Queen Mary claimed that Calais would be found engraved upon her heart and for most England football fans, excerpts from the 57 years of hurt since 1966, are engraved upon our psyche. Losing in the world cup is as much a national obsession as the weather and the monarchy. They are there to be grumbled about.
But last night I didn’t get the frustration I had from previous losses (including the loss in the Euro Finals). Previous losses have exposed inadequacies in the England team which suggested we were not ready to win. This England side looked more than ready to win, they attacked the French with eagerness , undaunted by the threat of counter attacks (which were to be their undoing).
Not only did our national team look the equal of the World champions, for large parts of the match they looked their betters. Griezmann may have won France the game , Giroud (laughably) awarded man of the match but the undoubted performance of the night came from Bukayo Saka. Along with Jude Bellingham , he has shown a new way for England to play – it is truly exciting.
Our manager, Gareth Southgate has, since the final whistle , said he will be reviewing whether he carries on. Few people will call for his resignation and many, me included, will ask him to stay. He is precisely the manager we need, not just for 2026 but for longer.
A match worthy to be the world cup final
France are worthily installed as favorite to win. The sentimental vote will be for Lionel Messi’s Argentina (and this would mean more for Argentina than from France for whom world cup success seems a matter of course)
But had the cards fallen a different way and England won, I am quite sure they would have become the new favorites.
We saw the best two of the five remaining teams and unlike Brazil, Netherlands and Portugal, who went out in a dull fashion, we exited the tournament in a blaze .
Unfortunately the blaze that will be remembered will be Harry Kane’s blaze over the bar which was almost as bad a kick as the famous miss from Gareth Southgate all those years ago.
This game was the best of the tournament and would have been a worthy world cup final.
It was a shame the referee had a bad game and unfortunate that England got the majority of the bad decisions. These things don’t even themselves out, this is not a league but a one-off.
Luckily, most of this team will have more tournaments to show they are as good as we think they are and we cannot dwell on the unaccountable decision not to pull the game back and cancel the first goal or award Kane a first half penalty.
Ironically this was the game when we lost not on penalties but because of a penalty miss. But had we finished the game 2-2, would we have won the extra time or what followed?
I am thankful that we did not lose in those ways!
We will have to watch the semi-finals and the final as observers. But let’s consider England as an elite team that is undoubtedly one of the most exciting in the world.
It would be so much worse to support Germany, Spain or Belgium. We haven’t been able to say that for a very long time!
As Yeovil languish at the bottom of the National Conference, my national side reminds me of what it’s like to be proud to be a fan!
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