Well, who on earth saw that coming? It turns out you can’t win a World Cup just by repeatedly saying “it’s coming home” and humming a tune under your breath all day every day. Apparently, you need the lads to muster some shots on goal in open play as well.
I really don’t know how many people actually believed or were just playing along because it was fun but let us all be honest – nobody expected England to be one period of extra-time away from a World Cup final when Gareth Southgate bought his waistcoat and announced the squad he was taking to Russia. All the way back then, far too much of the footballing population was bemoaning the fact he hadn’t picked Jonjo-bloody-Shelvey, for crying out loud.
This was a moment for England. In the end, Croatia were better than them after 25 minutes and in the second period of extra-time but for those two other periods, England should have had them. The chances were there and they were spurned.
But then, really, what do you expect when you overload your team with players from Tottenham Hotspur? Yes, players from Spurs have scored more goals in this tournament than any other club in the world but let’s be honest – Spurs and semi-finals? Not for me, thanks. Granted, Kieran Trippier did score a free-kick that, and I am going to say this in public, the goalkeeper probably could have saved simply by extending his arms. But Harry Kane chose the worst possible time to put in the kind of performance he normally reserves for August in the Premier League.
On the subject of Kane, who I do love as a player, honest; possibly the worst winner of a Golden Boot ever? By that I mean, three penalties, two tap-ins from corners and one of his backside that he knew nothing about? I know they all count but if he could have just taken one of his two massive chances yesterday, things might have been different.
Luka Modric spoke after the game about what had motivated his “old, tired” Croatia side. Yes, folks, once again the English media. If they are not busy trying to stitch our side up they are happily spouting enough rubbish to motivate the opposition. Thanks, Fleet Street.
And now England has what England do best – a team that failed in a glorious manner, and I mean that in a nice way. We don’t do winning very well in Blighty so it might even be better if these boys get looked back on in years to come as the latest set of nearly men.
Gareth Southgate spoke eloquently, the only way he can speak really, about how the team are “hurting” right now and how they have done everyone proud. They have, Gareth. But bloody hell, we should have killed that game.