Which is the most disappointing? That England yet again fell in glorious defeat or that in doing so they failed to show any of the style that was expected nearly as much as the medals? The country was a sea of shocked faces come 7.30 but having just watched a penalty shoot out did we really expect any different?
English league football, in the main, is still about pace and power, about resolve and ultimately scoring more goals than the other team. Think Holland in 1996, the first half against Portugal in 2000 and Germany in 2001 and you can see that style of football can get results when it matters. Yet when it comes down to the crunch successive managers have attempted to shoehorn English lads brought up on blood and thunder in to a more measured continental styles of play.
I’m not calling for the naive cheerleading of Keegan and Bobby Moore forbid the likes of ‘Big Sam’ ever get the job, but if England had been more direct, if they’d played along the lines Latics did last season, would we be mourning after another quarter final defeat? I suppose there’s the chance they wouldn’t have got that far in the first place but at least we’d have more to remember the tournament by.
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