Keep your wonderful mails on England and anything else to email@example.com…
For everyone writing in and helpfully pointing out the deficiencies in England’s play, our easy route to the final, our luck in the games we’ve played. I just want to address some of the points raised with well thought through and reasoned arguments…
Critique… England Haven’t been playing expansive, fast-paced all out attack football. Response… Don’t care
Critique… England have had an easy route to the semi’s and haven’t played a truly world class team yet. Response… Don’t care
Critique… England fans are getting too excited and carried away and we will probably lose either the semi or the final. Response… Don’t care
I could go on but I won’t.
I often draw comparisons between Everton and England. Mainly because recently both teams have been a bit shit. Although historically both have always been “up there” with the best, neither has ever been truly elite for a sustained period of time. Watching old England (from 3+ years ago) trying to break down a team playing 2 banks of 4 was painfully similar to watching Everton. So much huff and puff. So much effort. But no spark or creativity. Endless sideways passing and eventual long balls. Probably score off a corner or freekick. Now THAT was boring football. That was until it came to a tournament when we couldn’t seem to string 2 passes together and where we’ve been humiliated too many times to want to remember.
That is our recent heritage. That is what we’ve been watching for the last 20 years. That is what we are comparing England to. And that is why we are all so happy right now. We are not deluded. No one is thinking we are playing amazing attacking football. We are not comparing England to the great world teams of the past. But we are comparing them to the last Euros and its f*cking brilliant. Winning is great. Winning comfortably is even better. We are playing well at a major tournament and have had a bit of luck and that is such a foreign concept to us that we can’t stop smiling. We are breaking down teams we should beat. We are not wearing ourselves out mentally and physically with extra time and pens. We are still a bit sideways but the players are well drilled enough to know where they are running and how to pull well organised teams out of shape. That leads to errors and scoring chances.
The thing is, we don’t need people to tell us that it might not last, every single England fan is prepared for it to end at any moment. When Everton started the season with Anceletti and Rodriguez and we won our first 5 games. It was amazing. The best feeling I’ve had as an Everton fan that I can remember. We were playing well. We were winning. We were scoring for fun. But not one Everton fan was surprised when it all came to a stuttering end. It gave a glimpse of what life could be like if I supported Liverpool or City, and I discovered that winning feels great. It puts a smile on peoples faces. It allows us to dream and to escape. So for right now I’m not thinking about the negatives. That can come in endless retrospection after the tournament. For right now I am just enjoying watching a winning team I can really get behind and be proud of.
Still feels really unusual and barely credible that we have an England team which, for the first time in my adult life, seems professional and genuinely likeable.
For years the egos of club superstars and weak managers somehow made us less than the sum of our parts. This team, with probably less average talent than some of its predecessors, is far more than the sum of its parts. Apparently ego free, the players are doing the jobs they’re supposed to. The way they all behaved when Shaw went off, the way Kane reacted when he came off, all really creditable.
A lot of that is credit to the players, yes, but Southgate has been magnificent (praise be to the papers for nixing Big Sam). No histrionics or silliness, just grown up competence.
It seems like I’ve been transported to a parallel dimension. But I’m proud of the team for the first time.
Home advantage means bugger all
To all these people saying England should win the Euros because they have home advantage: Did home advantage lead to France winning in 2016? Or Portugal in 2004? Or any host since France in 1984? So if England win it this time it doesn’t need anyone dismissing it because they were at home.
And as for only beating mediocre sides, perhaps winning the thing is only meaningful if they beat the World #1 side? Or the previous winners? Or the World Cup holders? Well they all very inconsiderately got knocked out. Face it, if they win, it’s because they managed to do what no other team, great or otherwise, managed to do and that’s avoid getting beat. And that would make them worthy champions, by definition.
Scenes if England take the knee outside Downing Street…
I also worry about politicians stirring up nationalism about the Euros if England win like Ian CFC) Hugo (sp) but am keen to see if they win, or even get to the final, will they get an invite from Downing Street and will they go there and take a knee outside before just going home. I’d love that. There was no (k)need to go all both sides about Keir Starmer though, he’s been well documented as a keen supporter and used to play football and clearly has no current power to get more kids into football as he has no power right now. Yes the Twitter posts are performative but he does actually have form at least (some of it bad, ofc).
