ON THE SPOT
You’ll have noticed a few red-faced Englishmen getting very angry when Callum Wilson’s goal against Switzerland was disallowed by VAR on Sunday. No surprise there, to be fair to the lads, given they must have been itching to get away from the stadium and back to the boozer, ready to resume charming the locals with some educational songs about mid-20th century European history. Every minute matters when people are waiting to hear about what did happen to those 10 German bombers in the air, so it was no wonder that some England fans could be heard chanting “[Eff] VAR” when Wilson’s elation at breaking the Swiss resistance proved short-lived. Weirdly VAR remained un-effed, however, and that meant Gareth Southgate’s team had to go through the stress of a penalty shootout in order to win the ultimate gong: third place in the Intertoto Cup (that is what that competition’s called, isn’t it?). Eek!
While it was a bit annoying that the earliest pre-season friendly in history had to go on a bit longer than necessary, it’s important to remember that we would have been denied the spectacle of Jordan Pickford, powered by the Vimto running through his veins, traction-engining his penalty into the net if the game had been settled in normal time. It was probably the most thunderous spot-kick since Julian D1cks almost took Peter Schmeichel’s head off at a stadium called Upton Park (look it up, kids) and from that point there was no doubt Pickford would come up with the save that confirmed England are even better at football than Switzerland. Take that, Roger Federer.
Bronze, though. Shiny bronze! Look at England, envy of All Europe, ready to conquer all-comers at Euro 2020. Assuming we ignore the fact that it was Portugal, who went and actually won the Nations League, that is, beating the Netherlands thanks to a strike from Valencia forward Gonçalo Guedes. It was further evidence of Portugal’s tournament prowess, though judging by Cristiano Ronaldo’s contained celebrations this paled in comparison to their success at Euro 2016. Nothing to get too excited about, then, unlike England’s finest achievement since winning Le Tournoi in 1997. Speaking of which, there’s another tournament going on in France at the moment – and, presumably now the Nations League is done, $exually Repressed Morris Dancing Fiver, our stereotypical English cousin, and all the other stag-doers will be heading to Le Havre to back the Lionesses when they face Argentina on Friday. Summer’s not over yet. There are plenty more town squares to conquer. March!
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m so upset. More for the style in which we played the second half. If you think as a coach you can come in and change your philosophy and change the style within five matches … we have just been crucified, not once but twice” – Matildas legend Heather Garriock sticks the flamin’ boot into manager Ante Milicic after his side approached their World Cup opener, a shock 2-1 defeat by Italy, playing a defensive line almost as high as Everest.