England men could never play with such crazy composure in a major semi-final

·18-min read
The England scoreboard Credit: PA Images
The England scoreboard Credit: PA Images

It’s coming home. Or it might not be but how good is this England women’s side. Take note, Gareth Southgate, that’s how you play a semi-final.

Send your views to theeditor@football365.com

 

England’s men could never, ever do this
For the record I rather enjoyed the Norway game but beating the world number 2 side like this. It’s beautiful to watch but without expectation. When the men play well it’s a pressure cooker moment, a release. But this is the beautiful game. No expectation but the interplay is so much better than I see with the men. France and Germany will be worried against a home crowd. 66 again guys, fingers crossed.

Maybe it’s time to bin the men. Arsene Wenger was looking at maximising FIFA revenue. You don’t need a men’s World Cup every two years, the women will pick up the slack, means a tournament every summer. Any English man or woman posting about their Club in the mailbox this morning needs to take a long hard look at themselves. Could you see the men doing this to Brazil in a tournament? Don’t think so. Well done England!
Rob, Gravesend

 

…Why do I think women’s International football is better than men’s (or simply just more exciting to watch), or am I simply talking about the English side?

I am, aren’t I?
Sort it out Southgate.
Mike D

 

…For some unknown reason, mostly because of how little I knew about women’s football before this summer I put a bet on for England to win 4 nil, it was a “premonition” that came to me late Tuesday night. As I heard and read more about the game I found out that Sweden are ranked 2nd in the world, have only been beaten by England once and all sorts of other things that made my bet sound crazy. What was crazy was the way they played that second half in a completely un-English type of way, crazily composed, crazy finishing but most of all that extremely crazy back-heeled finish!

The post match celebrations are great, seeing them loving the moment & enjoying it with the fans, if you can’t enjoy moments like that then you shouldn’t be involved in the game. I’m not gonna jump on the bandwagon completely and claim to be super excited about Sunday’s final but I might just put on a cheeky bet & I’ll definitely be watching & cheering on the girls.
Marcel G, England

 

A Man City player under the radar
I was going to write in last week with a view that I was not entirely comfortable with the idea of selling both Sterling and Jesus, proven PL goal scorers, and replacing them with ones that were the opposite (I’m still not). After all, we can all name players who have been excellent prospects elsewhere but, for whatever reason, just don’t cut it in the Prem. We all know about Haaland’s potential, but it seems to me that one of City’s other signings is really going under the radar.

I give you Julian Alvarez.

A player Tim Vickery describes as “The best thing to come out of Argentinian football for some time”.

If you go to the MCFC official site and then Videos/Men’s team/page 4/’Julian Alvarez’s best goals for River Plate’, you’ll get some idea as to why he’s rated as one of the best South American prospects around today. Scores with both feet and in the air despite ‘only’ being 5’ 8”. Moreover, the boy dearly loves a screamer from outside, or from the edge of the box.

I know, I know. Anybody can put a ‘highlights reel’ together that makes a player look great. And, cliché alert, just because he can do it for River Plate doesn’t mean he’ll do it against (Insert name of Northern team here) on a cold Tuesday night, but there is a reason why Aguero and Messi both rate this kid very, very highly. But if your first reaction (Liverpool and Man Utd bias aside) is “Meh” rather than “Wow”, then I think we’re watching different games.

What I also find interesting is that when City signed him six months ago, Guardiola said “He could be with us right now, but we have so many players in that position so the best for him is to stay in River Plate.” (He can play as winger or CF). Six months later, Sterling and Jesus are sold and Haaland and Alvarez are brought in. In addition, City sporting director Ferran Soriano said “We have had many offers from clubs to loan Julian Alvarez – but he is not going to leave. He will do the pre-season with us, and I think he will stay.”

I’m not even close to trying to claim that he is the new Messiah nor, conversely, that he’s just a naughty boy. That said, £14 million for a 22-year-old quality prospect? Sounds to me like the club had a plan. That is, Haaland for Sterling and Alvarez for Jesus.

