Oh, now the UEFA Nations League means something to all of you, eh?
Hypocrites, the lot of you. You didn’t catch any of us over here at GSITM suggesting that the whole tournament was a total waste of time. Oh, no. OK, we did but now England have actually done something of interest, of course, it is the greatest show on Earth. Who the hell wants the Premier League to return now?
You almost had to feel for the Daily Mail as they frantically tried to come up with the appropriate headline for their readers involving Raheem Sterling.
“Sterling scores twice in Spain in attempt to forget his World Cup failure!”
“Sterling fails to score historic hat-trick in Seville!”
“Two-goal Sterling disrespects England fans by celebrating brace in the wrong way!”
“Raheem Sterling Windsor? Manchester City footballer to blame for untraditional name for Harry and Meaghan’s unborn child!”
I haven’t actually checked to see what they have written, so do let me know if any of those went close.
If we judge England between the minutes five and 30, we’re going to win the Euros next time and then the World Cup. If we analyse the second-half a little more, let’s not get too excited.
So let us focus on the first half because boy, that was fun. It must have led to one big Spanish inquisition at the break.
It’s amazing what happens when you take Jordan Henderson out of a football team. Suddenly, England attacked with pace, energy and, believe it or not, a cutting edge. Granted, some of that upside is balanced out by the fact that Eric Dier was in the starting XI but still, Harry Winks and Ross Barkley were pretty impressive in the engine room.
It’s clear to almost everyone that, most of the time, Jordan Pickford is far better at the footballing bits than the goalkeeping bits as he was pinging balls into Harry Kane‘s feet in a Hoddlesque kind of way. Forget the error that led to him showing he can defend like Sergio Ramos, and by that I mean a couple of sly tugs of the shirt before a thundering slide-tackle, Pickford’s ability to move the ball forward quickly and accurately is something that we should encourage.
We are all too capable of getting carried away by an England performance, but there are a few things to consider when it comes to last night. Firstly, Spain have not lost a home fixture in 15 years. Jadon Sancho was still in nappies then, to give it some perspective. Secondly, this was no Spain B team – those boys battered Wales on Thursday night. Finally, Luis Enrique was unbeaten and riding the crest of the ‘being anyone other than Fernando Hierro’ wave until Sterling finished in a manner not quite befitting someone who hasn’t scored for England in three years.
Mind you, he nearly missed the one from half-a-yard out, didn’t he?
England’s switch to 4-3-3 in the last couple of matches also suggests that Southgate is learning, growing and developing as his time in the role continues. Whereas someone like Sven was 4-4-2 and would never have changed, Gareth is showing that he is flexible and as brave in his approach as he demands his players to be on the ball.
Anyway, I’m off to find an “I LOVE THE NATIONS LEAGUE” t-shirt and mug gift set.
Best competition in the world…