Anyway, win or lose this England side at least makes you want the actual players to do well, no matter what others may make them represent.
Calm down, England aren’t even in the final…yet!
Love seeing some of the Mailbox contributions getting their excuses in already for why England and her fans should not be happy about anything ever, least of all winning a football match.
I love how people are already judging this as not a great tournament without great football even before it has ended.
England aren’t even in the final yet and already people are saying that we only got to the semis because everyone they have faced is sub-standard.
Looking at the other semi-finalists Italy have played Belgium and Denmark have played Belgium apart from Denmark all the other teams Spain and Italy have played you would expect them to beat.
This all tells me a few things.
- Lots of people hate England. (quelle suprise)
- People will perform mental gymnastics to avoid having to congratulate people they do not like. “Yeah but..” “You only…” etc.
- Nobody can objectively judge anything. There is always bias.
- IF (that is a big if) England do win the whole thing. England fans will be far to deliriously happy to even think about all the salty tears being shed by those who can’t handle anything nice happening to the English.
For myself, I think even if England get beaten by Denmark this tournament has been a massive success for England and Southgate. Never not looking in control in any of the games they have played, always seeming to have a plan, having a bench full of players who can changed a game (replacing Ince with Batty is a distant memory) and Looking comfortable in possession (This is by far the most amazing thing).
I’m pretty much with Ian (CFC) Hugo when he fears what the little Englanders will be like if we win the Euros. I think back to how much I loved watching England play, and really enjoyed Saturday’s match. But I don’t like wearing my England shirt and wouldn’t put up an England flag because it screams “Nationalist” right now.
On his question about Starmer and Johnson: Starmer is apparently a season ticket holder at Arsenal. As one myself I appreciate that it doesn’t automatically make him a football fan, but I feel confident in saying that Johnson is more likely to wait until he knows who has won the league, and then turning up at that ground, dressed in a new kit and tags still attached.
Steve Owen, Laleham, Surrey
It’s pretty sad when Englishmen like Ian Hugo are ashamed or horrified of other Englishmen and women waving their national flags in support and delight. I mean, we’ve had precious few reasons to, and EVERY OTHER NATION DOES IT WITH NO SHAME.
Why oh why are the English not allowed? Why does us doing it mean shame or embarrassment?
I’ll grant, many of our football fans are tedious and shameful but that’s the same around the world. We don’t go around stabbing people, while racism is still far too common it’s a lot better than many of our European neighbours.
What are we to be ashamed of exactly? Name me a country that didn’t have empires.
Tbh I’m sick of pride in nation, and by contrast any criticism being shut down. You can’t even call it out without being called gammon. Sod off with cancel culture. Sod off with criticism of flag waving and national pride.
We’ve a great chance to win da ting, let’s bloody embrace it and the discussion.
But Martin, it wasn’t a warm up game. Despite what you think it might have “felt like”, it was very much a quarter final, navigated with ease and consummate professionalism.
We have faced better teams (6 of that Germany team would still walk into any other side in the world and the rest are hardly a bunch of cart horses) and we did make it out of the group…
Get the feeling that some people would still be grasping for the “yeah, but” if we do actually manage to win the sodding thing!
There is always one, isn’t there?
Here we go, there was always going to be one, and that one had to be Gary from Oz.
Gary either suffers from bitterness/Anyone But England syndrome, or fails to understand how tournaments work.
Rather than praising England’s exceptional proficiency in front of goal (rank bottom 7 for attempts in the tournament), and excellent defensive shape and effort he had to go with the “only played poor teams”. Does that mean by Gary’s logic that if England win the Euro’s they’ve still failed? England are the highest FIFA ranked nation left in the tournament. If they beat Spain, Italy or Denmark on the way to the tournament, is it considered poor as they are all ranked below England? Did England need to beat Belgium or France to be truly considered worthy champions? How does it work, Gary? You tell us what makes you a real champion? Do we make the Euro’s for only the top ranked teams in Europe? Top 8?
France just got knocked out to Switzerland, Spain were lucky to go through against both Croatia and Switzerland, Italy squeaked through past Austria, Holland were knocked out by the Czechs.
