Pickford stars as England book their place in semi-finals

Saturday, 7 July, 2018 176comments  |  Jump to last
Sweden 0 - 2 England
England are into the last four of the 2018 World Cup following a 2-0 victory over Sweden, one partially secured thanks to some excellent saves by Jordan Pickford.

In what was, predictably, a tight and unspectacular Premier League-style game for the first half an hour, there was a lot of sparring but precious little goalmouth action until the Lions scored from another set-piece.

Harry Maguire met a corner from the left with a powerful header that he buried in the corner to give England the lead.

Pickford was called into action for the first time early in the second half when he was forced to palm away a header and preserve the advantage.

And England doubled their lead shortly before the hour mark when a cross was swung in from the right flank and Dele Alli planted a simple header past Olsson.

Pickford was on hand again to make another strong save when Sweden finally picked their way through the England defence, diving to his right this time to deny Berg with a strong hand.

England continued to press but Sweden's desperation was increasing by the 70th minute when Pickford made another impressive stop, using lightning-quick reactions to fingertip a close-range header from Berg over the bar.  

Reader Comments (176)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 07/07/2018 at 15:51:21
Very comfortable, Sweden look a limited side and I doubt England could have wished for a more comfortable path to a semi-final in any major tournament.

Sterling causes lots of worry to defences but couldn't hit a barn door at international level.

The tournament will be the making of Trippier and Maguire who both look outstanding. It really makes me sad to think we missed out on Maguire and got flippin Keane who runs in treacle and heads a ball with pigeon power.

Derek Cowell
2 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:07:49
Was that Pickford of Sunderland playing for England again?!
Simon Smith
3 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:13:33
Come on England

Any of you doubters care to speak up?????

Mike Keating
4 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:21:55
Agree, Jim — What did Leicester pay for Maguire? And we ended up with Keane!

Funny Old Game – England dominated it but Pickford is MotM.

Also, watching last night, I couldn't help but think we let Lukaku go on the cheap when you consider Neymar went for £200m.

And Fellaini played a blinder too — it's hard being a Blue.

Max Murphy
5 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:23:02
It always baffled me why we didn't go after Maguire when Hull were about to get relegated. What were our scouts doing? Couldn't they see the potential of this player??? Bloody useless nobs.
Brian Denton
6 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:27:10
Simon, I would be pleased but amazed if England win the World Cup, as they would have to beat two of Croatia, France and Belgium to do so. I'm assuming Croatia beat Russia tonight.

But if Jordan carries on the way he is doing, who knows?

Alan J Thompson
7 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:32:08
Simon (#3);

They beat a not very good Swedish team thanks to 2 or 3 good saves by Pickford but there are still a couple of players who go missing.

Other than his goal, Dele Alli was again almost invisible, as was Lingard. Young as a full-back does not inspire me. Sterling does well to get into the positions he does and then totally fails to find the net. And Kane is starting to look like he needs a rest. Only a stupid penalty allowed them to score against Colombia but they are the only team that seems to have worked on set-pieces.

Having said that, I'd like to see them thrash Belgium in the Final.

Martin Nicholls
8 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:34:14
Derek (#2) – sorry, my friend, but the answer is "No"! In the same way that it wasn't Stones (or even Dier) of Everton – or indeed Henderson of Sunderland!
Gary Russell
9 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:36:55
Speak up about what exactly, Simon? A lot of us are, to use a good ole American expression, nonplussed by Ingerlaaand.

But yeah, I'll admit, taken by the excitement of Alli's 2nd, I did add an extra half a spoon of sugar in me cup of tea... and I stirred it longer, too.

Martin Nicholls
10 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:37:18
ps: In terms of games played, he's also more of a Toffee than a Mackem, Derek!
Simon Smith
11 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:37:54
Where's the passion???

Enjoy the moment! I am!!!

