Tournament football is a strange beast. I’m no expert but I’ve been watching it long enough to know this much: 🧵 #ENGGER #England
1. Pre-tournament form, reputations and hype mean precisely fuck all once proceedings kick off. c.f. defending world champions France had the likes of Henry, Trezeguet and a (half fit) Zidane in 2002 - and they still went out without scoring a single goal.
2. Group stage form means jack shit too. How many times have we seen teams look like world beaters (cf the Dutch in Euro 2020) only to go out with a whimper in the knockout stages?
3. Logistics and weather, fair or foul, can be your greatest friend/enemy. Pity the team that was in pole position, then concedes a late equalizer that changes the entire complexion of the group, and ends up flying across half the host country for a quarter final.
4. There are always wild cards that cannot be accounted for. Think the emergence of Schillaci in 1990, the Koreans playing out of their skin in 2002, Lampard's ghost goal in 2010.
So to Gareth. Have #eng been insipid, uninspired? Yes. Is he too cautious, tactically limited? Oh yes. Are omissions like TAA/Maddison bordering on bizarre? Yeahhh. Do they lack a midfielder who can pull the strings like De Jong or Jorginho, which can prove fatal? Very much so.
BUT do I still believe that Gareth will come good in the end? Yes. He has deserved credit in the bank for his achievements and the way he made England fans believe again. He will always be inherently a cautious coach, but as he says: judge me after Qatar.
There are a multiplicity of factors that determine how well a team plays: the mood in the camp, media coverage, family life, how well the host country’s fans take to them etc.
55 more days before Iran, and literally anything can happen before then. Kane might break his leg (dear God please no). Rashford could remember how to shoot again. Brazil might decide to emulate the Spanish ladies and go on strike.
So I guess what I’m really trying to say is: everyone CTFD and leave the England boys alone. Whether triumph or disaster await, the die has been cast. But one thing is for sure: whatever the outcome of #Qatar2022, the end of the age of Gareth is nigh.

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