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Reflections on a great night

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!

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