It’s coming home: The Mailbox
Keep your wonderful mails on England and anything else to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s coming home
Haven’t written in to F365 in about a decade but I’m a few beers in and I buried my father today and I know he would have loved to have seen this England side. It’s coming home, lads. It well and truly is.
Just watched England vs Ukraine and thought it was England’s most complete performance in a tournament for a long while. No signs of arrogance or nerves, just a determination to get the job done, seeing off the danger and team spirit of Ukraine, especially in the first half. Those early goals in both halves were crucial.
It was particularly pleasing in the way that the players are slaying their individual mini-dragons too. I would not have been starting with Sterling, and he seemed out of form with his general touches, but you cannot argue with his defensive contribution nor his attacking output in the moments that matter. I have never been so pleased to be thoroughly proven wrong. Shaw too, with his attacking play, and crucial set piece to shush Jose. Kane, starting to hit his straps. Rice and Phillips avoiding the yellow card. Henderson and Maguire getting overdue England goals and playing despite their respective injury concerns. Don’t know what to make of Walker, I think he’s been poor generally, but was brilliant against Germany.
I don’t buy into any “Southgate knows” nonsense, but he is managing the team well. I thought picking Sancho for this game was particularly astute. If we’d lost, the clamourers would have been shut up. If we win then it provides a good further bedding in of options.
Denmark will be a very interesting game and whilst I would have us as slight favorites, they have been a revelation this tournament, so will be no pushovers. Not even mentioning the other half of the draw, that will take care of itself if we can overcome the Danes.
We have options, we have confidence and we have hope.
Collin (0 minutes added time, WTF) Hack
What the hell was that? England playing in quarter finals doesn’t go that way! Epic draws followed by devastating failures in penalty shoot outs is more our style. But this was a comfortable, controlled, mature performance by a side visibly growing in confidence and quality by the game.
Kane reminded everyone – yet again- that form is temporary and class is permanent. Like Lineker, like Shearer. The big players produce big performances in the big games. If he knocked £50 million off his price in the group stages he’s put it back on and then some now. And he’s hitting form and confidence at *exactly* the perfect time.
The defence is rock solid and hasn’t conceded anything – all great, but my goodness, Maguire is such a presence back there. And watching him blast through Ukraine’s players to score was a joy.
Henderson scoring was a miracle and Sancho showed exactly why everyone rates him so highly. An awful lot of players have done their reputations no harm at all this tournaments. Sterling more than anyone.
Only the King of Lunatics on a particularly insane day should be looking past Denmark. The emotional narrative is behind them and aside from that, they’re actually pretty good. Our recent record isn’t that clever against them. But with a massive crowd and a nation needing joy more than ever after the pandemic behind them – no one would exactly be rushing to face England either.
There surely must be a moment where people stop questioning Southgate. Semis in the World Cup, the Nations League and now the Euros. Plenty of teams out there with world class players and big reputations have done considerably less. Shame he ditched the waistcoats though, I liked those. Win two more games though and he’ll never hear about ‘96 again.
It’s an extraordinarily exciting time and honestly couldn’t come when the nation needed it more. Nothing unifies us like an England team having a successful run in a major tournament.
Gareth’s beginning to get us used to it.
I challenge anyone to find a fault in Gareth, his team selection, Sterling, Sancho, Harry Kane or anything else tonight after that performance and result.
Anyone with anything to prove fully silenced their critics tonight. A dominant, controlled, confident and composed game – that is the best we have probably looked for years. Yes Ukraine aren’t the strongest team but you can only beat what is in front of you.
Beat Denmark, and we are steamrolling into the final, fearless and full of beans.
Whisper it quietly, but it might be coming home.
Lee (delighted for Hendo), LFC
I watched this game in a fanzone tonight.
I cannot tell you who played well, who played badly, who assisted or what happened at any given minute.
What I can tell you, is that Kane scored 2, Maguire scored 1 and Henderson scored 1.
