Well ladies and gentlemen we once again find ourselves in the similar position as fans and die hard followers of the England national side. Waiting on the arrival of another major tournament, having once again sailed through (though unspectacular at times) a routine group, filled to the brim with fairly limited teams. England’s rather tepid 1-0 victory against footballing minnows Lithuania booked Gareth Southgate’s men tickets to the World Cup finals next year.
Now the real work begins, whether England won every group game 4-0 the ultimate judgement would be reserved for next year in Russia. Though nothing will be on the line, ultimately the upcoming friendly matches versus Germany and Brazil will be a greater indication of where the team currently stands against the cream of crop in international football. For if they are to banish the ghosts of the previously disappointing tournament efforts, it’s such teams that England will have to face down and conquer.
On a positive note their last couple friendlies consisting of a 2-2 draw versus Spain and a narrow 3-2 loss to France, showed glimpses of the teams capabilities of worrying the best teams, though in both matches loss of composure in defence denied them better results (they were 2-0 up with ten minutes remaining vs Spain).
Something that I’m sure Gareth Southgate will be working on tirelessly in training in between now and the World Cup.
Much was made of fans lack of interest in the Slovenia game last Thursday, with a paper air-plane landing in the goal being greeted by rapturous applause from the fans. Despite the deserved lack of excitement by fans, after the last few underwhelming games, come summer 2018 football love will reach fever pitch. The flags of Saint George will be in house windows, draped over fans in Russia and more than likely sticking out of your next door neighbours car window. We are suckers for pain when England go to a major tournament but we will be behind the team 100% come the time, as always.
I just want for the first time in what seems like an age, for the national side to turn up at a tournament all guns blazing and not crawl back into its shell. Past tournament upsets such as Greece winning the Euros in 2004 and Denmark winning it in 1992, show it’s not all about having a star studded line-up. After the failures of the so called ‘Golden Generation’ we of all fans should know this. It’s more important that players who play against each other week in week out in the Premier League actually play as a team and don’t look like complete strangers, as we’ve seen far too many times in past doomed tournaments.
Of course, individual brilliance is needed now and again, especially to unlock defences in tight games and against teams parking the proverbial bus. However without any team cohesion, it’ll be nothing more than a disjointed display. As a lover of football in general I’m looking forward to the World Cup, it would be nice however if this time round, England give us all a tournament to remember, for the right reasons this time.