England await critical knockout
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It was Sunday afternoon, in a beachfront hotel in Repino, and Gareth Southgate was thinking back to the night England qualified for the World Cup and one of those jarring occasions at Wembley – of which there have been a few – that somehow still feel so relevant when charting the trajectory of his team. [Image: canadiens_014.jpg]Southgate was reminiscing about a scratchy 1-0 win against Slovenia last October when the overriding memory was not Harry Kane’s late winner but the sour indifference of the crowd and the jarring http://www.officialauthentic49erproshop.com/womens_joe_williams_jerseysight of thousands of http://www.bruinsteamprostore.com/Riley_Nash_Jersey fans feeling it necessary Womens Nick Vannett Jersey to make their own entertainment – origami in this case. The paper planes that landed on the pitch felt like a symbol of the fans’ apathy. Jeers Womens Duke Ihenacho Jersey soon followed. “Bored spectators, paper planes and early exits – something is seriously wrong with this England team,” was one headline. And it was even http://www.clevelandbrownsauthorizedstore.com/duke-johnson-jersey-elite worse, as Southgate could also remember, during England’s excursion to Malta the previous month when the opponents featured a centre-half from Ebbsfleet United and, for many of the travelling Robert Thomas Jersey supporters, something snapped. [Image: chiefs_225.jpg]The mass walkout around the 70-minute mark that night seemed like a choreographed protest. The chants of “We’re fucking shit” told their own story and what has never been reported until now is that England’s players were also targeted as they left the ground. Malta were 190th out of 211 teams in Fifa’s rankings and had won only five competitive matches in 55 years. Yet it was 0-0 at half-time and a late goal rush, when England scored three times, did not spare Southgate and his players on the journey away from the stadium. The chants informed them they were not fit to wear the shirt. It was spiteful, mutinous and the culmination, undoubtedly, of too many years of pent-up frustration. Ten months on the current side will be in Moscow on Tuesday to take on Colombia for a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup and Southgate – the man who applied for several Championship jobs without even getting an interview only a few years ago – has held himself in such a way he is doubling up, apparently, as an unexpected leader of fashion, asked in one BBC interview whether he was aware how much waistcoat sales had rocketed back in England. “They’ve been able to change perceptions of how an England team might play,” Southgate said of his players. “We mustn’t lose sight of that. When we qualified, people were throwing paper aeroplanes on to the pitch at Wembley. We were driving back to our hotel in Malta with obscene chants being thrown at us from supporters. “I feel like we’ve started to connect the team with the public again. I feel like we’ve created excitement, that we’ve played in a style that has really shown what young English players are capable of, and I want us to continue doing that. I really believe in the group of players we’ve got. They are young. They are inexperienced. For some of them, this will be one of the biggest games they’ll have been involved in. But maybe not the biggest. We’ve always got to keep that context for the players.” His belief is that England cannot “consider ourselves a top team until we have beaten a top team” but he is encouraging them to think like one before they get the chance to stake that claim against players such as Radamel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and, injury permitting, James Rodríguez. Ever since the start of this tournament one phrase has been heard more than any other within the England camp. It is to “attack Womens Jason Sanders Jersey the tournament”. Don’t hold back, don’t play with the restraint of other England teams. Don’t be the team of Euro 2016 and many others. Southgate played in an era for England when the team spirit was undermined by club cliques. Yet on Saturday, when given a day off, Jordan Henderson, Danny Welbeck, Marcus Rashford, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jesse Lingard went together to the Divo Ostrov amusement park in St Petersburg. Or to put it another way, two players from Liverpool, two http://www.officialchiefslockerroom.com/elite-cameron-erving-jersey from Manchester United and one from Arsenal, all acting daft on a rollercoaster because they thought it was going to pull away before they had fixed their seatbelts. “You have to put club rivalries to one side,” Lingard said. “We have been like family. We all get along with each other and that’s why we have done so well. There is no squabbling. There are no cliques.”http://www.horsezipsworld.com/megabbs/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=89325&posts=1#M101917
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