Well, it’s a pretty weird World Cup anyway. Can we mark this thing with a star? Just an idea, but is it too late to boycott? Norway made t-shirts. good optics.
for Gareth Southgate England This was another timid and faint step towards Qatar 2022. What is the perfect setting for these fateful quadrennial moments anyway? How about not scoring a goal from open play for close to 500 minutes? How about three defeats in five matches, a 1-0 lead here against Italy? what about land?
It would be hard to at least accuse Southgate’s squad of peaking too early, risking losing momentum, and prematurely roboticing in front of Prince William. Six years into Gareth’s life, it has to be said that this is the most vulnerable, most mysterious this team has ever looked at.
In the end Southgate went to clap England Fans high in the avatars. In turn he was booed, booing that seemed to be puffy and waxy as he walked along clapping again, all alone in his green patch. You turn the wheel and look to the wind. Remember Southgate, who was once The One.
It must be said that Germany on Monday can get ugly.
Is this really something? The players are still good, and the manager has a lot of credit. The only real positive was the way the players kept running. At the final whistle, Judd Bellingham sank into the grass and remained there huddled. Bellingham barely stopped for 90 minutes, there was a strangely exposed midfield who always seemed to spin in too much space.
England found a system here that makes an elegant, artistic and imposing midfielder look like a man being chased around a parking lot by a swarm of bees. But even so, no one gave up, gave up, or seemed to be okay with this. This is the thing that says there is still life.
What about the rest? England was terribly poor in spots. And the poor in a confusing way. On paper, this was a progressive team, presumably picking Southgate’s side, throwing Cardigan’s side away. Eric Dyer in the middle! Bellingham and Declan Rice as a nimble midfield hub. Ken-Foden-Sterling, front-line Pep – who no doubt suffers from Gareth’s envy – could have had. Even the wings look impressively smooth, at least, as a concept, by default.
The San Siro itself was an otherworldly spectacle upon launch, a massive monster spaceship, with its massive robotic legs, and the gigantic expanse of moist September air under its roof made of flying panels. A proper stage, well, what exactly?
This wasn’t just a bad game for England. It was a strange game, with something mummified and mysterious, that played football through a stained piece of glass. Since kick-off, England have been nervous, the team has been playing with a gas station ball, always jumping too high, always swerving too far off the toe, and bouncing around in the wind.
Somehow the players always seemed to be headed the wrong way: for Rice and Bellingham, most of the opening 10 minutes were spent trying hard to turn around. Italia Not great. But in those opening exchanges, the ball seemed softer and happier in their hands, arching in a more elegant parabola between the blue jerseys.
They looked in those moments like England 1.0, old England, England for whom the ball is a temporary ejection that is thrown away as quickly as possible. Raheem Sterling spent one of those nights apparently playing on the rough, volcanic crust of Mars. With 36 minutes to go, he picked up the ball 45 yards from the goal and ran forward, shaking his head, his eyes on the spin, like an impala rushing toward a watering hole, before deciding to hit the ball hard on Kane’s neck. Which was definitely an option.
Only Phil Foden seemed to survive the first half, sniping in space, and seemed to feel good about being in close contact with a bulging leather ball. The difference is strange things. It’s rare to see an entire person afflicted with joint boredom in this way. With an hour to go, the England team hit 14 shots. They had 56 percent of possession and made 88 percent of their passes. It felt like a glitch, like missing data.
They came late in the 67th minute, a blissful moment of saving the match from Giacomo Raspadori’s right toe. Leonardo Bonucci discovered the Raspaduri Path. He picked up the pass mid-stride, saw space, angles and time to shift his weight, then curved a low, hard shot past Nick Pope’s left hand.
England pressed more after that. They made the switch, the only switch, Gareth’s maneuver, and they switched to the back quad. And the thought occurred: Really, still? Is this what you have? Aren’t we looking for another difference? Southgate was never a good tactical guy. He wants control, but doesn’t want to stifle control. More room temperature control, control bother you. Patching between three and four is a very wide brush. Six years have passed so far.
Is this thing done? Southgate is a man of positive vibes, a man of culture, a manager who strives to create a clean and clear space around his team. We are now one match away from the World Cup and two months away. Change can happen quickly in football. It was hard, watching this, knowing where this life would come from.