England have 'gate expectations!

Published date07 July 2021
Date07 July 2021
Publication titleBirmingham Mail (England)
HAT a fantastic feelgood atmosphere there is around the country following England's comprehensive win over the Ukraine to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 where they now face Denmark at Wembley tonight.

Every single non-England fan will want Denmark to win after seeing one of their players, Christian Eriksen, suffer a cardiac arrest on the pitch during a group stage game. Thankfully, he is on the road to recovery. However, the Danes will be playing for him on a powerful wave of emotion and that makes them formidable.

England's journey so far has given the whole country a massive lift just when we needed it most as Covid lockdown restrictions look like ending on July 19 following a tough and unprecedented 18 months-plus.

Sport can, and often does, lift the spirits of a nation when one of our own does well, be it at Wimbledon, in a boxing ring, on a grand prix circuit, golf course or in any other major sport. However, nothing quite captures the imagination like our national football team winning tournament matches and progressing through to the business end.

I hope all the Monday morning managers will now leave Gareth Southgate to get on with the job of managing/coaching England and at least give him the respect he deserves.

He has steered this young, skilful, vibrant, energetic, passionate squad into the semi-finals without conceding a goal. I am sure everyone realises tournament football is hugely different and therefore needs managing differently. He has managed it brilliantly so far, especially with the way he uses his squad and ensures everyone he needs has game-time.

Of course, we all can, and often do, pick better teams, formations and tactics than Southgate after the event because, as we know, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

It is a place where no-one makes a mistake and, more importantly, has no responsibility or accountability for any errors made in the team we pick. I include myself when I say we all believe we are better managers and players than him and his squad as we play our version of fantasy football.

We also want to see players from our club in the starting line-up and around this area Villa fans think Jack Grealish should start, Blues fans think Jude Bellingham should start and Wolves fans want to see Conor Coady in the starting line-up.

I totally understand fans thinking that and, from a local point of view, would love to see them all in the starting XI.

This is the first major football tournament where head coaches are allowed to use...

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