Gary Russell
12 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:45:26
Okay, I'll make it an Irish coffee next time. May I ask how old you are, Simon?
Ian Burns
13 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:47:50
Pickford is coming of age in this World Cup. On today's performance, he looks like an England Number 1 – that penalty save has given him such a boost.

I know Sterling can't find the net but his pace; running and positioning is excellent.

I agree with Alan (#7), Kane is beginning to look tired although he gave an unselfish performance today.

Jay Wood

14 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:49:01
Simon @ 11.

Take your own advice and "Enjoy the moment" instead of taking time out to... goad who exactly, and for what?

Brian Williams
15 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:49:04
Not tryin' to groom him, are you, Gary?

Don't think that's allowed on here. ;-)

Jim Bennings
16 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:49:50
Mike (#4),

I must admit we do miss Fellaini, yes. If you actually watch Fellaini live, while it's not always pretty, he's nearly always in the picture and breaking play up, plus he's massive in penalty boxes with his presence and general nuisance factor.

Gary Russell
17 Posted 07/07/2018 at 17:58:52
Indeed, Brian, shocking how such questions can be construed.

The 1990 World Cup, me and a couple of mates arrived in Munich train station as the German hordes made their way to the 'Italia 90 Final.'

Could have been us... Simon.


Simon Smith
18 Posted 07/07/2018 at 18:00:44
I'm 35. I'll leave you all to it then!

Just pleased one of ours was the main man today.

Len Hawkins
19 Posted 07/07/2018 at 18:06:21
Pickford is immense; all this bullshit about being a small keeper is rubbish. Cooper at Ipswich was no giant yet he kept saving penalty after penalty.

Martin Nicholls
20 Posted 07/07/2018 at 18:06:32
On holiday in Lisbon (brings back memories of the Benfica and Sporting games – at least the pre-match stuff!) at the moment and, whilst I watched the game, it was not the English TV coverage. Can any of you guys tell me if those TV pundits who were so quick to stick the knife into Jordan after the Belgium game have eaten any humble pie yet?
Steve Brown
21 Posted 07/07/2018 at 18:09:25
Interested to see what all the journos who said Jordan should be dropped say tomorrow. He was sensational again.
Brian Williams
22 Posted 07/07/2018 at 18:18:12
Martin (#20).

The manager of the Mill wants to know when you're back as takings have plummeted!!

Geoff Lambert
23 Posted 07/07/2018 at 18:20:15
Steve, not just the journos but quite a few on here last week.
Philip Bunting
24 Posted 07/07/2018 at 18:21:21
I'm in Stockholm with work and watched it with a bar full of Swedes. Some saves but they seemed to accept the inevitable. I'm Northern Irish but rooting for you. Good luck!
Dave Cook
25 Posted 07/07/2018 at 18:40:32
So Pickford is funding our budget this season then?
Jakub Kollar
26 Posted 07/07/2018 at 18:54:21
As a lifelong Swedish Evertonian, I am both sad and happy. Happy for Jordan who seems to grow every match!
Colin Glassar
27 Posted 07/07/2018 at 18:59:50
The Jordans’ were immense tonight. Merseyside is present without any scousers which is sad.
Steve Ferns
28 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:00:16
It's amazing when you stop to see how many games Pickford has actually played in the Premier League and how he was playing for England U21s only 12 months ago.

The lad gets better and better, who knows how good he can be.

Jack Convery
29 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:01:08
Brands had better start looking for a goalkeeper asap. Butland is available. Pickford will be off as EFC will not turn their noses up at £50m plus when the Champions League mob come calling. I wonder when Shearer will acknowledge the lad is a Mackem?
Steve Ferns
30 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:02:22
Jakub, I'd swap it all for 3 points at Molyneux on opening day.

Still enjoying England though. Commiserations, Jakub.

Dave Evans
31 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:04:11
Sometimes so churlish and petty on here. Always looking for the cute negative angle.
Well done, Jordan, great game. And England in the semis with a young team getting better.
Brian Williams
32 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:09:54
Dave (#31).

