Is it coming home? Absolutely nobody knows because this is the England national team and you don’t make predictions about the England national team if you care for your life at all. Although, that being said, here is why they suck and will probably finish last in Group D. Yes, behind Scotland.
Your team: England (Euro record: Really? Do you really want to do this to yourselves?)
Record since Euro 2016: 32 wins, 7 draws 10 losses
Looks really really impressive, doesn’t it? Then it hits you that the author has chosen to add international friendlies in order to really spice things up. This means for England, you’ve got something like a decent looking total which, yes, does include a massive 32 wins. But then you consider their clutch moments in tournaments and things really get interesting. This is the same England side that lost 3-1, after AET, to the Netherlands in the Nations League semis.
The same team, with a few changes, lost to both Croatia and then Belgium to finish fourth in the 2018 World Cup. That’s in the past, sure that’s one argument. But then more recently, there’s the 1-0 loss to Denmark and the 2-0 loss to Belgium in the 2020 Nations League, the barely beating Switzerland in the 2019 Nations League and the 2-1 to the Czech Republic in their Euro qualifiers. Ahh yes but a combined scoreline of 37-6 in the same qualifiers plus a combined score of 10-0 over Iceland (2 games) and San Marino, means it’s coming home now, doesn’t it?
The man leading the charge: Gareth Southgate
The godsend from Watford that will lead the greatest team on this planet to not just their first-ever UEFA Euro final but their first-ever win as well. And if the team isn’t good enough, then the manager has to be bad because this is the man who led Middlesbrough to an 8-1 win over Manchester City….and then lead them back to the Championship. Then again how can you blame Southgate when he plays two defensive midfielders against Albania?
They’re still learning football there, so it does make sense playing a double pivot of both Kalvin Philips and Declan Rice while placing Jude Bellingham, Jesse Lingard and Ollie Watkins all on the bench. Negativity and pragmatism does indeed win football games especially when you play Kyle Walker as your inverted right centre-back in a back-three. Who says an England manager isn’t creative or capable of being fluid with formations? So what if he only trots out the back-four against “minor nations” or is only just thinking of playing weird formations. This is England everyone, so anything more than thumping it to the big man is welcome, any sort of tactical plan is actually celebrated and we’re here to clap for it.
We would all love to see him cram Jack Grealish in as a false left-back, playing a front three of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford but that’s never going to happen. And please, we’re all begging you, please stop it with all the right-backs!! No one on this planet needs four right-backs and ten defenders at a knockout tournament. You’ve got less than ten games to play and no amount of justification will ever see anyone on this planet agree with you on picking four hundred right-backs, ten defenders and just five specialist midfielders.
As a former defender, it’s kinda surprising you wouldn’t pick more midfielders, especially when you’ve got one hobbling around on crutches, one who just played 10000 games, one who’s barely 10 years old, another who spent half this season injured and one who just recovered from injury.
Harry Kane: I tried everyone, I really did but there’s literally nothing bad anyone can say about him this year. He placed a certain North London team on his back, tied them there with strings of Son Heung-Min and Gareth Bale before dragging them across the Europa Conference League finish line. You get a pass, England captain, but just remember, anything less than another Golden Boot and you go into the scrap pile.
Raheem Sterling: Soo much to say about ol' Manchester City superstar Raheem Sterling. Bad seasons were had by all with the scheduling affecting many but none more so than Sterling. It seems missing a sitter in a Champions League semi-final hurt him and poor form was his award. Harsh it may be but being dropped by the very manager you were brought in for, playing off the bench and as a bit-part player for most of the season is bad. To make it even worse, it seems like Sterling has disappeared into the void with one goal since February in the league and nothing since October in the Champions League. And yet, few even questioned his presence in the team which says, quite literally everything.
Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish: Really, is this how low we’ve dropped England? Calling a 21-year-old, a 26-year-old Aston Villa captain and a Manchester United forward who has struggled with underlying injuries and should be performing more, superstars? Now Rashford is the only one you could actually make a case for and Sancho…maybe a hundred years down the line after he does it on a cold and rainy day at Stoke but Grealish? Really, Jack Grealish. And here I thought only cultured midfielders who put in-game transforming performances week in, week out should be making the cut.
Phil Foden: What on earth can you say about Phil Foden that hasn’t already been said about a gazillion times, so much so that the man dyed his hair blonde. Why? Apparently, England needs another Gazza but when you look more like the Romanian national team, it seems that his main goal has failed miserably.
But what is so great about Foden? The fact that he scores goals because Nicolas Pepe and Anwar El Ghazi both outscored him while Che Adams, Jesse Lingard, an-injured-since-February Harvey Barnes and an injury-prone Diogo Jota all matched that tally. So what is really so great about Phil Foden, that people keep calling him a generational talent? Because of match-defining performances against Borussia Dortmund and PSG, in a Champions League run that Manchester City eventually lost where Foden did nothing or is there another reason because honestly absolutely nobody sees it. Or is he just living up to their Amazon Prime series, All or nothing?
A generational talent, smerational talent. All that is for nothing if Foden can't really match Kyle Walker's clean sheet record. Now there's a man who can do everything.
What’s new that sucks:
All this talk about Golden Generations and perfect squads might just make all of us puke because we’ve heard you guys say nothing but that for the last two decades. What happened to the last Golden Generation, huh? The one with that Manchester United guy, that other Manchester United guy and that third Manchester United guy also that fourth one plus his brother? And there was Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Bridge, John Terry and David James, need we say more?
Enough with the Golden Generation crap man, because there is no such thing. The team that won Germany’s 2014 World Cup wasn’t their Golden Generation, the team that won France's 2018 World Cup wasn’t their Golden Generation, the team that won Portugal’s 2016 Euros was their Golden Generation and that makes my point. Golden Generations don’t mean anything unless they actually do something with it.
England’s actual Golden Generation was their 1966 World Cup-winning squad with the Charlton brothers, Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Gordon Banks and co. Think about that for a moment and then compare this side to them.
What’s old that sucks:
It’s not coming home, so please please please stop saying that. The song is catchy, we’ll give you that and it’s very very catchy but your best possible chance for it to make it home is if every other team loses their first-choice squad and are forced to play their second. Or even better, if Kyle Walker plays in goal then at least Gareth Southgate’s insane idea behind picking four three right-backs will make some sense.
You may argue but Walker is the only man who has played in goal in the England squad, over the last two years and hasn’t conceded a goal. The man literally is the face of England's staple snacks - not fish and chips but the damn crisps. The perfect side dish for every clean sheet. Even then, the chances of it coming home are iffy, unless the home is Scotland or Belgium or France.
BTW; the song quite literally says "Everyone seems to know the score, They've seen it all before, They just know, They're so sure, That England's gonna throw it away, Gonna blow it away, But I know they can play, Cause I remember.."
What might give you some hope:
This squad is quite literally perfect. That shocked you, didn’t it? How did this writer insult, degrade, hurt and beat us to a pulp before then going on to say, this squad is perfect? Because it is and this is a comparison to England squads of the past and compared to them, this squad is perfect. Their last major tournament squad looks utterly terrible when stacked against this because as far as weaknesses go, England quite literally have no discernible ones.
A lethal, consistent, big game centre-forward? Check. A bonafide proper back-up striker, who actually managed to score goals, for said center-forward? Check. Attackers to cause problems playing either side of said center-forward? Check, check and check. A midfield that has guile, creativity, defensive acumen and a touch of flair? Checkity check. A defense capable of keeping clean-sheets? A suspicious check. Good goalkeepers? Umm, check. Actual tactics? Check.