And that, after such a hard year, that is all that matters. I may not have had the state of mind to fully comprehend the tactics or analysis of the game. But we scored 4 and won and I genuinely believe, more than ever, that it’s coming home.
4-0…are you not entertained?!?
Lee AFC Bristol
Do you mind forwarding this on to Luke Shaw just on the off chance you have his details?
Thank you for your timing, precision and discipline. You were an absolute delight tonight and if I wasn’t in already in a relationship, and could get anywhere near the England squad, and it wasn’t ‘Rona times, I’d give you a big old snog.
Thanks mate. Keep it up. You’re the bollocks for overcoming such a terrible injury and performing like this.
Jack, 27, London (and now for several more beers ‘cos fuck it, consecutive semis)
People will no doubt offer far more incise tactical analysis than I will, but what I can offer is a list of names devised purely to annoy our friend who dislikes Luke Shaw immensely, and had to eat his hat, so to speak. Ahem.
Shaw Heung Min
And Ryan Shawcross.
We moved into wrestlers after that.
Sorry, I’m just a little giddy.
Jon (Shawmoa Joe), Lincoln
The problem with writing in to the mailbox is that you get made to look quite daft, quite quickly (fully recognise I’m setting myself uo for a fall next Wednesday…)
So, Sterling only scores tap ins and doesn’t create anything…
England have played the “worst football” in the entire tournament…
England are winning “in spite” of the manager…
Just cool your jets, chill out, enjoy the ride and accept the fact that Southgate knows far more about football than you ever will.
I’m interested to see how many contributions there will be from people who will insist on finding fault after that result and who will be offering criticism of Southgate for getting England to a semi final of a major tournament without conceding a goal. You know the type, the entitled know-it-all with a problem for every solution.
Eoin (Hoping for that Italy vs England final) Ireland
At what point do England fans stop questioning Southgate?
– First England manager to reach two consecutive semi finals of a major tournament, and the only England manager to reach two.xx.c
– 9 goals scored, 0 conceded.
– one game away from setting a tournament record for consecutive clean sheets
– Southgate has won the most tournament knockout games of any England manager ever.
He’s really not shit, is he? WC2018 was a free pass. No one expected a semi final appearance, and we felt like we’d squeaked through against Colombia and hardly set the world alight against Sweden.
This feels different. A comfortable 2-0 win against Germany, a ruthless 4-0 dispatching of Ukraine.. up next is Denmark.
I’ve never felt so genuinely confident of an England tournament win.
Feeling bad for anyone who criticises Southgate now. He’s untouchable. Every decision he makes is right. And anyone who criticises him rightly has their sanity questioned.
‘But if we left out Sterling, we could have scored 7!’
Just enjoy the ride, safe in the knowledge we have the best man for the job, who coincidentally knows best when it comes to this team. So much nicer this way.
Chris, it’s already bloody home
I think it might be time for us all to agree to maybe just give Gareth Southgate the benefit of the doubt for the next week or so…
To all the moaning england fans. To all those that complained about every team selection and every decision. To all those that relentlessly criticised Gareth Southgate. To all those that booed your own team at the start of a match. To all those that for years have said “I don’t care about England.” You don’t deserve this. You don’t deserve this team and you don’t deserve the celebrations. There are so many fans of so many nations that would give everything to be where you are now. And shame on you for jumping on the bandwagon now.
To all those England fans that have backed your team, and supported them regardless: well done and enjoy it. This is the most likeable England team I’ve ever watched and even as a Scot, I’m quite happy to see them win. It’s been a really impressive tournament so far and you’ve got every chance of going all the way.
Mike, LFC, London
Allow me just a mo’ to take off my tinfoil hat so I can get enough wifi signal to send this e-mail…
How convenient that soon-to-be Sir Southgate has given Jadon Sancho so few minutes before he signs DaTing with United.
Once signed he suddenly gets picked in the starting 11 and is rather good.
My highly tuned conspiracy radar makes me wonder if Mr Southgate was on the Utd payroll not to play Sancho, so as to not take the risk of him playing well and therefore increasing his transfer value…. hmmmm..