One game away from equalling a tournament record for clean sheets too, but that’s not good enough for Gary.
A near complete performance against Ukraine doesn’t count for Gary, nor does beating a Germany team that included 3 Champions League winners, multiple trophy winners in Gundogan, Sane, Kroos, Neuer, and a plethora of Bundesliga winners. Gary’s mental gymnastics take an interesting turn when he further bemoans England’s draw against Scotland. Yet beating Croatia doesn’t get a mention; but Croatia battered Scotland too – what does it all mean, Gary?
Bet you are fun at parties, Gary.
Mat, Confused, Liverpool
Those poor men in the gutter unable to look to the stars
Wow. Wow wow wow. What drives the celebration police? Imagine being that miserable that you have to try and enforce such puritanical joylessness on people having fun? Imagine being that bitter? Try going for a walk, get some fresh air and learn to enjoy the small moments in life.
Will we win it? Probably not. I think the semi final against Denmark could go either way. They are a very good team and should they beat England I will be fully behind them in the final – what a story it would be. This Italy side is fantastic and to be honest I don’t think England would beat them. Should that come to pass all of those sad, bitter miserablists will be in touch to say “I told you so.” (you’re just taking the easy option there, by the way).
But can we win it? Possibly. And that is exciting. My whole life I have wanted to see England reach the final of a major tournament. England are in the semi-final of a tournament and seem to be growing into it. They have not conceded a goal. The semi is at Wembley in front of 60k people. If you could let us know when we are allowed to start dreaming, to start getting excited it would be appreciated. We have a chance – a real chance, not a guarantee – of doing that on Wednesday. But apparently some people want hope taken out of football as well. Miserable sods. I pity you.
And in response to Bill on an Oil Rig – you are right, every country has suffered… Including England. No one is saying that other countries haven’t suffered are they? Sorry that we are finding this tournament a nice distraction, a positive salve on the wound that has been the past year.
John (Arsenal winning the FA cup vs Hull felt as good as against Chelsea, by the way) Foster, Brighton
Did Guy in Breda actually watch much of Spain in 2010?
They were a great team, and deserved winners of the 2010 World Cup, but to hold them up as a bastion of glorious attacking football is a bit off the money. Five of their seven games ended 1-0 (including a 1-0 defeat to the Swiss), and the other two games ended 2-0 and 2-1.
For my mind, all this goes to show is that people can easily forget how a tournament is won. I’d be delighted if England came up with two more 1-0 wins to win this tournament, regardless of whether it captured “the hearts of those who believe in the glory of the beautiful game” or not.
In reponse to Guy Thomas, Breda and Southgate’s perceived conservatism?
I could point to the 4-0 result. Or question the extremely dubious assumption that if Gareth had only played ALL THE ATTACKERS we’d have thrashed Germany like, um, we just thrashed Ukraine.
But grouping Spain 2010 with the Holland and Brazil sides of the 1970s and 1982? A Spain side that swashbuckled their way to the trophy winning every knockout game 1-0 and scoring only 4 additional goals in the group phase (including a thrilling 2-0 thrashing of Honduras?) Great team, no doubt, but hardly great entertainers.
Max, CPFC (Bienvenue, Patrick!)
Congrats to the editor…
Gotta say that was a superb mailbox, talk about trying to piss on the one bit of excitement England fans have had for a while.
Ian, Lee, Bill, Gary, André, RH you’ve out done yourselves lads. Football is religion and panto, It always has been. The reason why it’s so popular is because it takes people away from the pessimists and the politicians for just a little time. Fans can enjoy, live and feel passion before life drives them back into a shit storm.
Ian, England fans as much right to wave flags feel proud of their nation, they can be as patriotic and fervent as the Scots and Welsh. Don’t worry your pretty head.
But I’ll leave the last comment for RH. Yes English players do feign or exaggerate injury. But Italy has always been held in high esteem as the masters of the arts and the sight Immobile screaming and writhing in pain to sheepishly getting up and running over to celebrate a goal scored while he lay on the ground is incredible shithousery and embarrassing in equal measure.
As for the rest of the tournament 4 sides left who could all equally win it, may the best team win.