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?
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.
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.