Anyway… if you need me i’m busy outside Buck Palace trying to entice the lizard people royals out with a blue-bottle sandwich.
Dave (not a nutter – honest!) PVFC
Happy days with England doing us proud yet again. Another clean sheet, Kane finding his form at the right time, confidence on the up, togetherness clear, most of the pre-tournament favourites gone…this has to be England’s best hope of winning it, certainly in my lifetime! The team actually look like a team, and play as a unit who haven’t just been thrown together and had a few weeks of a training camp to get their understanding sorted…they do actually feel more like a club. Which got me thinking…I wonder how this England side would do if they were all at one club?
Man City or Man United would probably be the best candidates for the host of this hypothetical given their financial means + having 4 players apiece in their existing squads already (if we count Sancho already). I guess the tricky part would be trying to coax players from the other Manchester side across the road here. I think there’s an equal chance of both of them playing hardball, certainly when it comes to Sancho on one side, and Foden on the other. Throw in Kane, Grealish, Rice, Phillips (probable) valuations being sky high too, and we’re looking at about a billion quid’s worth of signings, which is a stretch even for these two take-my-money clubs. So let’s just create a new club; England Utd.
How would they do in the Prem? Are England Utd better than the current Man City side (minus Sterling, Foden, Walker, Stones)? Are they better than Man Utd (minus Sancho, Rashford, Shaw, Maguire)? You’d expect those two sides to splash the cash to replace them, so it’s hard to say. City would like Grealish as a replacement, but he’s already gone to England Utd. Similar question vs Liverpool…they’d only be losing Henderson, who technically would be easily replaceable, but influentially less so. Chelsea would be losing Reece-James and Mount, who are quality, but I don’t think Chelsea as a club would worry too much at their loss, as they’d just go hard in the transfer market to replace.
Man-for-man, I think England Utd would be lacking in the keeper department and probably out and out striker options. What do they do if Kane is injured? The Liverpool trio is arguably more threatening? In midfield too, on paper, you’d take the City midfield featuring KDB, Fernandinho, Rodri, Bernardo Silva over the likes of Rice, Phillips, Henderson. Similarly at Chelsea you’re comparing them to Kante, Havertz, Jorginho. Then you look at the back-line…Stones and Maguire would be up against pairing such as VVD/Gomez, Diaz/Ake, Rudiger/Thiago (ok Thiago Silva is getting on a bit tbf).
On paper, England Utd wouldn’t walk the league. They wouldn’t necessarily find the CL easy either, though as we’ve seen in the Euro’s, tournament football could be where this group of players can do something. League football is very different, and relentless. You’d think they’d find a rhythm and know how to climb the league, but I do feel the likes of Liverpool and City might be better in the long run. I’m pegging England Utd to finish 3rd in the league, guaranteed CL qualification, and then to go on to win that tournament the following season.
Be interested in hearing other’s opinions on this never-gonna-happen hypothetical.
Cannot believe we held the European Champions in their own back yard.
Raheem the hero
Kudos for your Raheem the hero piece. I was going to write in to ask how on earth the tabloids will do a complete 180 about face if England wins the Euros and Sterling continues to be the best player in the team (involved in 3 of 4 goals tonight). Can you imagine? Your article is a nice testimonial that speaksto this..the amount of crow they are going to have to eat. Epic.
Miguel LFC ( still won’t forgive how he left us though and I still think Italy are favorites)
Half time thoughts
Southgate and Sterling still haven’t learnt that Sterling is far better on the right or the centre. On the left, he’s never available up the line to Shaw. When they switch over, Sancho is there, on the line and available for the ball: cue instant attack opportunity.
Sancho looks bright as does Sterling when he’s in the right position.
Kane is dangerous in the penalty area. Alive, nice touches and a nice goal. So why the balls does he keep wandering into midfield? He needs to be the target, needs to occupy defenders, be available to sniff those half chances and receive crosses where he can turn and finish.