Yeh you'll always get the miserable fuckers who either want to piss people off or just get some attention. I pity people who can't enjoy the moment, or can't stand others enjoying the moment.

Ray Smith
33 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:19:21
Jack (#29),

Why are you being so negative? >Unless you have a crystal ball, stop trying to predict the future. You don't know what Pickford will do!

The only thing I agree with in your posting is the price hike following his World Cup performances.

Try and be positive, he may actually attract better players who want to be part of this new era.

Joe McMahon
34 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:22:23
I'm hoping Jordan will stay with us for at least another season. I don't want a Rooney or Lineker situation again. Hopefully with Brands and Silva he can see what they want to achieve. I'm staying positive, as this England run has a feel-good factor.
Eric Paul
35 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:38:47
All the people who didn't want England to do well on ToffeeWeb are now the "Pickford will leave" doom-mongers. If you've got nothing constructive to post, why even post?
Ray Smith
36 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:40:35
Eric 35

Spot on 100%

Eric Paul
37 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:45:06
Cheers Ray
Above us only stars
Chris Corn
38 Posted 07/07/2018 at 19:49:42
Jack (#29) ... yaaawwwnnn.
Colin Glassar
39 Posted 07/07/2018 at 20:03:14
Russia and Croatia are both looking crap. Can we dare to believe?
Tom Evans
40 Posted 07/07/2018 at 20:11:50
Surprised at how many are seemingly waking up to the prowess of Maguire. How that oaf Walsh missed the opportunity to snap up not only Maguire but Andrew Robertson is criminal.
Chris Corn
41 Posted 07/07/2018 at 20:22:44
Tom 40. Love the criticism for not signing players who were probably never close to signing for us. Who's fault will it be for sacking Martinez if Belgium win it?
Sam Hoare
42 Posted 07/07/2018 at 20:28:10
Yes Tom @40, would be feeling so much more confident about our squad if we'd bought Maguire and Robertson for less than the price of Michael Keane!

Pickford Coleman Holgate Maguire Robertson would make for a pretty handy defense, I reckon.

Eric Paul
43 Posted 07/07/2018 at 20:38:30

Why do you feel Maguire was beyond us at Hull when we signed Keane from Burnley?

Tom Evans
44 Posted 07/07/2018 at 20:40:06
Sam, being a resident of Hull enabled me to pay a good few visits to the KCom where a blind man could see the quality on show from the pair. My last visit there was when Sunderland played and a certain Pickford played a blinder keeping City out.
Tom Evans
45 Posted 07/07/2018 at 20:49:12
Chris, Maguire was there for the taking believe me. £15m and we never went near him. Bit beneath us, he was... cart horse, he was.
James Hill
46 Posted 07/07/2018 at 20:49:12
Happy pills anyone?
Brian Williams
47 Posted 07/07/2018 at 21:29:57
Hindsight's a wonderful thing, isn't it? The Maguire debate could be about any player we (or anyone else for that matter) didn't buy and has since gone on to become a good player. Pretty pointless argument really.
Wonder how many supporters of other teams are having the same debate about Pickford?

Sam Hoare
48 Posted 07/07/2018 at 22:03:03
Brian, I know what you mean but I’m not sure it’s totally pointless. The point is that the previous recruitment regime made the wrong decision too frequently. They are largely responsible for the backward steps taken over the last year or two. Hopefully the new regime does better.
Jamie Crowley
49 Posted 07/07/2018 at 22:06:34
We know how brilliant Jordan is – we've seen it week-in and week-out.

The single thing that bothered me about his game – his distribution – he's been fantastic at thanks to Southgate's approach. He's constantly showing for the ball and playing it out from the back.

He's a world class keeper. We've got an absolute diamond in our ranks.

Do us proud, Jordan! The table's set. Go have and all-you-can-eat buffet, son!

