Just in

Croatia 2 England 1

In the end the expectations caught up with the team. Gareth Southgate managed the nation’s expectations superbly but social media and the endless renditions of ‘football’s coming home’ placed too much of a burden on those young shoulders.

The fears  that the Rust’s correspondents had of the team’s weaknesses proved correct: Kyle Walker was at fault with one of the goals, the England midfield was overrun in the second half, Croatia had too much space on the  flanks and, with Kane not firing, the only alternative was the set piece.

Having seen the 1966 side and 1990 both were superior. The 1990 semi-finalists contained the likes of Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne, Des Walker, Chris Waddle, Paul Parker all showcased their considerable talent.

It is to Southgate’s credit that his preparation took England  future stars further than their  talents. Had we beaten Croatia would we have beaten such a strong French side?

A comment frequently made by the analysts on the panel was England would never get a better chance. How can they be so sure? The next competition is the Euros and

last time Portugal won this.

True the England side has potential to improve – Ryan Sessegnon will have premier experience and can replace Ashley Young – others will come into the reckoning. However Germany will not sit idle and will regroup as they did after they sacked Berti Vogts. Italy too, according to Stefano Ursolini, have outstanding youngsters like the two Federicos – Bernardeschi and Chiesa.

Another forecast that went awry was that the Croatians were too tired after two extra-time games against Denmark and Russia.

When you play for Real Madrid (Modric) or Barcelona (Raketic) or Juventus (Mandzukic) you have severe trading regimes capable of sustaining 120 minutes whilst England look tired against Columbia. Harry Kane looked leggy last night and the two chance he had, he fluffed his lines.

It was an enjoyable journey which united the country but the brutal reality is that England exceeded our expectations and talents.

About Rex Mitchell

Rex Mitchell is a Brentford supporter from childhood. This has not prevented him having a distinguished Fleet Street career as a sports reporter and later deputy football editor. A widower, Rex is a bit of a bandit golfer off his official handicap of 20 and is currently chairman of his local bowls club. More Posts