Having spent the weekend at Glastonbury and not getting any signal to watch the Euro’s other than the England game on Sunday (I managed to use the Management’s work phone through some of jiggery pokery), I managed to get to watch both of the games yesterday and so feel like I’m back on track with my football fix, although the distinct lack of goals across both games wasn’t amazing I have to say. In the first one Saliba did his usual Gandalf impression and made sure that the Belgian players shall not pass and at the other end they needed a late OG to sneak them through. I thought France looked pretty good overall in terms of build up, but absolutely sucked in front of goal and I didn’t think Oblak had too many worldie saves he had to make.

I wonder if other teams are as critical of their national side as the English? Maybe. I mean after that laboured win yesterday the French press might be asking some questions, but I guess the difference is that at least they looked decent in points, as opposed to the shambles that is the England side under Southgate. Honestly, I know I’m late to the party here (because of the party in Somerset, mind), but that England performance was woeful, disjointed and a bit of a mess. Southgate has a concentrated period of time to get things prepared for international tournaments. There are friendlies, there are qualifiers, there are options you have to try different things in case the worst case happens and you lose players to injury before major tournaments. Mitigate risk, factor in the unexpected, be as prepared as you can.

In March England played Brazil. This was the team line up:


Walker   –   Stones   –   Maguire   –   Chilwell

Foden   –   Rice   –   Bellingham

Gallagher   –   Watkins   –   Gordon

Tell me what you can learn from that side? I get that it’s Brazil, but Southgate shouldn’t give a monkey’s, because he was three months away from the Euro’s and he should have been experimenting. He should have been experimenting a year away from the Euro’s, when it comes to Friendlies. But instead he just played his faves in meaningless games and here we are with him bemoaning not having a natural left back at the competition, or that we miss Kalvin Phillips.

Gareth, you’re an excuse maker, and not a very good one. This is on you.

Anyway, at least the transfer window is now open, so we can officially start to get hyper-sensitive to every single rumour that comes out. Apparently we’ve triggered Raya’s signing with Brentford, which is no surprise, but what is a surprise (well, to me, anyway), is that we’re interested in this Italian lad from Bologna Riccardo Calafiori, who apparently would prefer to go to Juve but Bologna don’t like Juve, so they’re looking for suitors overseas. I get that the kid wants Juve though; they’re the perennial winners in the Serie A and even when they don’t win, usually they go back and get close within a year or two and if you’re Italian then that kind of kudos is big. They haven’t won it for four years, as it’s been Inter, Napoli, Milan and Inter since Juve last won it, but given their record is of winning it 30 times where Inter’s is 20 times, it shows you that eventually they do end up getting it right.

I’m also not sure on Italians adapting to the Premier League, although there have of course been some that are a roaring success, but they’ve tended to be from the 90s and the influx we had. Just look at this list voted by fans of the ‘best’ Italians in the Premier League era. Some of you might be arguing Jorginho for us shows it can be done, but let’s be honest, he’s Brazilian that decided to declare for Italy. He moved to Italy at 15 years old so I don’t think that quite counts – he had his grounding as a Brazilian (even if he’s not really the flare player we come to expect of Brazilians).

What about defenders though? After all, Italians are known for their love of the art of defending, right? I had a Google. I’ve found Ogbonna at West Ham, who’s alright, I guess. Marco Materazzi was at Everton, but that was in his formative years before moving back to Italy after one year and doing the business for Inter. This article is a bit old but still they’re choosing Ogbonna as one of the ‘best of all time’ Italian defenders in the Premier League, so I’m thinking this might be a bit of a stretch to get this Bologna kid and expect him to bang for The Arsenal.

Does that mean I will be devastated when he goes to Man City and becomes they’re greatest ever player? I prefer not to speak… 😉

Anyway, I’ve eeked that rambling on as much as I can, so I think I’ll put a pin in today’s utterings. There’s a couple more games in the Round of 16 tonight and I think most people are thinking it’ll be The Netherlands and Austria who will go through to the next round. The Netherlands have flattered to deceive but the Austrian’s have looked pretty good, so I am thinking we’ll see those two sides face off on Saturday when the quarter final is shown in Berlin on Saturday night. By that time we’ll know if England have progressed and we’ll have also have seen what looks like an interesting evening with Spain against Germany and Portugal against France on Friday – that promises to be intriguing.

I’m trying to sort out a pod for tomorrow so will also keep you posted if that goes ahead. But until tomorrow, have a good one.