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Euro 2020 - Congrats Italy


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Southgate definitely gambled on ceding midfield control in that second half to defend the box. I don't mind that approach, but to relieve pressure it has to be balanced with some level of counter attacking threat, and that's where it fell down. I'm sure Southgate still intended us to counter attack - you don't send a team out there not to attack - but in practice the attack was either starting from too deep or was too isolated from the midfield for that. Southgate will have seen that, like we all did, but he will have also seen that we restricted Italy to few clear cut chances. The total Italian XG was less than 1.0 before the goal. You can see why in that moment he preferred to maintain the shape and keep faith in the players out there (who'd only conceded 1 goal all tournament, 0 from open play) than to tinker.

 

He might have seen things differently had Rashford been in form. Bringing an in form Rashford on and switching to the 4-3-3 we used so devastatingly against Spain in the Nations League would have been a no-brainer with how high Italy's defence was pushing up in the early stages of the second half. Saka is great, but offers a different kind of threat that's arguably better suited against a deeper lying defence, so I can see why Southgate didn't fancy making that change while we were still leading.

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Just now, Pants McSkill said:

Genuine question to those wanting to sack England's second most successful manager ever - the manager who just took us to our first ever European Championship final, who came within one spot-kick of delivering us only our second ever tournament, who took Roberto 'Premier League winning, triple Serie A winning, Fa Cup winning, Quadruple Italian cup winning manager' Mancini's Italy to penalties, the same Italy who everyone agreed were the team of the tournament, who got further than World Champions France and Golden Generation Belgium and World Cup winner Lowe's Germany... - Genuine question to you all:

 

Which manager that we could realistically appoint would *categorically* improve England and definitely win us the World Cup?

That's a big old strawman there, I don't think anybody at any point has said he should be sacked.

 

And it wasn't within one spot kick of winning, either.

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OK, so everyone in here is 100% all in agreement he should definitely be in charge at the World Cup then.

 

Because, and this may well be entirely on me of course - text doesn't carry tone particuarly well - but comments like this:

7 hours ago, Gabe said:

I do still believe that Southgate has done the prep for somebody else to take the team forward (no idea who, mind)...

...Kinda makes it sound like that's not the case.

 

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14 minutes ago, Pants McSkill said:

OK, so everyone in here is 100% all in agreement he should definitely be in charge at the World Cup then.

 

Because, and this may well be entirely on me of course - text doesn't carry tone particuarly well - but comments like this:

...Kinda makes it sound like that's not the case.

 

Well if you had gone back to my initial comments after the final I said he shouldn't have any pressure from fans or the press to be sacked, nor did I think or want him to be. What I did say is that I wouldn't be sad if he walked.

 

I think that he has done a brilliant, brilliant job around the culture and broader set up of the team - but sometimes a manager can only take a team so far and I think that might be the case here. I also said I'd hope to be very wrong on that, because he also seems to be a top bloke.

 

So, to be clear - do I think he will be in charge for the World Cup? Yes. Do I think we'll win it if he is? No. Again, hope very much to be wrong. 

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30 minutes ago, FiveFootNinja said:

Southgate should go and win the World Cup in Qatar to finish the project, and then pass a confident blossoming England team over to Eddie Howe to go win the next Euros in 2024. Simples.

 

Subscribe.

 

He's not going to leave with the World Cup just 1 year away given how far he and the squad has come... is he? :unsure:

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3 hours ago, FiveFootNinja said:

Southgate should go and win the World Cup in Qatar to finish the project, and then pass a confident blossoming England team over to Eddie Howe to not qualify for the next Euros in 2024. Simples.

 

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@feltmonkey I agree with a number of things in your post but you're introducing things that nobody said. I don't recall seeing anywhere anybody saying Southgate should be bold and 'bring on more forwards', people were questioning him not addressing things sooner. I think some people were suggesting Sancho for Sterling (who was clearly exhausted long before the end, which is hardly surprising) and more yearning for Grealish for Mount, but that's about it.

