This summer’s World Cup will be remembered by everyone in England as the tournament that healed the divide between the national team and the public. Fast forward to last Tuesday and that apathetic feeling towards England showed signs of creeping back into the mindset of the supporters, following the dull 1-0 win over Switzerland at Leicester.
So what has changed? Well, Gareth Southgate’s choice of attire of course. The nation fell in love with his infamous waistcoat a couple of months ago. Since the Nations League began, he has switched to wearing a suit. England lost 2-1 against Spain on Saturday night, in a match where Spain dominated. However, it was also a match where England should have drew. That was because they had a goal disallowed in the 97th minute after DAT GUY WELBZ was deemed to have fouled David De Gea.
It’s no secret that goalkeepers have been over-protected for several years now. And in a week that UEFA announced plans for a third European club competition, don’t be surprised to read next week that goalkeepers will now be walking out wearing all the protective gear that an ice hockey goalie demands.
A leaked audio message from Stephen Ward of an expletive-ridden argument between Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane and Cardiff City’s Harry Arter was put into the public domain this week. Yes, I know. It is very unlike Roy to be involved in an argument. And it couldn’t possibly be his fault. Nevertheless, it is true.
The performance by Wales against the Republic of Ireland compelled many of us Welsh (me included) to wax lyrical about how good our team was, and how we’re going to win the next three World Cups. We were all sent back down to earth on Sunday night, after Wales were swept aside 2-0 in Denmark. This was a full-strength Danish side because of a truce with the Danish FA for the time being. And unlike against the Irish, this time our performance resembled less like 1970’s Brazil, and instead resembled 2017-18 Arsenal.
Christian Eriksen proved too much for the Welsh to handle. His brace really ended the game as a contest, and the match proceeded with the Danish players taking to social media to profess how much pride they had in playing for their country. Could have fooled me. I don’t know the full details on what went on with the Danish FA, however, I just cannot imagine wanting money to represent my country.
Having been thrashed 4-0 by Belgium last week, many Scots were worried about the psychological damage that could have exerted onto the players ahead of the Nations League game against Albania. There were not to be anybody feeling sorry for themselves and blew away Albania by playing decent football on their way to a 2-0 victory. A Djimsiti on goal set them on their way before Everton legend Steven Naismith made sure of the win.
At Windsor Park where there are not many sounds better than hearing Sweet Caroline belted out by 18,000 Irish drinkers, Northern Ireland had a contrasting couple of games. The 2-1 defeat by the lacklustre but clinical Bosnians was harsh on Michael O’Neill’s boyos. They then had a morale-boosting 3-0 win over Israel on Tuesday night, with the underrated Steven Davis, Stuart Dallas and Gavin Whyte all scoring.
Third-placed Watford have taken us all by surprise with the start they have made. Unbeaten having dismantled Spurs a couple weeks ago, we have ALL been begging Netflix to create a fly on the wall series to discover how they have performed so immaculately so far. Well, fear no more. Manager Javi Gracia has revealed the secret to their success are £100 fines for being a minute late.
Scratch that Netflix.
Harry Kane’s season has yet to really get started, despite his moderate two-goal tally in four games. So many pundits such as Craig Bellamy, have called on Mauricio Pochettino to rest the English number 9. Err, maybe he is just out of form, something most footballers endure? It just sounds crazy to suggest that one of the sharpest finishers in football needs to recharge his batteries so early on in the season, albeit after playing in the World Cup.
National team colleague Marcus Rashford was the subject of more classic Jose Mourinho shenanigans at his pre-Watford press conference. Asked a question about his use of Rashford, he went on a three-minute rant before reeling off the forward’s stats from a piece of paper. His inspiration was obviously taken from Rafael Benitez.
In other news, West Ham’s Argentinian playmaker Manuel Lanzini returned to the club after lengthy injury rehabilitation in Barcelona. Great news.
Have a great weekend everyone.