I’m probably a part of a dying breed of football fan (especially followers of a “top 6” club) that would prefer to see England win the World Cup rather than my team win the league / champions league. My Grandad was lucky enough to be at Wembley in 1966 when England beat Germany and I think it’s incredibly cool that he has seen England win a World Cup in person.
The first World Cup I remember was 1998, I remember being mesmerised by Michael Owen, Dennis Bergkamp and Zinedine Zidane. I loved how the whole nation became united and when David Batty missed that penalty it was the first time I had ever shed a tear over a football game.
Being a Spurs and England fan hasn’t been the easiest. Both have suffered numerous heartbreaking losses, but it was with England, where I thought I would witness a side I supported win something major.
The likes of Campbell, Ferdinand, Terry, Gerrard, Lampard, Scholes, Neville, Owen, Cole and Beckham were a great side on paper and were seen as the guys to finally bring England back from the football wilderness.
Englands golden generation.
They were genuine contenders.
Of course, it never happened and fast forward to 2018 and for the majority it has never felt so far away.
Before the squad announcement yesterday, I had predicted the 23 man squad and shared with some friends. A exercise that should take 5 minutes ended up taking about 20. WHO THE HELL PLAYS IN CENTRE MIDFIELD? I had Henderson and Dier and then my mind went blank. I had completely forgotten about Reuben Loftus Cheek, very much ignorance on my part, but the fact that a reasonably clued up football fan had forgotten about him is slightly concerning.
The lustre of the England football team seems to be at an all time low.
England haven’t won a knock out game at a major championship since 2002, previous championship performances have been way too defensive and insipid and the headline loss against Iceland has seen so many lose faith.
Many saw the appointment of Gareth Southgate as a failure before he had even started and the general feeling is that if England could sneak into the quarters (far easier said than done) it will be seen as a good tournament. However, I think there are a few reasons to be optimistic.
From what I can see, Southgate seems to be an incredibly liked coach and I think is a person that the players will respect. He seems to have learnt lessons from previous regime failures.
I like the fact he has gone with youth. Ok, there is a real lack of what you would call world class talent but hopefully with the youth comes a lack of fear.
He has made some ballsy decisions.
Hart, rightfully isn’t in the squad. Wilshere, is a player I think England could have done with but I am not overly bothered he didn’t make the cut. With the exception of Danny Rose he has picked players who have had good seasons and are fit. Everyone should be raring to go. This can’t be said for tournaments in the past.
I like that Southgate seems to have a plan and has picked players based on how he wants England to play. He has picked players that can benefit the system rather than the best 23 available. Too often in the past we have taken players and played them in weird positions – see Rooney as a holding midfielder vs Iceland. Or if things are unravelling we generally didn’t really seem to have a clue about how to get back into the game – see Kane taking corners.
With Southgate I think everyone will know their role and these calamities should be avoided. He is a calm presence and from what I have seen of his England side – we do seem composed and aware of the situations. See the Kane last second equaliser against the Scots.
Englands record under Southgate is solid enough. They have won the games they should have and lost against sides that are better. Even in defeat, England rarely get battered. The 3 – 5 – 2 that I think we will play with , will see us being defensively solid and I think we can give most countries a good game. When we play a Brazil, Spain, France, Belgium I don’t expect us to win but I don’t think we will be blown away – we should always be in the game.
Putting my bias glasses on, I do think we have a world class striker and if Kane can convert the few chances he is going to get, England might be able to cause some shocks.
I also love that England are going to be rapid. Pace at the top level can get you places and England on the counter could be really dangerous.
After re reading this I have now convinced myself that we are going to win this thing. Ashley Young will be the new Cafu and Kane will score 18 this tournament!
All jokes aside, all England need to do this tournament is build. Getting out the group should be the priority and that should at least build some momentum going into the knock out rounds. From there – who knows.
My England shirt (not the £60 shirt with a badge on) is on the way and my World Cup playlist will be created. I’m listening to 3 lions as I write.
England. I’m ready. Bring on Russia lets shock some people.