Drew O'Neall
50 Posted 07/07/2018 at 22:09:48
Jamie (#49),

He kicked one straight out and threw another out over the left touchline without bouncing today. I love him too but not sure where you got the timing of that comment from.

Jamie Crowley
51 Posted 07/07/2018 at 22:13:06
One more thing from this druken American idiot.

I am so, so, so thrilled and happy for all of you who are England fans.

This is something special. We are witnessing a team that is truly something to pull for. Everything is lined up for England and I for one, that stupid dope from across the pond spouting shite at every turn and never shutting the fuck up, hope to God in heaven we see England raise that World Cup.

They have the tools to beat Croatia and beat either of France or Belgium. They can do this, no question in my mind.

This is 100% real. They can do this.

It's time to reach for that brass ring and make history.

Jamie Crowley
52 Posted 07/07/2018 at 22:15:05
Drew – I saw both of those.

But have you seen him come out of his 6 and show for the ball? How many times has he pinged a ball 40 yards upfield perfectly?

He's been great. His weakness in his game has been solid as a brick this tournament. Notwithstanding a few over-cooked efforts.

He's been immense buddy. Immense.

Michael Lynch
53 Posted 07/07/2018 at 22:23:58
The semi is on ITV which is a bit shit really. I know Lineker can be a bit of a tit sometimes, ditto Shearer, but the BBC coverage is so much better in my opinion. The only thing ITV has got going for it is Slavan Bilic but he's Croatian so he can fuck right off on Wednesday, eh?
Mike Barrett
54 Posted 07/07/2018 at 22:26:30
Harry Maguire? I don't remember any of you "experts" mentioning him when we bought Michael Keane... wonderful thing, hindsight.
Martin Nicholls
55 Posted 07/07/2018 at 22:33:01
Brian (#22) – good one! I'll be back in time for a few pints on Tuesday afternoon so he can rest easy!
Tony Everan
56 Posted 07/07/2018 at 22:37:34
What a great week for Jordan, I am delighted for him, and bursting with pride that he is an Everton man.

He is a very young keeper and will improve with us too. His heroics will inspire the Everton team next season .

His scintillating form is brilliant news for England and better still for Everton. The buzz and positivity he will bring next season will be a big bonus on top of the new management set-up and quality signings.

Having a world class star on our books puts the ball firmly into Marcel Brands's court. He has got to get the necessary players in. I am sensing the opportunity for a progression for the club into an authentic top 6 outfit and realistic cup challengers.

Derek Thomas
57 Posted 07/07/2018 at 23:35:33
Of the last 8, only Brazil underachieved and that might be only when viewed through my sentimental historic 1970 tinted glasses... they're still not the team they were and may still have the echoes of the 7 the Germans put on them running through their minds. The other 7 have hit what you might imagine to be a minimum pass mark for both coach and team.

Of the now semi finalists, granted the slight possibility Belgium might have had their own cup final vs Brazil, I don't see any of the last 4 having used up all their luck, scraped through on a jammy VAR, deflection or otherwise reached their highwater mark and over -achieved in just making the semis.

It's anybody's to lose now, all in the lap of the football gods, true one-off knockout stuff.

John Boon
58 Posted 07/07/2018 at 23:48:41
I don't see any point regretting that we didn't sign Maguire. We didn't and neither did a host of other teams. I sincerely have hope that Keane will get over his first season jitters and will be able to play with a new central defender. I also think Holgate will mature.

I know fans are getting edgy about the lack of signings but, after last season's calamitous summer, perhaps we need to be far more cautious and make sure that we get players who help the team.

Finally one last time to say, "Thank God Senile Sam has gone!"

Rob Hooton
59 Posted 07/07/2018 at 23:52:22
Maguire has been Man of the Tournament for me thus far, with our Jordan a very close second.

Maguire is commanding in the air and on the deck at both ends of the pitch and brings the ball out with purpose and ability; he is better than Stones in many respects.