 

As a more general counterpoint I would say that, yes, Saka and Henderson played poorly, but to a degree I think both of them were affected by coming into a game that England had been chasing for around half an hour by that point (70th when Saka came on, 74th for Henderson) - that would've been hard for any player, especially in Henderson's case, where he was expected to try and help control the tempo when nobody else on the team was capable by that point. Saka got in some good positions but either miskicked or got into a tangle with another player and that's just unfortunate and nobody blames Southgate for that (though I think a fair few did suggest he take him off again as we headed into extra time).

 

Mount was also left on far too long, considering how ineffectual he had been; as I said in an earlier post, Grealish having 20 minutes more than he got might've made the difference - we'll never know. I also said earlier that having Kane staying up against their CBs would've helped give a chance of an out ball, instead of him being deep in our own half, meaning even if we did break, he was never going to be in the box on the end of anything.

 

So I do think there were changes he could've tried using the same personnel as he did and who knows, perhaps we would be celebrating a great triumph instead. As I said before, we'd laud him for it for outfoxing Mancini. As it stands though, Mancini made changes that England just weren't able to get to grips with (as Southgate said himself).

 

Italy were and are a better team right now, yes - but I don't think that game was unwinnable by a long stretch. A penny for Southgate's thoughts when he watches it back, what - if anything - would he do differently?

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Fucking hell, replacing Southgate with Eddie fucking Howe would be like replacing David Attenborough with Piers Morgan. 

 

Howe is a fraud who somehow manages to make his teams as likeable as Priti Patel - with the amount of criticism thrown at the Italians (and indeed Raheem Sterling) for play acting and gamesmanship, Howe would be off the scale. You'd see England players throw themselves to the ground constantly, play dirty, punch and kick behind the ref's back, surround the ref if these 'dark arts' didn't have the desired effect etc etc.

 

We've created so much goodwill both on and off the pitch which would evaporate overnight under the management of Howe with his sneering demeanour. 

 

I would genuinely rather reappoint Sam Allardyce. 

 

Moot point anyway, Southgate is going to take us to Qatar where hopefully we can perform as well as we did during these Euros, if not better. He's proven to be a very good international manager, which requires different credentials than club management. 

 

Also - excellent post, @feltmonkey - wish I could pos it twice. Completely agree.

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I've heard a lot of "Italy are better than us" from England fans. Just wondering, when people say that do they mean "Italy have better players than England" or "Italy play as a team better than England"? 

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I didn't take the "Eddie Howe' bait as assumed it was taking the piss.

 

I think Italy were 'better' as just came to the tournament a bit ahead of England, they were on a long run unbeaten with their coach and were peaking at precisely the right time whereas England are a developing group that is coming together still.

 

What is changed now is there are no excuses for the next WC and we aren't developing any more, we should be considering ourself as established.

 

Winning a tournament is always tough but we have to get to at least the semi finals for it not to be considered a failure. It's a young squad so has a few bites at the cherry but they are now tournament hardened and high expectations are not unfair.

 

 

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8 hours ago, feltmonkey said:

Eddie Howe?  Southgate is apparently too inflexible so we should give the job to Eddie Howe?  Eddie Howe who's Bournmouth team were like a definition of insanity on the pitch, endlessly doing the same specific move for 90 minutes match after match and losing?

 

This "Southgate got it wrong" "He's too negative" "He failed to change things" "He's tactically poor" narrative that's popped up is a reaction to us losing, it's not based on the reality of the match and especially the tournament as a whole.  For 60 minutes we were ahead, and it was only the last ten or so of those when Italy looked like equalising.  Before that, for all their pressure they hadn't created a chance.  The goal that they did get was a series of lucky deflections on their part rather than some move that tore through us and exposed us as the team of charlatans we now apparently were all along.  The plan was to win it with our wing-backs.  The team was set up to stop the areas of their team that could hurt us - defend against those wide forwards, stop their excellent midfield, Kane to pull their CBs into areas they didn't want to go, and for our wing-backs, who are better players than their full-backs, to make the difference in our favour.  Then a minute in one wing-back crosses to the other and we're 1-0 up.  That goal was the result of an attacking plan put into place by Southgate.  

