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Reflections on England’s 2018 World Cup in Russia
« on: July 24, 2018, 09:58:25 AM »
Reflections on England’s 2018 World Cup in Russia

France beat Croatia 4-2 to win the World Cup. Congratulations Hugo Lloris, but could that have been England? No... no chance. Not on the evidence we’ve seen in this World Cup.

Is England the heroes they claim to be, or just lucky to be in the right place at the right time?

Before England went to the World Cup Southgate was happy to tell everybody that he had a young squad and expectations were not going to be that high. The press, public and media bought into it (reverse-psychology). So, anything above that was going to be in England’s favour. Put the bar very low and when you go slightly above it, you become heroes, as the case was.

We – yes, even I  – bought into the hype and propaganda bulls**t and when we got knocked out, we declared the “young” England squad heroes. Or were they just a naïve and young team, believing that because they got the rub of the green/ luck, they could do anything?

Our first game was against Tunisia. Tunisia was not a high ranking team and we should easily overcome them, which we did. That was followed by Panama, where we got an impressive win, 6-1. All good so far, against teams we were expected to beat anyway. This match was followed by Belgium. Belgium was a different kettle of fish, but to the wisdom of both managers, they decide to put out a second-tier team. In this case, Belgium came off better, or was that worse? They won, but we got the best deal… and everybody knew that this was just a reserve friendly. But a friendly that did its job, from an English perspective.
Nevertheless, we got through, so job done.

Germany failed to qualify, so one of the big guns got knocked out early. Because we lost to Belgium, we took a more comfortable route. Next up was round 16, we were to face Sweden. In the meantime, Argentina, Spain, Portugal and Denmark were out. This was significant as it made it a lot easier for the weaker teams to go that extra mile.

So, we faced Sweden and beat them quite comfortably.  Belgium beat Japan, while the eventual winners had a tougher match, knocking outing Argentina.

All good so-far. By beating Sweden, we gave the impression to the watching public that we were invincible and could beat anyone. Illusion or delusion shouldn’t be under-estimated.
In the next round, Belgium knocked out favourites Brazil (2-1). That was the Quarter-Finals. Next up was the Semi-Finals. France beat Belgium, while we took on Croatia. All was looking good, as we scored after 4 minutes, but up popped Persic and I got that sinking feeling. Before that goal went in, I thought we could do it (delusional), but it wasn’t to be. Croatia changed the game around and they showed their experience and skill and in extra time they got an added goal. It was all over for us.

Not to worry, as the well-used mantra came out about us being a team with minimal expectations. Maybe third spot might do it, but our innocence showed again and we were well-and-truly beaten by Belgium, 2-0. With both sides using their stronger players.
Did we ever have a chance? Looking back, no. Once the big guns got knocked out we were talked up.

France was probably the best team that got through from round 16. The other poorer teams just allowed themselves to get carried away with all the hysteria and hype surrounding their country’s good fortunes in getting a bit further up the road.

But for us, we just inflated ourselves by talking ourselves down and with the luck of the draw created a giant hysterical/ delusional Twilight Zone moment.

It made the country feel good and probably did something for the illustrator Southgate and his fledgeling ducklings. That is until next time when the press and the public might not be so sympathetic to the England Teams psychological sleight of hand.

In two years time, this “young” squad will be that much older and that much more experienced, then they won’t have anywhere to hide if it all goes pear-shaped. In the meantime the bunting will be put away, the good feel factor will be discussed, then our eyes will be refocused on the up and coming Football leagues’ season. Eventually, this World Cup will be addressed by more sober generations, who will ultimately see it for what it was; a new manager talking down his team so that anything above a certain threshold will be seen as smart manoeuvring.

I’ve lived a life that’s full. I’ve travelled each and every highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.