Harold Wilson once famously said that a week in politics is a long time, the same can be said when it comes to supporting the England football team.
Despite the last-gasp winner, England were good value for their win against Wales last Thursday, which in turn set up Monday night’s clash with Slovakia. An England win, whatever Wales’s result, would have clinched top spot in the group.
Except it didn’t happen. Much is being made of Roy Hodgson’s wholesale changes to the starting line-up, which I think is all a bit of a smokescreen. We created numerous chances and on another night, with a bit of luck, could have easily run out comfortable winners.
Ultimately it’s very difficult to play any side at any level who have almost settled for a draw before kick-off. This potential third place entry into the last 16 introduces a degree of caution, rather than perhaps the free-flowing, attacking football everyone would like to see.
The statisticians tell us that of all the sides so far England have created the most chances, yet have the worst conversion rate when it comes to goals.
Stats can be manipulated whichever way people choose, but ultimately can anyone really complain?
We’re not on the plane home, unlike the last World Cup!
If England had created a low number of chances, what kind of stick would Hodgson be getting now having not topped the group?
While I think the England manager will secretly regret not taking Andy Carroll, the players we do have in the squad can score goals and I think the knock-out football stage, despite numerous detractors who think otherwise, will suit England.
Because the draw hasn’t panned out as most thought, ie Spain and England didn’t top their respective groups, we now have us, Germany, Spain, France and, barring a freak result last night, Italy. I don’t see that as a great hardship, far from it, if you are to win the tournament, you have to beat everyone anyway, so at the knock-out stage does the order really matter?
I’m still sticking with my last four prediction and I still think we’ve got the players to win the whole thing. But, then again, it’s unlike me to get carried away!
n It’s ten years since a teenage Andy Murray cracked a joke (he actually does sometimes) about England in the 2006 World Cup, which appeared to upset large parts of the nation.
Despite his unprecedented success in the tennis world, he does remain to some purely Scottish and not British.
That’s almost as comical about his football comment a decade ago. On Sunday, he won the Queen’s Club tournament for a record fifth time, and at number two in the world, with career earnings of £45million, he is without doubt the greatest tennis player Great Britain has ever produced.
But in 50 years time, will he be lauded as a great British sporting legend?
It’s really a no brainer. With Wimbledon on the horizon and a real prospect of Murray winning the title again, never mind 2066, he’s a legend now. I just wish, especially in the aftermath of possible defeat at the All England Club, that the anti Murray rubbish doesn’t surface again this year.
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