Like I said. Under the radar, I think.

Oh, and just a quick one for Chelsea and Arsenal fans.

Sorry to see the back of Sterling, Jesus and Zinchenko. All have given their best for City, and I don’t expect them to do any different for their new clubs. Arsenal are the winners here though I think. There’s a reason Gab was playing up front for the Brazilian national team as a teenager. If he gets the service, I personally have no doubt he’ll bang them in for you. As for Zinchenko, it will be interesting to see where Arteta plays him. He’s a midfielder (where he plays for Ukraine) by choice, but Pep had him at the back. Gives 100% in every game and I would be surprised if he doesn’t quickly become a Gooner favourite.

Not so sure about Sterling at Chelsea. I’ve always thought that he’s one of those forwards that, if they have a second or two to think, they fluff the shot. Do it on instinct on the other hand, and it’s in the back of the net. Quality player but what system will Tuchel look to play him in? What service will he get?
Mark (Oh, and genuine question. Can ANYONE explain why some fees are ‘undisclosed’? How does that benefit either a player or a club? I don’t get it.) MCFC

 

Some Manchester United perspective
I wasn’t going to bite, but my earlier resolve has been tested by F365’s twitter feed pushing this email again, so thanks to who ever looks after the twitter feed, I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in 30 mins which I’m probably going to be late for.

Firstly, no it doesn’t sound familiar. Unless we’re comparing every team that has had a poor run of form then decided to continually swap managers to Barcelona circa 1988.

Oh that’s pretty much the end of the familarities? Something about a CB coming into the midfield, which, if you’ve been watching United a lot over the last two seasons, Maguire tries to do all the time, even when’s been playing crap his distribution is fairly consistent.

Annnnd that’s it.

Honestly, Super Sancho is the kind of fan that gives United fans (myself included) a bad name – completely and utterly deluded. United have looked more competent during pre-season at times but it’s still pre-season. And we collapsed against Villa way before we made a lot of subs because we couldn’t control a game – sound familiar?

I’m very hopeful about ETH but until we get to the season just smile and nod to a couple of things looking better (pressing and more aggressive, slightly more fluid attacking play) and cross your fingers we sign someone who can control the game from deep otherwise it’s going to be another long season and I don’t want more people laughing at us because a couple of numpties like SS stoked the fires cause we beat Liverpool’s 3rd team 4-0.
Chris, (this stomach ache better not be serious) Stourbridge

 

Laughing at Barcelona and Chelsea
It’s a bit of supreme Karma to watch Chelsea and Barca battle it out over the same players.

Chelsea, the once almighty oligarch run team that could afford to buy up so many players, young players, they had as many as 41 out on loan in the 2018/19 season and 37 last season. Now struggling to get rid of the overpaid ‘deadwood’ while not being able to buy in the players needed.

Barca, who desperately wanted to beat the nouveau riche PSG and Man City to show they are still a player and pay £75m and £360,000 a week for Frenkie de Jong, only to ask him to defer his wages and now want to boot him out to buy the new favoured sons.

In Barca’s case, even after mortgaging their future by giving away 25% of their TV revenues for 25 years and 49% of their promotional licensing rights (not clear how much of these has been closed) it’s not clear how they are managing to fit the new acquisitions into their squad and meet La Liga rules.

It’s not that they are the best players or right players for the team but who cares, eh, as long as they can pretend to be a player, swaggering down the street, bearing our a former big player in Chelsea.

Meanwhile Nouveau Chelsea are struggling to close deals, even being in such close proximity to London’s party central, playing awful pre-season football, following the post oligarch fall out. Can’t seem to get the right replacement CBs having got rid of so many out of their loan pool from prior years. Just shows that all that precious praise for being such great talent purveyors was a bit of a red herring, especially as they gave so many away without realizing how good they were (de Bruyne, Salah, etc.) Even doing a Man Utd, buying in an overpriced ‘star’ only to have to offload cheaply a year later.

