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Comments Off on Experts 12 July 2018

Oh God, the football ‘experts’ are all over the media again, dissecting England’s defeat to Croatia. You see, they know better than the manager, his team and of course the players. They have all the answers. What a shame they didn’t mention it all to Gareth Southgate before the game.

The best one I have read so far concerns our tactics and how they weren’t changed as the match wore on. As Croatia began to dominate, Southgate did nothing. If only he had changed things, they might have turned out different. Yes, of course they would.

Opinions are like arseholes: everyone’s got one. And here’s mine. England were as good as they could have been. The manager did the best he could possibly have done with the available resources. Looking at our bench, there was no midfield game-changer. When the admirable Jordan Henderson tired, his replacement Eric Dier was more or less identical. With Ashley Young out on his feet and so much Croatia play coming down his side, the appearance of Danny Rose was obvious. We could, perhaps, query the substitution of Raheem Sterling who, I felt, ran Croatia ragged in the first half but we don’t know for sure whether anything would have turned out better.

This debate about tactics by people who know little about football is baffling. It is not a simple matter of having a quick word with, say, Jesse Lingard and telling him to be as good as Luka Modrich. It is a simple matter of doing the best with what’s available to you. We know that Southgate could have switched to 4-4-2, or brought on someone else instead of Vardy but the idea that tactics cost us the game is nonsense.

The truth is that Croatia had more top players than we did. We had, and have, no one like Modric who is a world class midfield performer. Rakatic, too, is world class, or close to it. Only Kane in the England squad is world class and if his supply line is from players who aren’t, through no fault of their own, there is only one likely outcome.

Generally, I am in favour of experts, only real ones, not self-proclaimed media experts. To say that Southgate somehow declined to change tactics is, as we say in football, absolute bollocks. Like his players, Southgate left nothing out there.

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