Michael 84

In 2018 Football Came Home – The England Story

Thursday, 12th July, 2018

It was a story of hope from the beginning, which is unusual for England teams in recent times. The song from 1996 came back, with the mantra being said, shouted and sung all over England for a month; It’s coming home. England did not win the 2018 World Cup, but there’s no doubt, football did come home.

That is the love for the England national football team, football reunited the country once again. As you all know I support Spain, and I’ve seen the best team in the world play, and win; From 2008 until 2014 Spain were undoubtedly the best team on the planet, and according to me and lots of others, the best in history.

But while I was dreaming of Spain winning World Cups and European Championships being at home in England, and witnessing it all happen before my eyes, the home team was a shambles. They were pretty hopeless, under performed on occasions, and didn’t even make it to Euro 2008. Football is the nation’s game, but for over 10 years, they didn’t really have a team to be proud of. A mix of unpopular managers and players, poor performances, bad tactics and players who were just not good enough. The England fans were pretty fed up with their team.

Then came the qualifying for the World Cup in Russia; In came big Sam, not the most popular man, and after 1 game it was all over for him, when he was caught on tape allegedly advising how to get round rules on transfers.

In came Gareth Southgate to no fanfare at all, but England did well in qualifying, as they tend to do, and took their seat at the top table. The World Cup journey was about to begin.

England’s biggest result was the draw they were handed. Belgium, debutantes Panama and Tunisia. The key was the order of the games; With the hardest game against the Belgians being last, England would have hoped to have qualified by the time they came up against them, and they did.

Why Did This England Team Do So Much Better?

They got over the line. It really is that simple. In previous World Cups we’ve seen England play out draws, not being able to beat teams, lose games, and play terrible. They didn’t play like World beaters, but this England team was able to get the job done when it was needed, for most of the games.

Take the first game – England beat Tunisia 2-1 and didn’t play great, but they scored the winner in stoppage time. This set up the next game against Panama perfectly, a win under their belt in the first game, playing against the team with the least experience in the whole World Cup, they were always going to win. They did, and got out of the group.

In previous years, England wouldn’t have beat Tunisia. It would have been 1-1 and then a scrappy win against Panama would leave them with 4 points, and probably still qualify. But there would have been less optimism and fans saying it’s the “Same old England”. Don’t underestimate the importance of that first win, it was big result.

The Panama game was always going to be a win, but the way it came around was what England the team and the English fans needed; A comprehensive win. 5-0 at half time, they ended up winning 6-1 with Kane getting a hattrick.

The Belgium game was now a dead rubber, England lost it 1-0 with major changes made to their team.

With teams falling out of the World Cup, and England being on a favourable side of the draw, getting results, the fans started to believe.

Colombia stood in the way, England took the lead, but in stoppage time they were pegged back 1-1. The dreaded penalties came, and England won a penalty shootout! People started to believe more.

Sweden were next up, who don’t have the best players, but have a strong team ethic. England were able to comfortably beat them 2-0. England did not outclass the Swedes, but once again, they knew how to get over the line and get the job done. People are now really really starting to believe it’s coming home.

We’re into the Semi Final of the World Cup stage, and it’s England against Croatia. England come out flying, and score from a free kick. The second half starts, and England are not playing well again, Croatia pull one back and take it to extra time. Croatia then get a goal, and win the game 2-1.

They reached the semi finals for the first time since the memorable 1990 World Cup, with Bobby Robson, Lineker, Gazza and co. A good achievement, but when the dust settles, everyone knows this was a golden opportunity to get to a final.

England were not robbed, there wasn’t any huge mistakes which everyone will be talking about for years to come, they weren’t an embarrassment. They just lost. That’s football.

England Set New Record – 9 Goals From Set Pieces In The 2018 World Cup

The Trippier goal against Croatia was the 9th goal for England from a set piece. This is the World Cup where England would be seen as set piece masters, with the love train from corners, free kicks and penalties, 9/12 goals were from set pieces. That’s a massive 75% of goals coming from set pieces.

Is there anything wrong with this? No. This is the way England play, and just because a lot of people see them as a big nation which should play beautiful football, they should do what they’re good at, which is what they’ve done. They’ve clearly worked on set pieces, and they paid off, big time.

But let’s not get carried away, England did not actually play brilliant football. So why have the fans took to this England team more than the rest?

Passion, togetherness, pride, being realistic, getting results, and the most likeable manager and group of players they’ve had in over a decade. Raheem Sterling has had to deal with the brunt of the critics, but the other 22 and manager, virtually none. How can you criticise players like Trippier, Lingard, Walker, Maguire, Kane, Pickford? It’s hard to. Most of the players have that likeable factor, most don’t strut around like Cristiano Ronaldo, and are a fairly humble bunch for Premier League footballers.

This group of players and manager had that spirit last seen in Italia 90 or Euro 96, possibly 98 and 2002.

The World Cup may not have came home, but the passion and pride for the national team is back, which is brilliant! I live for the Summer, Summer football is the greatest, there’s nothing better. Sure, the Premier League is great, the most exciting league in the World. The Champions League is great too, you see every one of the best players in the World play. But Summer football, it’s got that little bit of magic that everyone can feel.

Those 4 weeks of pure football magic are the best thing ever. It was a lonely place being a big Summer footy fan in England, but finally the English fans passion for it has been restored. Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup will be here before we know it!

Football has came home.

Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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