It’s almost as if both teams have looked at all the worst recruitment practices and decided to use them to run their business.
Paul McDevitt

 

You know what will happen at Hammers…
Prediction:

Scamacca starts like a train. Scores 7 in his first 9 games, including a scissor kick winner at Stamford Bridge. Everyone reconfigures their fantasy league sides to incorporate him. David Moyes proclaims he’s worth “£150 million in today’s market.”

He misses a 92nd minute penalty in a surprise 2-1 loss to Everton. It’s a panenka. He sells it to Pickford. but his execution’s lacking and he clips it clean over the bar. He doesn’t score again before the season breaks for the World Cup, although he is sent off against Southampton for dropping his chin and butting heads with Jan Bednerak. The second half of the season fails to reignite – he loses his place to Mikhail Antonio. David Moyes says ‘He’s a young boy. People forget that. He’s got all the talent in the world.’. He reacts angrily to being substituted early in the second half against Leeds. His scissor kick comes second in Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season. In June 2023, he joins Roma on a season long loan, with an option to buy for £32 million.

Mark my words.

All the best,
Mystic Ben

New West Ham signing Gianluca Scamacca Credit: PA Images
New West Ham signing Gianluca Scamacca Credit: PA Images

 

While we’re talking rule changes…
Just writing in response to the interesting article about potential rule changes that would serve to refine some of the more frustrating aspects that we see in the modern game.

Although there will clearly be a range of views regarding the potential penalty changes outlined, I hope the majority will support the central premise that the punishment should fit the crime – by having a system that currently disproportionately rewards players for taking a tumble for the most innocuous of contacts encourages attackers to look for this more and more (translation = more diving).

I would support any move that discourages diving and in fact punishes it more heavily – the threat of a yellow card does not appear to be enough as things stand and I think there perhaps should be a panel that can review all the games in a division and decide whether a player justifies sanction for simulation seeking a penalty (perhaps overkill if applied across the entire pitch) … where they build up a certain amount of sanctions of this type a player will be barred from playing for a period.

Carrying on the theme about not rewarding cheats, I must say I fully agree with suggestion number 5 about having a set clock run in a similar fashion as seen in basketball (only runs while the ball is in play). This would pull the carpet out from teams who clearly time waste (see Atletico CL approach) and will hopefully reduce the amount of time we see players rolling around on the floor as if they have been shot.

So why won’t it happen?

There is a broad desire to have a standardisation of rules across all levels of football – applying the above would make that far more challenging.

We also need to recognise that FIFA rule changes are to be applied globally – this is where there may be some cultural hurdles to overcome. I am being very broad brush in my next statement but, for example, Latin American football supporters do not appear to frown upon the dark arts of simulation.. and in some ways celebrates it (beating the system, so to speak).

The media has a key role to play here – they need to call out dis-honest behaviour far more loudly than they currently do …. players deemed to be guilty of such behaviour need to feel the pressure in this regard and recognise that along with the bumper pay packets comes a level of responsibility for setting a suitable example particularly to youth football (who idolise and seek to emulate them when they play).

As a Liverpool fan I want my team succeed but that is not at any cost … If we win a game that I’m watching on TV via getting a dodgy penalty when someone has pressed the button on Salah’s shoulder that makes his legs not work, it feels like I’m sat there ‘celebrating’ a victory whilst Salah is having a pi$$ on my carpet and maintaining eye contact.

Tainted.

I whole-heartedly support any changes to the rules / adjudication that means that cheats don’t prosper.
Sparky, LFC
(cheating also includes not respecting FFP rules … it would look hypocritical to address the above under the banner of ‘fairness’ whilst letting certain clubs distort the system)

 

…Good list of rule changes, I mostly agreed with them but let me submit another: Allow referees to issue retrospective yellow cards for diving based on VAR overturning initial calls. As it currently stands if a player dives to win a foul or especially a penalty, the only downside is that the call can be overturned by VAR. If a player knew that the ref also had the ability to issue a yellow card, I feel like they would be less likely to easily go down, especially if they have already been booked.