Mount is a bit lost. We need Foden. Especially if Kane is going to keep wandering.
Rest looks good, nice and tight. Looking golden!
Come on England!
Full time thoughts
That’ll do nicely. Kane playing more as a striker and rewarded for it again, space for Shaw to cross and what a delivery from the free kick. Sancho looking a threat, Mount getting some space.
You cannot argue with that. Bring it home lads!
As a long-term and long-distance follower of England football without the baggage of the British tabloids, I have a quick observation for you before the Ukraine game.
The on and off ‘debate’ about the various qualities of Raheem Sterling is a laughable projection.
He is your best player, he has been the best the whole tournament, and the one before that and you can probably round out the last decade with him being right up there….
The truth is if he was a white lad the faux-debate wouldn’t exist. He is exceptional, battle tested and a big gane player in ever way. So win lose or draw, appreciate what you got, because he is clearly special.
I say this because in Australia, we drove our most prominent indigenous player out of the game for calling out racism directed towards him. Those who did so chose to dress their critique in parts of his play that other champions of the game got a free pass on. His estrangement form the code is a stain on the soul of the Aussie game that will take years to heal. It is so ugly and it does not have to be this way for your own champion player….
So good luck, get this thing done and know when you got a good thing.
Jim Ando, LFC, Canberra / Aus
I think the rush to jump on a couple of incidents late in a match were they gave everything and played the best international football I’ve seen in years, in order to paint the Italians as cynical and ‘masters of the dark arts’ seems really like a really ‘narrative-driven’ opinion based on national stereotypes. This Italian team are a credit to football. Anyone who doesn’t see the inherent bravery in what they do is crazy. Yes they hung on like a tired heavyweight at the end. However, to focus on this is to be blind to what this team are. I said to anyone who would listen that there was nothing to admire in the French team that won the last world cup- except for the fact that they were all great footballers! This team are a proper team. If English contributors want to drag up well established national traits maybe they should focus on the hateful booing of the German National anthem the other day, which detracted from a likeable team with a nice manager, who are doing their best. However there should be no doubt that whatever happens, Italy have been the team of the tournament, cohesive, brave and exciting in equal measure.
Thanks, Michael, Ireland.
I read Gwarriors mail about the Italians and couldn’t help but be annoyed by it. Using words like ‘morally reprehensible’ for a football team in this day and age is a bit of a stretch. From what I could make out, they wound the clock down in a clever fashion, taking the ball into the corners, taking longer over free kicks, feigning injury in the same way I see PL teams doing week in week out. We’ve all seen Ben Foster kicking the goal post with both feet before EVERY GOAL KICK. We’ve seen players holding the ball up and rolling about on the floor. Booting the ball out of the stadium when it’s half a yard from the touch line. But it’s a problem for you when the Italians do it?
Morally reprehensible behaviour is in my view, things like corruption, or racism. I doubt gwarrior LCFC cares about the racism storm that Leicester City were caught up in the summer before they won the league.
As for cheering on the Spanish against the ‘skilful but morally reprehensible Italians’….have you really thought about this? Do you prefer the not at all snide gamesmanship of Sergio Busquets? The Spanish were kings of this type of football for well over a decade and yet you’re now cheering them on? I think you’re lacking a bit of consistency here.
Players cheat, bend the rules, from something hugely infuriating like diving to win a pen to the most annoyingly futile ‘placing a corner a millimetre outside of the quadrant’ and ‘claiming a throw in that clearly came off them last’. To call out the Italians just reeks of an old school of ignorance in my view. I’ve seen Jamie Vardy consistently dive and cheat as bad as anything I saw last night, but with him being Leicester and not Italian, the ends will justify the means I suppose?
Just enjoy the football. Accept that other countries have slightly different cultures to us and that when you see a player taking the p*ss a bit, remind yourself that your own players do it. Players of my team do it too, Kane backs in and stands his ground to win free kicks and Dele likes to exaggerate contact. Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Walker used to go down in the corner of the pitch with minimal contact because they know the ref will give them a free kick. They all do it. Just don’t use phrases like ‘morally reprehensible’ for things that just aren’t. Save it for the real scum like FIFA, UEFA and Arsenal.
