England’s Dreaming and Wayward Transfer Nightmares

John Lydon nailed it: “England’s dreaming!”

The context is totally wrong, of course, but the country is dreaming. For the first time in 28 years; think about that. Nobody under the age of 35 has seen England in a World Cup semi-final.

You’ve got to be older than that to remember a time when the England team were, by and large, liked. There is a ludicrous minority who hate the Tottenham element of Southgate’s team. It’s not a long stride from that stance to becoming one brick short of the hod and claiming we only won 1 – 0 yesterday because Alli scored.

And this team has, like their 1990 peers, grown on people. Low expectations going into the tournament helped immensely and Gareth Southgate coming across as a bloody nice bloke in the media tops it off. There’s something of the ‘island mentality’ creeping in as well.

Anyone who has trawled social media will see a seething resentment against the English, usually from nations whose football teams weren’t good enough to qualify – often in humiliating circumstances – and those who’ve exited a tournament they expected to win. Or at least be in the last four.

Get over it. That’s the nature of tournament football and you play the cards dealt. England have played them spectacularly well. Organised, disciplined, playing to their strengths, while unafraid of meeting cynicism with cynicism.

Yesterday’s win over Sweden was a pleasant contrast to most other matches in that sense. It came as the Swedes reached the limit of their abilities, as England may in the semi-final.

A thunderous header from Harry Maguire secured him a move to a bigger club in the near future. Comparisons to Tony Adams at a similar age are not so wide of the mark as they seem. Leadership is the key difference between the two.

England, Oh England

And the second goal, Dele Alli’s header, came from a profitable source: the right side where Trippier worked his socks off, in both aspects of the full-back role: defence and attack.

There wasn’t a bad performance from any of those in red and the consistency of that must continue against Croatia, even from those you wouldn’t want anywhere near an Arsenal team. Yes, Henderson, I’m looking at you.

The other Jordan is coming of age in these finals. Beforehand, I advocated Butland but Southgate ignored that sage advice to stick with Pickford and finds himself rewarded a hundred times over. Yesterday proved no exception with the Everton ‘keeper proving his worth at crucial moments. £30m is seeming good value at the momentum until his next mistake, that is.

Raheem Sterling is copping flak this morning and I’m sure he thinks he should have scored, but for running defenders out of position, he deserves credit. His is a completely different role for England; Manchester City players create more for him while the national team needs him to create.

And succeed in bringing Croatia down to our level which has happened in the two knockout phase matches so far. This is the team which swept Argentina aside but struggled to overcome Denmark and Russia for that reason. That’s a thought for later this week.

They just about made it past Russia who took some of the poorest penalties since England’s last shootout before this World Cup. Igor Akinfeev, however, is the unluckiest goalkeeper I’ve seen in shootout, saving a spot kick before watching his efforts wasted by a poor kick by a teammate. Then pushing a kick onto the post only to see it fly behind him and into the other side of the net, instead of going out to safety.

Lucas and Balloon Babies

On the Arsenal front, all eyes are on Lucas Torreira who is according to various sources, at once in South America flying to London next week or in the capital flying a balloon of Donald Trump over London Colney.

Ludicrously, the Spanish media claim Nacho Monreal has been told to do one by Unai Emery. It seems that the Spaniard interrupted the Spaniard’s holiday to deliver the bad news. Me either.

Elsewhere, David Ornstein’s inside track is warped by the heat. Others are claiming that we’re in talks for N’Zonzi and, oh what the hell, who cares? The tattle is such that you know all of it is tosh, and whatever will be will be. Que sera, sera, we’re going to the Luzhniki…

’til Tomorrow.

26 thoughts on “England’s Dreaming and Wayward Transfer Nightmares

  1. Good morning YW and everyone. I do not understand this talk of Monreal being told to leave. I know he is old, but what could the reasons be for this ? He has been one of our more consistent performers.