I feel in general, not enough players are booked for clear dives, but I understand that referees who only see incidents once at full speed may be hesitant to book players unless they are completely certain. If a ref can get repeated views in slow motion, this makes it much easier for them to be sure enough to book a player. Can you imagine how fun it would be if new the end of a class match a player goes down for a soft penalty, only for it to be overturned and then also be sent off for their second booking?
Ryan, MCFC (Don’t I stand the outrage over awarding penalties for fouls in the far corners of the box. If you are dumb enough to commit a foul there, you deserve a penalty.)

 

…First of all, ‘whoever wins the penalty takes the penalty’ will never be introduced by the Premier League because of Harry Kane’s daft numbers and his inevitable assault on Alan Shearer’s goals tally.

Second, you may remember reading this and rejecting it twice before, but I vow to continue writing it until a) you publish it or b) you give me fair notice that you’ll mark me as spam the next time I waste your time with such a ridiculous proposal. What can I say, I’m a man on a mission: correcting the abomination that is the handball rule. Perhaps you will be appeased by my addition of #3 below.

Simply put:
1. Hand to ball is always handball.
2. If the time between the ball striking a hand or arm and the previous touch of the ball from another player is not sufficient to reasonably allow the hand to be moved away, and the hand does not move toward the ball, and the arm is not raised above the shoulder, then no handball. Otherwise, ball to hand is handball.
3. If ball to hand denies a clear goalscoring opportunity but it is not adjudged to be handball by #2 above, the attacking team is awarded an indirect free kick.

The biggest advantage to this change is that it eliminates the need to contemplate what an arm in an “unnatural position” really looks like.

Another advantage is that the inherent subjectivity of #2 means that in the event that the on-field referee sees the ball hit the hand, VAR may not intervene. Not to mention that if the man in the middle does not see the infringement, they have to watch the replay at full speed! No slowing down the tape to make everything look more egregious! (I may actually find a semblance of joy in VAR if all replays were watched at full speed – you’d think a dozen angles of the same live action would be sufficient for a trained professional to make the call, and much more quickly.)

The advantage to #3 is self-evident.
Danny, Austin Spurs

 

Let’s talk heading
I found Chris letter interesting because this is a topic I’ve been researching for a while now.

This issue (chronic traumatic encephalopothy) seems to have started in US sports some time ago. The movie concussion starring will smith does a reasonable job but it doesn’t give you the science quite as much as it should.

The science is pretty conclusive too. Repeated blows to the head causes CTE. The symptoms of CTE are very similar to dementia. Memory loss. Confusion. Aggression. Loss of chronology. And as if that isn’t scary enough it also causes: Depression, anxiety, searing headaches which no painkillers can resolve, extreme insomnia, Parkinson’s symptoms, violent behaviour and in a reasonable number of cases suicide.

The strong blows to the head, while a problem, aren’t THE problem because a strong blow tends to knock you out and stop any more blows. It’s thought CTE is actually caused by repeated softer blows in succession as people don’t stop the activity or seek treatment after softer blows.

It’s an even higher risk for kids because their brain haven’t developed. The smaller brain sits inside a skull which is 90% the size of an adults, all that empty space means the brain has more room to move around and smash into the interior of the skull causing trauma. Adult brains are bigger and leave less room for the brain to gather force – though in activities where blows are common, like boxing it’s a very high risk. Muhammed Ali was said to have CTE as he developed Parkinson’s symptoms very early in his late 30s and typically they don’t develop until you’re 60+.

Should young kids head the ball? Ask yourself a question. Which is more important – heading a ball in a game of no significance or being free of all of the above?

Will the kids definitely get it? No way to know, you can’t diagnose cte until someone dies from it and you can autopsy their brain. They probably won’t die of skin cancer but we put sun cream on kids. They probably won’t die of polio but (a responsible parent) give them vaccine for it. They probably won’t die of lung cancer but we don’t allow them to smoke.

It’s a personal choice but if recommend before making a quick decision do some thorough research on CTE. As a person who used to compete in full contact Tae Kwon do I have to admit it definitely makes me feel differently about my activity when I was younger.
Lee

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