 

The problem then was that as the game went on, and Mancini cleverly changed things, we dropped into a back five, and our wing-backs stopped effecting the game.  I don't think that was the plan - it just happened to the players on the pitch.  They had to defend their areas more and more, and we weren't getting hold of the ball long enough to launch counter-attacks.  A few players were panicking a bit, flummoxed by the possibility that we might win and rattled by opposition that pressed high up the pitch with great intensity.  The ball started getting kicked away rather than passed forward.  Mount had a difficult game, playing out of position as a wide forward who also had to play as a midfielder.  If Foden had been available he might have played there instead and we possibly would have looked better.  If he'd been available to come on we certainly could have used his ability on the ball.  We might have got some control back.  Maybe, maybe not.  

 

The substitutions made sense - Saka on to switch us to a back four to try and get an attacking foothold, and Henderson to put his foot on the ball, calm the team down, and show leadership in the middle of the park.  Unfortunately both played appalingly badly after coming on.  They both froze, had jelly legs, and couldn't trap the ball or pass it five yards, never mind turn the game in our favour.  That's not the manager's fault.  Not that I'm blaming the players either - sport can be such a weird thing.  You're brilliant at it one day, the next you might as well be wearing clown shoes.  

 

Italy are a better team than us.  The hardest thing for a manager to do is set up a team against superior opposition and win the game.  We so nearly did just that.  We lost by tiny margins.  We actually drew the game, remember.  And while Italy had all the possession they didn't have a whole load of chances and they only got the draw thanks to a really lucky goal.  If Rashford's penalty is three inches to the right having sent the keeper the wrong way, Saka is stepping up to hit a penalty to win the game.  What would have happened if Jorginho had been sent off for his challenge on Grealish as he should have been?  No-one seems to care because the next thing he did was miss his penalty, but in that few minutes of 11 vs 10 as Italy try to adjust to losing their most important player, perhaps we might have got a break and created a chance for Kane.

 

If Southgate had been "bold" and brought on loads of forwards would we have won the game?  Possibly.  Would we have lost control and been battered in normal or extra time?  Possibly.  I'd say that's more likely.  He actually did bring on a forward for a defender (Saka for Trippier) and with 20 minutes of extra time to go he brought on Grealish for Mount, another attacking substitution.  This was at a point where the game was completely in the balance.  I'm not sure how much more attacking we could have gone.  Maybe Rashford and Sancho could have come on earlier, but not for defenders or midfielders.  It would have had to be for Kane, Sterling, Grealish, or Saka at that point, as we weren't far off playing a 4-2-4 by then.  When they did come on we ended the game with Sancho in central midfield and Rashford at right back.  10 minutes of that and Italy would have probably scored. 

 

The basic idea of throwing on the forwards and "going for it" relies on the opposition actually letting you do this.  You can't go for it if you don't have the ball, and Italy were making sure that we didn't.  They are a team that is very good at holding possession, and also very good at pressing and winning it back.  

 

We came so, so close.  So close that you can't really pick apart the failings because there really weren't any definite big failings.  This wasn't Keegan failing to understand how to counter formations, or Hodgson completely unable to get the team on the front foot against a weak Iceland, Or Taylor's perculiar inability to judge who's a good player and who's completely crap, or Sven thinking he could just put all the good players on and they'd sort it out.  I've got no complaints with anything anyone in the squad - players and coaches - did all tournament.  I'm just proud of them, gutted for them as well as us fans, and hopeful and desparing about the future in equal measure.  The hope is logical and based on the players and the manager, the despair is just a consequence of being an England fan for decades and thinking that might be as close as we get and as good as it ever gets.

 

This goes around in circles a fair bit. Fact is, Southgate did fail to change things in the second half, and everyone could see the game was slipping away. On the one hand I admire his ultimate faith in his players; that at home, with the wind knocked out of their sails, he still had faith enough in them if it went to penalties.... On the other hand, it was mental and doomed to failure. Italy had the bit between their teeth.

 

There was a solution to not cede further control, to gain an advantage even, and have a go at winning the game in extra time. It involved taking off Kane and bringing on Sancho and Rashford, playing from deep but as the furthest forward, and asking them to keep running at two centre-backs who were on bookings already. Why Southgate didn't fancy it, God only knows. Maybe he was afraid of it going to penalties anyway and not having Kane on the pitch? We'll never know.

 

I think the only thing we do know is that Italy would have been shitting themselves for the last fifteen had England played a low block of eight, with a runner in each channel as an out ball. It was the best option on the table.

