So ‘defensive security’ is of the utmost importance; ‘it has always been the way’ in international tournaments. But when you keep three consecutive clean sheets that is actually ‘pretty wooden’ and more ‘imagination’ is needed.

It is a masterclass in covering all bases to ensure England have been ‘failures’ either way.


Ride and seek
To complete the hat-trick, Ladyman goes on to tell us that:

‘Southgate’s players have had a pretty free ride from the media and public so far and that is OK. They won their group, after all.’

1) Try not to sound so annoyed about that.

2) Did you lose consciousness for a couple of days after the Scotland draw?

3) Bukayo Saka was scoffed at when the starting line-up was announced for the Czech Republic win and plenty have suggested Harry Kane should be dropped.

4) Look at how much of a free ride those players have had.

Aside from that, spot on. What a ‘free ride’ unbeaten England have had after not conceding a single goal so far.

Gareth Southgate and Graeme Jones


Witness the fitness
One last bit on Ladyman now, who describes Southgate’s recent point about some players being “a little bit short in a few areas of match fitness and sharpness” as ‘difficult to understand’.

‘The Premier League season only finished three weeks before England’s first game, and seven of the England squad featured a week later in the Champions League final. That should not be long enough for anyone to physically go off the boil.

‘A more simple explanation is that some players have been found wanting a little for real form, confidence or tournament experience. It happens.’

Perhaps a three-week break after the most uniquely congested season in modern domestic, European and international football history is not premium preparation in terms of match fitness and sharpness. And maybe those seven players that featured a week later in the Champions League missing most of the build-up for England as a result was not particularly ideal.

But no, those same Champions League finalists are just struggling for ‘form’, ‘confidence’ and ‘experience’. The 11 members of this 26-man squad that reached the World Cup semi-final three years ago are simply overawed by an international tournament.

Thank the lord Ladyman is here to explain things that are so ‘difficult to understand’ for us fools.


High-speed chase
Andy Dillon was on match report duty for The Sun in Budapest but even he, as a member of the esteemed media, fancied giving England a ‘free ride’ when they were not playing:

‘Without seriously troubling Tomas Vaclik in the Czech goal, a Holland team that has been lambasted for being too negative chased every ball, pressed high and treated us to the kind of high-speed football that England rarely seem to offer at the moment.’

The country can only pray that England can ‘treat us to the kind of high-speed football’ that left Netherlands eliminated by a team that boring England have already beaten.


Ref off
Elsewhere in the same match report, Dillon writes:

‘Barely a minute later, though, came the key moment in the game as Holland centre-back De Ligt was sent off for deliberate handball following a lengthy VAR check. It was as if English referee Stuart Attwell was at the controls!’

It was also as if he implemented the rules completely correctly despite being an English referee!


Day Trip
‘Kieran Trippier admitted England have spent hours working on set-pieces in the hope of unleashing them on Germany’ – Duncan Wright, The Sun.

Unlike every other team, who just ignore free-kicks and corners before winging them on the day.




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