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Mails: Not fooled by Rashford or England…

For the weekend Mailbox, Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com Not taken in I cannot but agree with the views that the rating of England’s performances & potential based on the two recent friendlies is going slightly over the top. Firstly, Southgate seems a very likable chap, but he is not remotely near the top echelon of coaches, as his time as U21 manager showed (although to be fair he wasn’t the first Englishman to fail at that level’s finals despite having on paper the strongest squad). England are about to face Tunisia & Panama in their first two games, for a top nation this would leave the Belgium game as a free hit. Panama represent quite possibly the weakest opponent (Kuwait in ’82 maybe) England will have faced at a World Cup since the humiliation to the USA in 1950. What I therefore find odd, given that England do have dynamic, young attacking talent, is Southgate’s desire to set up with a formation that crams in an extra centre back – especially strange as not one of them is world class. You could argue that for all that attacking talent they never seem truly fluid and often decent combinations and decision making in the final third are sadly lacking (I think many must have imagined how many clear chances were created in those two friendlies). However, to me this smacks of a coach who knows he doesn’t have the acumen to instill this, so falls back on the conservative option. Which given the level of opponent in the first two games seems a shame…..look back through England’s World Cup history, they’ve never doled out a walloping to a minnow / weakest side in the group, and don’t expect that to change this time. The only possible benefit I can see of this formation / tactical approach is if England were to get through to the quarters (though one of Colombia, Poland or Senegal will not be terrified of taking a shoeing from England and will happily engage in a tight, nervy affair) then this approach might best prepare them for the anticipated pairing against either Brazil or Germany. As, for all that they have superior squads and better coaches than us, these matches are often tight affairs settled by goals at set pieces (think both of those nation’s quarter-final wins 4 years ago, Puyol nodding the only goal for Spain v Germany in the 2010 semi), if indeed there are any goals. Make no mistake, should England get to the semi-final having bested by whatever method, style or circumstance Brazil or Germany, it will represent the national team’s greatest ever result in a finals knock-out match on foreign soil, and even the harshest critic could not knock that. Having said that I’m far from convinced in England’s ability to get there or be able to match those countries confidence and mental strength should they face them. Cheers, Bobby.   …I like Rashford as a player, but the reaction to his performance was ridiculous. The pre-world cup good vibes will quickly turn into ‘Southgate’s a moron for not playing Rashford/ bringing him on as soon as we go a goal down’. The pundits will continue going mad every time Rashford takes it round someone on the half way line. The pressure to play Rashford will build on Southgate at every press conference. Last night, Rashford created no chances, made no key passes, took one (great) shot from 25 yards. He did fine, he’s a young player and he’s getting better. But taking it round someone does not equate with doing something useful. Until Rashford can consistently follow running with the ball up with a good pass/ good shot, he should not start for England. See also Ross Barkley. This season, Sterling’s got 23 goals, 12 assists, 1.5 key passes per game. His decision making has improved no end. At the moment, he’s the better choice. And we all need to be nicer to Dele Alli… what an assist! Yours, Jonathan AFC   England expectation I’ve not mailed in a while but I thought with the World Cup less than 160 hours away (I’m not counting… honest!) I would look back at how well (or badly) we have performed at previous tournaments versus the physical expectation (based on rankings) and personal expectation driven by media hype…. 1994 – Ranked 15 – Did Not Qualify 1996 – Ranked 24 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Group Stage* – Result = Semifinals (* we did have home advantage) 1998 – Ranked 5 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Quarterfinals – Result = Last 16 2000 – Ranked 12 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Group Stage 2002 – Ranked 12 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Quarterfinals 2004 – Ranked 13 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Quarterfinals 2006 – Ranked 10 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Quarterfinals 2008 – Ranked 9 – Did Not Qualify 2010 – Ranked 6 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Quarterfinals – Result = Last 16 2012 – Ranked 10 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Quarterfinals 2014 – Ranked 10 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Group Stage 2016 – Ranked 11 – Expectation Based on Ranking = Last 16 – Result = Last 16 Looking at that we were obviously disappointed in ’94 and ’08 but the only real stand out failures were ’00 and ’14 – the rest of the results were either a slight over achievement (by one round) or slight under achievement (by 1 round) but more or less about what was expected, except those head summer days of 1996. Looking to the coming tournament we are currently ranked 12th and so a last 16 appearance is par – with a realistic chance of a quarterfinal appearance. Given last nights performance, providing we don’t have a Phil Neville Euro 2000 moment I think its fair to say we should live up to expectation Good luck boys! Ben B – Manchester (What are the odds on losing on penalties?)   And so it goes on And so it is, as always with the English media. Step 1) England are terrible Step 2) Stir sh1t with the players and report on ridiculous/slanderous stories Step 3) Watch a few warm up games and here come the 3 Lions. They’re going to win. They’re the best team...

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Published By: Fottball 365 - Friday, 8 June







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