Gareth Southgate, tactical genius

Don’t you know it’s all a ruse? A major play? Arguably the greatest tactic Gareth Southgate has deployed in his six years of managing England? What do you mean that’s not saying much? How dare you. He got us to a World Cup semi-final and European final, don’t you know! Yes. We did. What do you mean the draws were favourable? Anyway. Do you think Jack Grealish will start in Qatar? No, no, it's not the time, let's stop waffling on.
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He ain’t going anywhere, let’s get that straight. For now, at least. The defeat to Italy on Friday may have dampened the spirits even more so ahead of the World Cup, but Southgate will very much be in charge for that tournament, and maybe even beyond.
"I think I'm the right person to take the team into the tournament,” he told the Sunday papers. “I think it's more stable that way, without a doubt.”
And so, only from the lowest of lows can the highs feel oh so sweet, and lowering the expectations of England fans is not necessarily a bad thing heading into a major tournament.
Sure, there are very real concerns that the state of play is so bad that a group exit, or more likely a last-16 loss to Senegal, is on the cards, but tournament football is a funny old game, and England still have the players to go a long way, regardless of the tactics and formations thrown at them.
That said, let’s see how tonight plays out. A meeting with Germany awaits, and so there’s still another 90 minutes for England fans to sink into a greater depression before a World Cup few remain optimistic about.
Don’t worry, though, it’s all part of the plan.
"There's no need to panic,” Raheem Sterling added. “These results are bad but we've got good things to come.”
See? Good things come to those who wait.

History for the WSL

Talk and hype turned into numbers on the weekend, with the Women’s Super League boasting an attendance record at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday to prove the Euro 2022 after-effect is truly in full swing.
A record-breaking 47,367-strong crowd were at Arsenal to watch their side dismantle rivals Tottenham 4-0, and a Vivianne Miedema double was a perfect reminder that it is not just the English crop of players who can dazzle such audiences.
"The game is the best advertisement there can be for people coming," Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall said afterwards.
"That's what it's about, for people to come here and feel proud of the team, of the players and wanting to come here to support. We hope many of them come back, bring a friend and then it's a sell-out.
"It's not only the work of the Euros, which was such a big success. The club are investing a lot of time, commitment and energy into that. It's important that you don't leave things to chance and you're trying to build the game, increase the revenue and increase the sporting success.
"It's very special for all of us. That's what we work for, being on stages like this and playing in front of crowds like that."
Long may it continue, with the scenes at Anfield and beyond on Sunday great to see as well.

Social football

A bunch of social media folk played a football game on Sunday. If that didn’t make us feel old already, then reading and watching about some chap called “Speed” taking out “KSI” after just 16 seconds certainly did…
Still, though, they had fun, and going by the numbers, these guys evidently have an army of followers.
Also, they raised more than £1m for charity, with Mark Goldbridge suited up for the occasion too. You just can’t teach that type of football…


Oh. Oh my. Oh me oh my.
This is just glorious.


England tonight, against Germany in the Nations League. Italy play Hungary too, and Gibraltar face Georgia if you’d prefer to watch that.
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