Only the 2nd World Cup semi final in my life, I'm well excited! At least I know I won't cry like when I was 10... 😂

Lawrence Green
60 Posted 08/07/2018 at 00:51:23
Maguire has been very good in this tournament as too has Jordan Pickford, but the stand-out England player for me has been Trippier, a hard-working, no-nonsense defender with a winger's ability to deliver the ball into the box.

Kane has had his moments but he seemed to be a little off his game today. I don't think that England can afford the luxury of employing Lingard, Alli and Sterling in the starting line-up against Croatia on Wednesday, but I don't want to see Dier and Henderson in the middle of the park together either.

Today's line-up without Kane firing on all cylinders wasn't as creative as it might have been and given the fact that Jordan had to make 3 good saves in the game, means that Southagate and his management team have their work cut-out finding the right combination in the next few days. However, it's knock-out football so things don't have to be perfect for England to progress.

Brian Linehan
61 Posted 08/07/2018 at 00:57:06
Imagine Pickford, Stones, Fellaini, Lukaku with Bobby Brown Shoes on the sideline. 2018 World Cup Final! Who would have thought it, eh! 😃
Brian Wilkinson
62 Posted 08/07/2018 at 01:11:12
Mike @8

I can assure you a few on here were beating the McGuire drum and saying we should go for him and I know some replies came back saying Keane is a better option None of them were me, but I would like to give a big thumbs up to those that were pointing him out.

Paul Smith
63 Posted 08/07/2018 at 01:11:35
Buzzing my tits off.

Love Everton & England; born in Liverpool from England nuff said.

Rob Hooton
64 Posted 08/07/2018 at 01:14:25
Lawrence (#60).

Quite right, I now feel guilty for leaving Trippier out as he has been excellent – Spurs really hit the jackpot with their fullbacks!

Best all round England performance for many a year –since the Holland match in 96 perhaps?

Paul Kelly
66 Posted 08/07/2018 at 01:41:43
Crowley @ 51. Amen to that!
Phil Sammon
67 Posted 08/07/2018 at 02:51:38
As positivity abounds, I’m going to take this opportunity to point out what I believe are the biggest flaws in Pickford’s game.

The thing that excited me most when we signed him was his distribution. I loved the way he springs to the edge of his box as soon as he has the ball. Some of those long, flat kicks are an absolute joy to behold. HOWEVER, Too many times I have seen him do that chop-style kick and just send the ball into orbit. It’s like he only has one setting, FULL POWER, whether it’s laser guided or just straight up in the air.

It’s even more of a concern when the ball is on the ground, rolling towards him. He frequently launches his entire into body into a, seemingly, simple kick. Both feet leaving the ground as he strikes the ball.

I think the reason these things annoy me so much is because they are completely unnecessary and easily avoidable. If he sorts that, and gets better at parrying away from danger then he really is a top class keeper.

It’s also refreshing to see what a lovely, grounded lad he is. Just like most of this England team actually. Win or lose, these are a bunch of lads you can actually be proud of.

Jamie Crowley
68 Posted 08/07/2018 at 03:52:54
Phil @67-

Yes! And it needs to be said we are completely kint-picking here! Give me Jordan Pickford any day. I think we have a legend in the making.

His distribution has improved SO much in this England side. But...,...

As we NFL-loving Americans would say, he, "outkicks his coverage" often. He often times launches a ball into hyperspace, putting it past the striker!

What I've been impressed with is him showing for the ball with England - he constantly makes himself available with a more play from the back style. It's so refreshing to see.

He will, until he retires, occasionally launch a ball too far. He's not Jesus. He'll make that error.

But he's done so much better with his distribution in my opinion with his national team. It's been wonderful to watch him meander about his box, constantly giving an option for his defenders to play the ball to him.

As he ages the "FULL POWER" kicks will diminish.

We have the makings a a top, top class keeper. We need to let the boy mature and grow. He's a gem.

