England have lost a World Cup match. Get over it!
The defeat served to quell the disproportionate euphoria and expectation that followed putting six past Panama. No bad thing.
I am now starting to wonder if England ever really wanted to win against Belgium.
Manager Gareth Southgate made all the right noises before the match about looking for a victory.
But did his actions match his words?
Consider this – is putting out a team of reserves the act of a man who really thought it vital that we win?
And when England went a goal down did he ask skipper and current leading scorer Kane to warm up and go on? No!
Not the actions of someone who was totally committed to the idea of winning, I suggest.
So am I saying England “threw” the match?
No, that would be disrespectful to both Southgate and the Belgians and sound like a contrived and poor excuse for the defeat.
But what I am saying is that I think that resting the best players, giving others a chance and ensuring that the biggest talents avoided injury were each viewed as more important than winning.
Belgium’s second string beat England’s second string. They changed nine players compared with England’s eight. We learned little about the ambitions of either team.
The goal was decent and was scored by a player who at one time was thought might have been eligible to wear an England shirt. As it transpired, Adnan Januzaj wasn’t eligible.
When Januzaj emerged at Man U he looked the canine’s testicles (dog’s b*llocks) and several other nations expressed an interest in him – namely Albania, Serbia, Kosovo and Turkey.
He obviously wanted to join prospective World Cup winners, so Belgium got the nod.
Within the next few weeks we will see if he made the right choice.
On paper, where the game isn’t played, of course, the Belgians have a very strong squad.
If England do go far in the tournament they may be grateful that they met them in the group stage ahead of the knockout phase.
My fear is that because favourites Germany are out, the teams remaining may relax a tad.
I confess I did take comfort from the holders’ departure. This was because they had won the World Cup so often in recent times it was difficult to imagine anyone else having a chance.
In the ’70s a lot of club football fans had an “anyone but Liverpool” mentality such was the Merseysiders’ success rate. This developed into “anyone but Man U” and may be about to become an “anyone but Man City” thing. Lord knows how the Scots must feel about Celtic!
Similarly, my pleasure at Germany’s exit was an “anyone but Germany” sentiment.
Now after all that “will we meet Brazil or Germany in the quarter-finals?” hoo ha England have the more immediate problem of facing Colombia in the last 16.
Previously, I had stated that the World Cup would start for England last Thursday (early Friday, Thai time). I was wrong.
It starts in earnest on Tuesday. Make that early Wednesday in Thailand.
I don’t intend to dismiss the Colombians – even if they have never beaten England. They will probably feel it’s a good time to start.
Up front England’s opponents possess a real threat in players like Falcao and Rodriguez. The latter won the Golden Boot in Brazil four years ago, though he may be out injured for this game.
If you are thinking that Falcao couldn’t hit a bovine’s derrière with a stringed instrument (cow’s arse with a banjo) when he played for Man U and Chelsea, I would agree. Let’s hope he retains that “form“.
England have lost one game. It’s not the end of the World (Cup). Well, not yet, anyway!
By Dave Buckley