Regular readers of this column (and who am I kidding by suggesting we are plural here) will know that I wasn’t much of a fan of England before the World Cup but I became a bit of a turncoat during Russia 2018 and was fully on board the Gareth Southgate bus.
There’s a but coming, isn’t there.
Yes, yes there is.
But, let’s just have a little think, shall we. Take Spain for example. They had a shambolic World Cup and then have eased into the Nations League under Luis Enrique by beating England at Wembley and then slotting six past Croatia. Croatia, hmmm. They sound familiar. Ah yes, the team that beat England in the World Cup semi-final lost 6-0 to a team still adjusting to a new head coach.
I don’t want to always bang Mr Negative’s drum, but can we all agree that we are all back on Earth, now? We are making progress, sure, but no more than that.
I mean, 6-0. We didn’t get six shots away in the knockout stages, let alone put six in the net in the same game against a decent team.
Southgate makes a valid point when he says English players need to be starting for their clubs if they are going to keep their places in the national team and it must be frustrating for him to see the likes of Phil Foden, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Marcus Rashford and, er, Danny Welbeck struggle to nail down starting sports for Manchester City, Chelsea, United and Arsenal but hey. If they were that good and all that.
Southgate suggested Fabian Delph looked ‘rusty’ against Switzerland. Or, Gareth, or maybe he isn’t that good. But beggars can rarely be choosers and all that.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek really, really wants to play for Chelsea, bless him. He says he has the ‘scent’ of a first-team chance, like a true bloodhound, but Sarri wants him to ‘learn tactically’ before he is ready to be trusted on a regular basis. It is easy to forget that Ross Barkley seems to be ahead of RLC in Sarri’s thinking so maybe he might want to remind Gareth he exists? Loftus-Cheek could well end up back at Palace on loan for the second half of the season and that would not be a bad thing.
Barcelona are in the market for a new second-choice left-back having sold Lucas Digne to Everton in the summer and they’d like to sweet-talk Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal into being that very man. Think about it Nacho, Copa del Rey football for Barca once in a while or a starting spot every week in London? You know it makes sense.
Real Madrid would now like to whisk Ajax‘s Frenkie de Jong from under the noses of Tottenham Hotspur, who were pretty sure they were going to add to their ex-Ajax alumni.
Darren Bent has been sending smoke signals to Steven Gerrard at Rangers saying that is the club he’d like to add to his list of places he has stolen a living (alright, alright, maybe only the last six).
And finally, in not-very-shocking news, John Terry has decided the Moscow nightlife isn’t exactly what he and his family are looking for and has turned down the contract put on the table by Russian Premier League side Spartak Moscow.