  2. Sorry Lari—thought I was first when I finished reading the post! Should have refreshed the page.

  3. Croatia do seem easy to get pulled down from footballing heights into scrappy play. They haven’t been nearly so impressive in the knockouts facing such tough minded organized defenses. England really has a good chance against them if they continue to negate the need for midfield play where Rakitic and Modric have the advantage. More crosses, set pieces and corners for tall English players to head the ball and Croatia will be in trouble. Plus the young team has kept its focus and doesn’t seem to feel the pressure as earlier England teams. Probably right that low expectations have helped a great deal.

    Must be a great atmosphere in England of excitement. A final is a realistic possibility now.

  4. lari03:
    Good morning YW and everyone. I do not understand this talk of Monreal being told to leave. I know he is old, but what could the reasons be for this ? He has been one of our more consistent performers.

    Is this really being discussed? I think like you that Monreal has been a rock if consistent quality. He played 4 positions for us very well. Left sided CB in a two, Left sided CB in a three, LB and LWB. He may be getting older but he has much to offer. Kolasinac hasn’t displaced him by a long shot; I hope he develops this year but Monreal was better all last season.

  5. All seems to be coming from Spain, where Sociedad are supposedly getting all uppity and thinking they can cherrypick our best players.

  6. The article gets at something I noticed last night—the semi finals have so many current and ex Spurs players. Especially Belgium and England.

  7. Great post Yogi

    I had a feeling this England team would exceed expectations. I don’t think they would finish in the top 4 over the course of a 38 game season against the World Cup field but anything can happen in a knockout tournament style.

    I am very happy that the Torriera move seems to be on track. I was a bit worried that another team might swoop in but hopefully the Arsenal website will confirm the move early this week. Xhaka is primarily a playmaker and not really a defensive minded player and he is not blessed with a lot of energy or movement and Ozil is certainly not a defensive asset. Torriera is going to be required to cover a lot of ground and he will have to be super human to make it that trio an effective ball winning, high energy high pressure midfield. Lucas is going to be a very busy lad next season

  8. I had expected England to beat Sweden but thought Croatia would beat them in the semifinal. But I’m definitely not as confident Croatia would win anymore. They look exhausted after two ET penalty wins. England will have legs. Also defensively Croatia seem more vulnerable, don’t have a DM to shore things up behind Modric and Rakitic and have been porous. The think England does well is defend. Very hard to score against.

    All set piece goals. How does Allardyce feel now!

  9. Also Croatia has a few injuries. England clear favorites at this point to be finalists.

  10. Limestone

    We talked about this the other day and not much else is going on. Douglas costa was impressive in his cameo for Brazil. If you just watched that game it would be hard to understand why Munich let him go and why Juve only started him in 18 of their league games but they must have some good reason. No matter how much money you can spend your team don’t have success if you make poor decisions. Its the same thing with Real Madrid. I think the biggest problem is Costa does not score. Perhaps the other problem is that he only has 1 go to move and it works well for a while as a change of pace in the impact sub role but it’s not as effective at the start of the game against opponents who have watched enough film and are ready for it.

  11. @Limestone Gunner,
    Agree with you that England would appear to be favourites versus Croatia.
    And perhaps France against Belgium.
    Yet I can’t forget the gypsy’s forecast that England will lose to Belgium in the final!
    Time to hedge some bets? 😉

  12. You didn’t offend me Nicky-it was just a shot at how society has changed.

    nicky:
    @Jonnygunner,
    Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend.

  13. On a side note, what’s with the loutish mentality of the British. All that drunkenness and destruction because we got through to the semi’s! What will happen if we actually win the tournament!? Loot the shops, burn down the local schools and hospital’s! I’m sorry, but I didn’t see scene’s of ambulance carnage, or bus shelter destruction in Belgium, France or Croatia and they had the same achievement on the weekend! I’ll be made up as the next man if we win the tournament, but I won’t be destroying property because of it or leaving myself with a sore head the next day.

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