Rice and Trippier spark England ‘fears’ and Southgate decides against hilarious Gordon ‘ban’

Editor F365
Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice during a match for England
Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice during a match for England

Declan Rice and Kieran Trippier were put on individual training programmes for a day and that has panicked some unknown people connected to England.

 

Bike drop
Mediawatch quite enjoys playing ‘What will the MailOnline randomly choose to capitalise in their latest unnecessarily long headline?’, and the latest edition is a doozy.

Here it is with the shouting removed:

‘England’s Anthony Gordon is pictured with cuts on his chin and wrist after he fell off his bike on a ride around their camp – but there will be no ban on cycling at Euros’

Couple of options here. ‘Cuts’ maybe? Or ‘chin’. Could go rogue with ‘no ban’. There is always the possibility of not capitalising anything at all but obviously that would be insane.

Instead, the capitalisation is reserved for ‘BIKE’. Is that really worthy of such an honour? Would they have capitalised it if he fell over on a JOG?

It is also quite funny that Ed Carruthers and Mike Keegan have put their investigative qualifications to good enough use to discover that ‘despite Anthony Gordon taking a tumble…there will be no ban on Gareth Southgate’s men should they wish to saddle up again’. Presumably because they are grown adult humans who won’t be prohibited from doing something just because someone mixed their pedals up and got a little ouchy on his chin and knee.

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Sweating zoo
Gordon should be fine to feature in the final five minutes of Sunday’s goalless draw with Slovakia even with those minor scuffs. But England are not without their apparent selection problems heading into Euro 2024’s knockout stages.

‘England double injury fears as Declan Rice and Kieran Trippier train away from squad ahead of Euro 2024 last 16 clash,’ is the headline to a Sun story claiming Gareth Southgate is ‘sweating on the fitness’ of two of his most experienced players.

They were indeed absent from training. But it is unclear how them ‘doing their own individual programmes’ as a common part of managing a squad’s workload is actually a problem, nor where in the England camp the ‘fears’ and ‘sweating’ over their fitness actually emanates from.

 

A case for the defence
Craig Hope is not at all wrong when he says that England’s strength so far has surprisingly enough been their defence. But this paragraph warrants questioning:

‘History suggests tournaments are won by teams with the best defence. Look no further than the last major finals in Germany, when Italy lifted the World Cup in 2006 by conceding just twice, and one of those was a Zinedine Zidane penalty in the final. Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro won a Ballon d’Or on the back of that.’

Quite far to look though, isn’t it? A whole 18 years? The Germany as hosts thing is convenient but also entirely meaningless. So why go all the way back to the 2006 World Cup when discussing the 2024 Euros?

Could easily look as far as the last major tournament, when only Costa Rica and Switzerland conceded more goals than eventual winners Argentina at the 2022 World Cup. Even in per 90 terms, that was a worse record than the United States and Ecuador.

Maybe it makes sense to look as far as the last Euros, when Italy conceded a more than respectable four goals in seven games. The only team who fared better was England, who very specifically did not win that tournament.

Nor did the countries with statistically the best defences in terms of fewest goals conceded per 90 at the 2018 World Cup (Denmark), Euro 2016 (Poland), the 2014 World Cup (Costa Rica) or the 2010 World Cup (Portugal) win those tournaments.

Spain at Euro 2012 and the 2010 World Cup are the only recent exceptions of the team with the best defence actually lifting the trophy. Even at the 2006 World Cup, that miserly Italian backline was outdone by Switzerland being eliminated despite not conceding a single goal.

Spain have also not conceded yet at Euro 2024 either, so ‘history’ is on their side more than England’s.

Besides, didn’t Gareth Southgate ruin his chances this summer anyway by not even picking the perfect England midfielder in his squad?

 

Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s draw
Fair play to Ollie Holt for championing the Daily Mail‘s ‘We’re Backing England!’ campaign, in which he basically blames their poor performances thus far on players being inhibited because Gary Lineker said a naughty word when otherwise entirely constructively criticising them recently.

Holt lists all the reasons for England to be positive, rather impressively sidestepping the elephant in the room: that ‘lucky’ knockout draw.

‘Some are so eager to damn Southgate that they are already rolling their eyes and saying that if England do progress, it is only because England have got a lucky draw because Spain, Germany, Portugal and France are in the other half.’

‘Some’ people are because ‘some’ people are always silly. Everyone else is simply acknowledging that one half of the draw is much more favourable than the other, and England have managed to land themselves in it not entirely of their own doing.

‘Many would argue that England would actually be better suited to playing the Netherlands in the Round of 16 than Slovakia but let us put that aside for a moment. If you think England have a lucky draw, it is because England made their own luck. They won their group. They fulfilled their first assignment. France did not.’

That’s sort of fair enough; England ‘made their own luck’ insofar as they won their group and then watched a series of results go their way, including Georgia beating Portugal, to hand them an ostensibly easier route. Still makes it a ‘lucky’ draw in the context of what they could have had.

Also, ‘the group stage of a major football tournament is the equivalent of pre-season training’ is an absolute nonsense of a first paragraph for obvious reasons. It’s far more ‘patronising’ than suggesting England might prefer to play Slovakia instead of France.

Also also, Jude Belingham still didn’t play ‘like Superman in the first game against Serbia’.

 

Hey, Jude
Newspapers often seem caught off guard by the idea that footballers might simply just be humans good at kicking a bag of air around a pitch. Which brings us to The Sun‘s coverage of Bellingham declaring an unheralded Elvis Presley song as his personal favourite:

”Love Me’ was released in 1956, not far short of half a century before 20-year-old Bellingham was born,’ writes Tom Barclay, who has never listened to music or watched media predating his birth.

‘It is one of the King’s lesser-known tracks, not to be confused with smash-hit Love Me Tender.

‘But do not be surprised if the song’s UK downloads go through the roof after the prince of this Three Lions squad singled it out.’

Except it would be quite surprising if a song’s UK downloads went ‘through the roof’ because a footballer said in passing that he quite likes it.

 

Exclusive of the day
‘England’s star-studded squad worth eight times more than Euro 2024 rivals Slovakia’ – Daily Mirror.

Next: How Spain’s players have a slightly higher value than Georgia’s.