Jamie Crowley
69 Posted 08/07/2018 at 04:03:22
Brother Kelly at 66-

Amen! Amen! I say to you. The Kingdom of God is at hand!


The Cup is coming home to your island.

Have faith. This team, a real team for the umpteenth time, can do this.

No doubt in my mind. And take my words with real meaning - it's not my country I see this through an objective lens. They can do this.

And if, by chance, they fall short, I sincerely hope most have enjoyed the ride and don't slaughter this team.

They are so worthy of praise. I wish to God America had a team like England have.

Frankly, they're very "American" when you consider it. All work and team. Talent yes, but they really compliment one another and work for one another.

They're great, I love watching them.

You can't say enough about Southgate. My Lord what a fantastic job he's done picking this squad! Top notch managerial performance!

Ed Prytherch
70 Posted 08/07/2018 at 04:15:07
I am surprised and happy that Southgate has done such a good job with a bunch of young players. I used to think that he was a poseur but he must be very good. It seems that the skills required to be a good national team manager are different from those needed to be successful in the Premier League.

I could not understand why we wanted Keane so badly when Maguire was a better player in every way and he captained Hull. But I figured that the experts at Everton could see things that I could not.

This World Cup has been great for Pickford, Trippier, Maguire, Stones and Henderson. They are the guys who have grasped the opportunity and are better players now than they were last season.

We should be able to beat Croatia and I am confident that our guys will rise to the occasion if we make it to the final. Walker makes me nervous and I would like to see Cahill or Jones in his place and Rose should be in for Young because he is a natural left-sided player, but Southgate sees and knows more than I do so I will trust his judgement.

Jamie Crowley
71 Posted 08/07/2018 at 04:20:07

The one maddening thing about this squad is Young constantly stopping to put the ball on his right foot while playing on the left-hand side.

Your point about Danny Rose, a left-footed left back, is well taken.

Drives me nuts watching Young.

Knit-picking. Stay positive! They're going to win this.

Trust Southgate, he's gotten you so far.

Ed Prytherch
72 Posted 08/07/2018 at 04:23:41
In which bar will you be watching the last 2 games?
Jamie Crowley
73 Posted 08/07/2018 at 04:31:56

I have to work Tuesday and Wednesday. So I will be streaming those games. Watching from my desk at the computer at work.

The Sunday final I need to be in Macon, GA for #3 of 5 son's college soccer ID camps. He's gotten some interest from a few colleges - this one's a big deal. A D1 (top college tier) school - Mercer just outside of Atlanta.

So we will travel to Savannah Saturday night staying at my son's apartment there, and wake on Sunday around 7 am to travel to Macon, GA to find an English Pub showing the game, kick-off at 11 a.m. here in the USA.

That is if there's actually an English Pub in Macon, GA! It's the deep, deep south of America, ... but we'll find somewhere to watch.

The camp starts at 2 pm. Perfect timing. ;0)

No rest for the weary / wicked. ;0)

Phil Sammon
74 Posted 08/07/2018 at 06:12:15
The thing with Young at left-back - he has so many opportunities to cut inside and whip in a cross. It seems a great option given how good we've been in the air. But, for some reason, he stops and delays. Young loves to cut in and whip in the ball so I can only assume he's been told not to do it so often. We could have banged in 20+ more crosses last night. I'm sure we'd have netted a couple.
Eddie Fazal
75 Posted 08/07/2018 at 06:20:55
Pickford will continue to develop – he is only 24 years old, very young for a keeper.

People talk about him being small for a keeper, but he is the same height as Neville Southall. If he turns out to be as good, and as loyal, Everton will be very very lucky, and very very grateful.

