TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES
England gonna England
So what do we take from that? Those final 90 minutes for England ahead of the World Cup.
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Do England’s fans take solace from the comeback? Do they bemoan the fact they trailed 2-0 in the first place? Do we keep asking questions to avoid greater talking points? Maybe?
More than anything, England’s 3-3 draw with Germany last night was a reminder that football is a funny old game. You can get a dire 45 minutes, one that will have some out there switching off, and then you’ll get six goals in the second half. You’ll get one side leading 2-0 then trailing 3-2. You’ll get jeers and then cheers from the crowd, and in England’s case you’ll get despair then joy then deflation within the space of just 10 minutes.
This was not knockout football, but given the World Cup is just around the corner, it showed us how fickle international football can be, with two and four-year cycles set to be defined by matches this winter that could easily go either way.
Of course, things can be done to improve such odds, and now Gareth Southgate must somehow ignore the noise and zero in on the task at hand, picking a squad he believes capable of winning the World Cup and then selecting a team out of that.
Naturally, however, England’s team selection is something that is never going to get nationwide acceptance, with only one person’s XI truly mattering despite the fact fans will making their own in the next couple of months.
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Most will settle on a few certain starters, with Jude Bellingham’s performances against Germany and Italy making him an essential for England in Qatar, but it is difficult to shake the sense that the vitriol over Harry Maguire’s presence, the divisive debate over Trent Alexander-Arnold, and probably Jack Grealish too, is all going to spill over into a toxic World Cup experience for all – and particularly the Manchester United captain.
He is going to make the squad, bar injury, and is likely to start too. If he was backed for the next two months, it would benefit everyone involved, but sometimes more joy is taken from misery, and football fans love a scapegoat.
Yeah, we’re a bit sceptical about how this will all play out.
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Funny old game
For a second reminder that international football is a funny old game: see below.
Hungary 0-2 Italy, sending the Italians in the Nations League Finals next year.
That’s the Euro 2020 (2021) winners, the nation who then failed to reach the World Cup despite 13 European teams qualifying for Qatar in 2022, now making the final four of a continental competition that will be played out in 2023.
They’ve joined Croatia and the Netherlands, and there’s a tasty match between Portugal and Spain tonight which will ultimately complete the line-up. Portugal hold a two-point advantage over Spain in Group A2, meaning it’s winner-takes-all, although Portugal could make do with a draw.
Hell and high water
Previous editions of the Warm-Up have covered managerial departures and arrivals at Watford, with startling regularity too, and so here we go again after the Hornets moved to 18 permanent bosses in the space of 10 years yesterday.
Amid the alarming economic crisis grappling this country, we appear to have truly found ourselves in a place worse than hell or high water, according to Watford’s owners the Pozzo family at least, as they had declared in the summer when hiring Rob Edwards that they would be supporting him “come hell or high water,” adding: “We believe that he will deliver what we all want – sustained and successful Premier League football.”
Well, it turns out that faith lasted all of 11 matches, with 14 points from their opening 10 Championship games seemingly not good enough for a club relegated from the Premier League last year. Watford had believed Edwards proved his worth when steering Forest Green to League One, but suddenly that lack of top-tier experience turns out to be a factor against him.
Their next manager for the month is Slaven Bilic, the former West Ham and West Brom manager.
“We have secured the services of an experienced coach who has recent experience of promotion to the Premier League,” owner Gino Pozzo said.
Was… that not deemed important in the summer?
IN THE CHANNELS
We missed this, so in case you missed this, here’s Santos’ UNDER-THIRTEENS tearing it up.
Happy 46th birthday Francesco Totti – you were very good at football.
A load of games on tonight, including Portugal v Spain. Republic of Ireland and Scotland are both in action too. Among the myriad friendlies, Uzbekistan take on Costa Rica.
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