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A lot of this analysis assumes that a) Italy are passive observers and aren't going to react to counter whatever you try to do, b) the players on the pitch are actually able to execute what you want them to do. If you bring on Henderson and Saka and they play poorly that is on them as well right?

 

I felt maybe he could have changed Sterling and I think Grealish for Mount should have happened much earlier.

 

But you can drive yourself mad going round and round with this sort of hindsight analysis. Ultimately it was a match of very fine margins and it is possible - likely - that given all other factors, in the end 1-1 and penalties was the best outcome we could manage.

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This thread would ONE HUNDRED PERCENT be full of admiration and praise if Southgate took off both our player of the tournament and our main penalty taker (and England's two top scorers), brought on an injured Rashford, didn't bring on Saka, and we still lost on penalties.

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4 minutes ago, ChewMagma said:

A lot of this analysis assumes that a) Italy are passive observers and aren't going to react to counter whatever you try to do manage.

 

I think that's harsh. One of the things everyone in this thread would agree upon is that control of the match was regained by Italy in the second half. You can almost take it as a given that the opposition are not going to be passive observers (I say almost, because England were). You can still force them to answer a new question though, and that's where a gamble needed taking. Maybe Mancini would have had the answer, but given he already had the answer to what was going on out there, it was worth the calculated risk.

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I wasn't trying to be harsh! I'm just not sure that in a Euros final, a thing England have never experienced, there was some magic tactical key that Southgate just needed to find to unlock the game. It might have taken every last piece of the English players' skill just to keep the Italians at bay. From the touchline, Southgate could have sensed that his players had nothing left, trying to change things might only upset the apple cart, and a penalty shootout was the only realistic chance to pinch it.

 

We can all say he should be braver, maybe even that it is better to die 3-1 by the sword than live through the agony of penalties, but elite sport can't think like that, it has to keep alive the opportunity for the victory as long as it can.

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1 hour ago, Zael said:

I've heard a lot of "Italy are better than us" from England fans. Just wondering, when people say that do they mean "Italy have better players than England" or "Italy play as a team better than England"? 

 

Just on a personnel level, we have better forwards, they have a much better midfield, and the defences are about the same. They also have a better coach.

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7 minutes ago, The Fox said:

 

Just on a personnel level, we have better forwards, they have a much better midfield, and the defences are about the same. They also have a better coach.

 

Yeah I'd agree with that. I'd add that England have the better bench, but yeah. 

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45 minutes ago, Pants McSkill said:

This thread would ONE HUNDRED PERCENT be full of admiration and praise if Southgate took off both our player of the tournament and our main penalty taker (and England's two top scorers), brought on an injured Rashford, didn't bring on Saka, and we still lost on penalties.

 

I wouldn't advocate taking Kane off with a shootout looming, no chance. Sterling wouldn't have mattered though because he didn't take a penalty anyway.

 

Mount should have come off much earlier to give us a proper outlet up top - that much was surely obvious, and I'm not sure what justification can be given for leaving him on as long as he did. Switching to a back four also should have come earlier, and unfortunately Saka was so poor when he did come on that he probably should have been hooked off again in extra time.

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Kane was doing what Kane does, which is drop very deep to get and move the ball sideways, turn and spring forward.  Sterling was similar.  Italy were happy with that, because it meant they didn't have to worry about playing a high line with two aging centre backs.  Englands problem was that they were generally moving the ball backwards and trying to thread long passes through the Italian midfield (which they generally managed to cut out).

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17 minutes ago, The Fox said:

 

I wouldn't advocate taking Kane off with a shootout looming, no chance. Sterling wouldn't have mattered though because he didn't take a penalty anyway.

 

Mount should have come off much earlier to give us a proper outlet up top - that much was surely obvious, and I'm not sure what justification can be given for leaving him on as long as he did. Switching to a back four also should have come earlier, and unfortunately Saka was so poor when he did come on that he probably should have been hooked off again in extra time.

And that's something that Southgate was praised for in the Denmark match, taking Grealish off for (I think) Trippier. He was called ruthless and brave, but that was only a tactical decision and not a decision based on a change he'd already made not working.

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