Unfortunately a lot of it is ignoring the failings of both the current team and the only other English side to reach a semi-final on foreign soil.
The commentators for the final quarter final between Croatia and Russia were at least honest in stating the game was rubbish, the excitement was there but on technical skill it was tripe. The thing was England’s earlier game against Sweden to see who would face the winner of that later game in the semi was equally as poor.
I said the post after England had booked their quarter final place that Sweden were
dull and unadventurous up until that point and thankfully they decided not to change for this game. In fact you could say they were even worse than in their previous games and yet it was England’s keeper, Pickford, who was man of the match with a string of excellent saves.
It’s a good job they lost that Belgium game. Hell, Brazil were ordinary but they would have caused England problems.
We’ll have to hope that Croatia are as poor in the semi as they have been in the previous two knockout games, which they’ve required penalties to get through. But then there’s similarities between the previous two teams they’ve face, Denmark and Russia and England.
The main difference being that this England can be better than they’ve actually shown so far. I mean, look at Harry Kane the competition’s top scorer, yet he hasn’t been played a decent ball all tournament. There’s just no real link between him and the rest on the floor. Hell, has Sterling passed him the ball yet? He had one shot against Sweden, some will claim Sterling passed it to him, yet in reality Sterling lost the ball and Harry latched onto it.
The virtue signally over Sterling’s place in the team and performances have been beyond belief. Starting with Lineker during the match banging on about how great Sterling’s work was and that you had to be a player to see it. Carried on by the print media who are desperate not to criticise his ineptness, they’ve resorted to claiming that he’s been great by the use of stats for speed and the amount of running. The problem being the quickest player is Walker and if he was there Walcott would be amongst the top three. Three players that can run fast but are clueless with the ball at their feet. What’s the point of being fast if you slow down as Sterling does, to cut inside into a defender who takes the ball of you? What’s the advantage of being fast if when you’re faced with an open goal you haven’t a clue which foot to kick the ball with?
The other stats used as evidence were sprints and distance covered. Well Dele comes above him in sprints and plenty want Dele out of the side. And he’s not in the top five for distance covered. Harry having to drop back to actually see the ball runs further.
I even read someone claiming that Kane and Sterling are the perfect partnership. Spurs lost a legend over the weekend in Alan Gilzean, now there was someone who worked with two legendary strikers at the club Jimmy Greaves and Martin Chivers over his decade at the club. Those were partnerships, Sterling’s selfishness against Sweden after he’d butchered yet another chance shows there’s no link between him and Harry, luckily it hasn’t cost the team… yet.
If Sterling had been as half as good as those trying to justify his position they wouldn’t have needed all this justification.
The same lot want Dele benched, he had a poor start to the Sweden game but grew into it and came away with a goal, unlike Sterling. People say he’s not working out, well could there be a reason beyond maybe an injury? How about someone getting in the way of his ability to link up with Kane.
Harry blamed for not being in the game, well if no one passes you the ball guess what? Yet, he does drop deep and wins fouls, knows what’s coming and gets on with it, for all the touches Sterling had – another stat they tried to use to piss on you to tell you it’s raining – how many free-kicks does he actually win.
And if Harry isn’t going to get anything on the floor put something on his head. One of the other Southgate weak links was being praised for his set pieces, Ashley Young, yet his play otherwise was tedious and inept. And what loss would he be at set pieces when we have Trippier? Young’s facing his own goal and stopping all the time and back passing is exceptionally annoying. When the one time he actually got to the byline and crossed the ball with his left it took everyone by surprise, so nothing came from it. Cross it for Harry, yes the Swedes are big fellas but he’s got the nous to beat ’em.
The second goal showed they can be beaten with headers, with Lingard’s excellent ball. Harry can find the type of space Dele found there.
Can Young keep Croatia’s wide player on that side occupied? Or will he spend most of his time struggling to control attacks down that side. Rebic and Perisic versus Young and Walker. Does it bear thinking about?
Will Modric and Rakitic run rings round Henderson? Or will it by 1990 and England finally turn up and play their best stuff. Back then the semi-final place glossed over the rubbish that went before. The penalties were classed as unlucky and the team returned heroes. Getting to the same spot has led to similar, Southgate being classed as the new Robson – which doesn’t bode well for the Euros does it.
This is the best chance England have ever had of reaching a final. Better than ’90 when it wasn’t exactly a poor team they were up against, the eventual winners, again the same in ’96. You could even argue in ’66 as well, Portugal were no push overs.
If only there wasn’t Southgate’s favourites or the aftereffect of his half-time talks… but he’s the new messiah, so we can’t go against the group thought…