Harry Maguire has only gone and said England believe they can win the Human Rights World Cup, which is not particularly English of our beloved Slabhead. This level of confidence heading into a quarter-final with France will feel uncomfortable for anyone born between Berwick and Penzance. England may be a proud sporting nation, but with a collective pride built on pessimism.
“There’s a belief that we’ve got to win this tournament,” Maguire roared. “Of course we know how tough it is going to be, [but] there are probably five or six teams with the same belief and we’re one of them.” Ranking England in the top six of the eight teams left? That’s not the Bulldog spirit. English sport is about Graeme Hick being repeatedly recalled in hope, Derek Redmond limping over the line in Barcelona and accepting penalty shootouts are not for us. This change in mindset brought about by Bazball and defeating Senegal 3-0 is a concerning trend that only defeats can set right.
The Manchester United defender seems to think having some of the world’s best players in the likes of Phil Foden, Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham is a reason to be confident. Wrong! We have been here before with Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne and Mark Wright. They did their job by being plucky at Italia ’90 and losing in a penalty shootout against West Germany. At Euro ‘96, Alan Shearer replaced Lineker and Gareth Southgate slotted in seamlessly with the same end result.
Now the England manager, Southgate knows the pain of defeat but, more importantly, England’s plucky place in the world’s game. The defending champions appear able and willing to put England back in their place on Saturday night. Could the best footballer on earth, Kylian Mbappé, make Maguire fall down face-first in a pile of his own words? Trying to win the World Cup?! England, know your place!
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
It’s the second rest day in Qatar, but you can still join John Brewin at 8pm (GMT) for live minute-by-minute updates from Real Madrid 1-2 Chelsea in Women’s Big Cup.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The worst manager he has ever had? He’s one of the few players with this opinion. I find it sad he said this. Memphis [Depay] had to deal with it too at Manchester [United], and now we kiss each other on the mouth” – Louis van Gaal hits back at Ángel Di María’s criticism as only Louis van Gaal can.
Luis Enrique has left his role as Spain manager, with the current under-21 coach, Luis de la Fuente, set to replace him. “The RFEF wishes Luis Enrique and his team the best of luck in their future projects. The coach has earned the love and admiration of the entire Federation, which will always be his home,” read a Spanish FA statement, offering the departing coach a hearty pat on the back on his way to the door marked ¡Adios!
Join the pod squad for a detailed look ahead to all the HRWC quarter-finals. Will Brazil keep dancing, and how do England stop Kylian Mbappé? Listen over here.
FOOTBALL DAILY LETTERS
M0r0cc0 already had Spain’s penalty shootout performance in their name. Some confidence, this – Krishna Moorthy.
I am really sad to see how Cristiano Ronaldo is being treated by the press. We talk a lot these days about mental health of our professional players. I wonder how journalists would react if they were treated this way? I am truly saddened by this negativity – Sylvie Deliencourt.
Rebranding Cristiano Ronaldo: CR12? – Bernard Clark.
Fights, provocations, broken egos, clueless managers, missed penalties, awful defending, funnily dressed fans in the stands … who would have thought this World Cup would be so interesting? – Bogdan Kotarlic.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Krishna Moorthy.
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