Whilst England may still prevail with their attempts to win the Euros. Italy just proved (again) that style and substance can be mutual, they can achieve success and can progress.
If you hardliners want to dig yourself in to the ‘ I don’t care how, as long as we win ’ strategy- imagine if every team played as you did. Would you watch the euros? Would anybody?
Football fans put up with shit games- they long for good games- they adore great games. Even the famous tiki-taka was defeated by popular mindset, as, despite its destructive qualities, it was ultimately boring.
Judging by past winners, you either want to be a great or someone who surprised Europe. Think less like a Czech Republic and Greece and more of a France and Germany, because, with a squad worth almost a billion, and being English, it only makes sense to judge yourself next to powers similar to yours and not inferior.
So can an international team win, and well, whilst performing in an engaging match? Yes.
Can a team who has quality, option for the brave move, that ultimately lead to success? Yes.
Can a team perform aesthetically whilst also being technically inferior? Yes
Can you mix attacking fluidity with defensive resilience? Yes.
Will you consider the draw being tougher on you despite it not being? Yes
The Italian fans must be so annoyed today that yesterday could have been a 1-0.
Calvino (Forza Italia)
Marco Silva bafflement
Look, I get that when a new manager comes to England having done well in Portugal and Greece, a certain section of the fandom and the press has a little snigger (in a Christian Gross sort of a way) and doesn’t give him a chance. Certainly on arrival at Hull City, Marco Silva was a victim of that. It can’t be doubted that he did have a good record coming to England … 5 years ago. But 5 years is a long time in football, and I am absolutely mystified that Silva’s performance in English football is considered anything other than a shambolic disaster, at 3 different clubs.
F365’s article on his appointment at Fulham tries so hard to be balanced, but on the positive side of things has the following gems:
“Silva’s top-flight pedigree across Europe proves how good he can be when undistracted by casting glances or working under a threaded relationship with owners.”
“Silva has capabilities of which the new Bournemouth manager can only dream.”
“… decent jobs in Europe paved the way to an English club taking a positive chance and soon realising their new man was destined for greater things.”
“… a series of positive results which gave Hull City a far more fighting chance of staying up in the Premier League than looked likely at almost any other point in the 2016/17 season, Silva seemed destined for the top.”
“… eventually departing for Goodison Park, his stock high and expectations even higher.”
I just don’t get it. He has two brief “new manager bounces” to his name, and that’s about the extent of it. At Hull they got some impressive results in his first couple of months, and lifted themselves out of the relegation zone. But then they lost 5 of their last 7 games and got themselves relegated. They were 18th with 3 games to go, and managed to whimper their way out of the division with a home defeat against already-relegated bottom-of-the-table Sunderland, a 4-0 loss against a hardly-inspiring Crystal Palace, and 7-1 to Spurs. Pathetic.
On being appointed Watford manager the following season, the honeymoon period lasted a full 8 games before 3 wins out of the next 16 saw him sacked in January. People seem to always mention the interest from Everton as if this is some sort of an excuse. Why? Managers regularly have to keep their teams going while dealing with other outside issues, both personal and professional. It’s just weird that Silva seems to get a free pass on this one. He’s hardly the first person in football who is expected to do the job he is contracted to do, even though somebody else would quite like him to manage a different team instead. It’s so bizarre.
And then there’s Everton. One reasonably solid season where they finished in the same position as the year before (8th) when they had sacked one manager, had a caretaker for a month and then hired Big Sam Allardyce to rescue them (and in turn was sacked at the end of the season). And then Silva was sacked the following December while in 18th place.
So yes, I might be discounting his record abroad from 5 years ago (back when Alex Neill and Garry Monk were up-and-coming young managers too). But I really can’t see where any positive spin on his record in England comes from. It’s truly baffling.
Dave Lillis, Dublin