The GoatyGav Column
“We support, We support, We support our National Team, We support our National Team!” was often the reply to Manchester United fans, at Old Stretford, who sang about Ronaldo running rings around the English team. Truth be told that wasn’t my favourite retort to that chant. I had to admire the Stokies version. It went like this “He dives like a tart, he cries like a kiiiiid, your boy Ronaldo Loves Real Madrid!”
I enjoyed both of the England games over the last few days. Frankly it was a welcome respite from one of the worst runs of games for West Ham in quite some time. Most likely the worst since Mr Allardyce, pretty much, gave up at Christmas 2014 in the knowledge that he wasn’t going to get his contract renewed the following summer. I felt that was a shame as he could, potentially, have left a decent legacy and an enhanced reputation with us fans if he’d have made more of an effort to see things through to the end of that season from a strong fourth place. Personally I would have found it more easy, or at least quicker, to let his ‘deluded’ and ‘West Ham Way’ comments go if he’d have gone out on a high. Speaking of Mr Allardyce, and England, I genuinely believe that the best thing to happen to our national team was his dismissal after the controversial ‘Football for Sale’ investigation in to corruption in the English game.
Gareth Southgate is a breath of fresh air. That said four games ago it was like the sky was falling in. We’d just gone down 2-1 away to an extremely impressive Czech Republic. In the game I watched the Czechs played some of the best football that England have been up against in many a year. Personally I saw no shame, at all, in the loss as it was a brilliant game to behold. It was also a great opportunity for Gareth Southgate, and his squad, to draw learning from. I’m convinced that those lessons were heeded and the learnings adopted to strengthen for the future.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not getting carried away. At least I’m not getting as carried away as the Kosovo manager was with our (most of our) Nation’s men’s footballing representatives. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard another manager evangelise the way that Bernard Challandes did last night. For those who haven’t heard the “best team,” comments yet you can watch the post match interview below (the “Best Team” part begins around 5.00 mins onwards) : -
Despite holding that smidgen of my optimism in check I have to admit that I’m really, really looking forward to next year’s European Championships. Those that remember the last, and the previous, time a tournament was in this country could but only be excited about the prospect. All three group matches will be played at ‘home’ at Wembley. Add to that the fact that England go in to the group stage draw as a tier 1 seed the team’s chances have taken a real boost from both the outcome, and manner, of their qualification.
During that qualification campaign our own Declan Rice has been introduced in to the England first team fold. During his seven caps to date Deccers has had his ups and downs. After a steady start he has experienced criticism for his more recent run outs for the Three Lions. Some of that criticism, I feel, is warranted and some not. Against Kosovo he did very little wrong. When he got caught out of position, further up the field, several pundits picked up on the fact that he needed to focus on what he’s good at in his holding midfield role and stick to that job with more discipline. Last night I think his positional awareness was bang on. Rice has shown he’s worked hard and learned. From other areas our number fourty-one has had the ‘sideways and backwards’ finger of criticism raised against him. It seemed to escape many of those detractors notice that the twenty year old drove positively from his own half for twenty five yards before laying off to Sterling for Kane’s goal. It’s a question of the right ball, not always the forward one, and the lad is learning and growing in this respect all the time. Some only seem to be able to see the negative in certain players and, it appears, Lee Dixon and Roy Keane, along with others, are in this mind-set where Declan is concerned.
Back to West Ham the ladies had a toughie away to Man City. I watched the game on BBC Red Button and, to be fair to the Ironesses, our ladies played some decent stuff. It was the incisiveness in the final third and clinical finishing that was the big difference between the two teams as Man City ran out 5-0 winners. This is not a game to dwell upon for Matt Beard and his charges. On to the next one against Lewes at Rush Green on Wednesday night and then again at home vs Reading on Sunday.
No game to report for the PL2 team however a stiff test in the shape of a visit to Stoke City this coming weekend will be a real test for Dimi Halajko’s boys. Best of luck to them for that one.
Enjoy the rest of the week. COYI!