Gareth Southgate has earned the nations’s undying gratitude for the way he has managed and prepared the team. Sometime between supported by loathsome fighting far right yobs and a more peaceful fan the England team lost its connection with their support. Gareth Southgate referred to being booed in Malta as recently as last year on their team coach. Terry Venables was streetwise , Roy Hodgson fluent in 5 languages and well read but arguably Gareth Southgate is the most intelligent coach we have ever had. He reads situations well, keeps the press on side, manages expectations and after last night showed that preparation is all. You have to go back to Alf Ramsay ‘s 1966 boys for a better esprit de corps.
Can England go on and get to the final? I don’t think so. Out problem is in midfield. Jordan Henderson is alone in the enforcing /holding role whilst Lingard and Dell Alle are really auxiliary attackers playing well up the field. If we come up against a team with a world class midfield like Belgium or Brazil we could be overrun..
Obviously not being In Russia I had no choice other than to watch at home. However an alternative arose as there is big screen in the complex where I live. A friend of mine suggested we watch it there but he never showed and I was quite relieved. I’ve reached the age where you do wonder how close the nearest loo is and I could do without the collective ecstasy in victory . I did need some generous slugs of malt whisky to get me through the shoot out. Famously Glenn Hoddle said you cannot practice penalties as you can’t recreate the situation. But you can. . For a start take the penalties after a training session when bodies are tired. You can analyse videos of opposing penalty takers. . Keepers can practice diving one way and using your trailing leg to divert the shot down the middle. All this Gareth did.
As tot he coverage Mark Pougatch on ITV did what whale all capable presenters do: make the job look easy though it isn’t In a comfort break I had radio 5 ON to hear Mark Chapman who had read out a tweet from Tino Aprilla criticising the ref for England favouritism and Chris Waddle the inarticulate barrack room lawyer working up a head of steam over it . Hopefully the powers that BEEB noted all this and we have heard the last of Chappers.
After the match I exchanged texts with John Pargiter. Pargie had bet against Switzerland and reminded me and you Sweden beat France in their Cup qualifying group and overcame Holland and Italy to qualify. They are no mugs , an immensely tough side to beat , being so well drilled. Bring them on!