Dale Rose
76 Posted 08/07/2018 at 07:24:49
A great campaign I hope it goes on to its conclusion as it should. Makes the young player doom and gloom brigade on here look faltering.
Brent Stephens
77 Posted 08/07/2018 at 07:32:17
JaC. Can you explain a bit about the soccer ID camps, colleges and offers?
Alan J Thompson
78 Posted 08/07/2018 at 07:55:33
Reading postings about Pickford's weakness being his kicking reminded me of another goalkeeper whose similar weakness was pointed out by George Best and then demonstrated in the next Home International despite being wrongly ruled out by the referee. If Pickford turns out as well as Gordon Banks then he won't have done too badly.
David Ellis
79 Posted 08/07/2018 at 08:20:13
Its a joy to watch Pickford. He did look a bit unsure in the earlier rounds but after the last two matches he is a national hero.

As for the team... need to keep Ashley Young because of his corner deliveries (one of which led to the first goal). Were it not for that, I would prefer the left-footed Rose.

I think Lingard has been outstanding. Alli and Sterling have both lacked an end product but I think Southgate's strategy of just sticking with them and keep trying to build up their confidence will pay off. Now Alli has scored (and perhaps shaken off his injuries) we'll see more of him. And Sterling does at least cause panic in the opposition defence so is good to have around.

David Ellis
80 Posted 08/07/2018 at 08:23:05
I saw a great comment on the BBC thread. One England post said the Sweden game was a walk in the park. A second poster said that couldn't have been the case because Pickford had to make 3 world class saves.

The first poster then replied saying "You are right. If we'd played without a keeper we may not have won."

David Midgley
81 Posted 08/07/2018 at 08:35:46
If, If, If, If, If — If my aunt had a moustache, she would have been my uncle.
Derek Knox
82 Posted 08/07/2018 at 08:39:39
Obviously, I'm made up for Jordan Pickford, who again pulled off some heroics in goal, and even more so that he is our keeper.

However, I feel the game was the poorest of England's games thus far. I can't understand why, with a squad of 24, Southgate sticks with the virtually the same personnel for each game.

I also appreciate you play your strongest eleven, but hey come on, Ashley Young and Jordan Henderson surely are not the best choices?

It must be disconcerting for the unused squad members, to see those two, limited in their games, and more importantly being so predictable.

Laurie Hartley
83 Posted 08/07/2018 at 08:43:30
I watched the full replay of the game here in OZ via SBS On Demand – for free – Martin Tyler the commentator.

A few things stood out for me in this game:

They come across a terrific bunch of young men.
They are very good in the air.
They defend very well.
They play for each other.

I actually found myself feeling quite proud of them at the end of the game. I remember feeling like that in 1966.

Ray Smith
84 Posted 08/07/2018 at 09:01:27
Michael 53

Your comments about ITV coverage are well placed.

I would also like to say that Gary (Peter Perfect) Neville and Lee Dixon can't hold a candle to Bilic. Get shot of both of them.

Neville is so egotistical that when he is caught out, as he was yesterday, he gets the hump and sulks.

Achievements as a manager:-

Valencia league games, played 16 won 3 (I checked before posting).

England assistant manager – not sure how to put this, but managed to lose to Iceland in the Euro's.

Blames Pickford for the Belgium goal. I don't remember him being a goalkeeper or goalkeeping coach! Perhaps Shilton, Clemence and Seaman are wrong?

Personally, if we beat Croatia, I would keep Bilic and ditch Peter Perfect and Dixon – he may not be English, but he has been there and done it, and he talks sense, regardless.

Phil Williams
85 Posted 08/07/2018 at 09:02:02
Sheesh, David (#81). Does that mean that Auntie Irene is really my Uncle!
Phil Sammon
86 Posted 08/07/2018 at 09:17:19
Laurie (#83),

I bloody hate beady-eyes Tyler at the best of times... but to have to listen to him solo is tantamount to torture. Surley SBS can spring for an additional commentator.

Charlie Dixon
87 Posted 08/07/2018 at 09:27:29
Derek... as much as it pains me to say it, Henderson has been top drawer this tournament.

Take your blue-tinted specs off for a moment. Why would you change a winning team? Southgate has played a blinder and England's No 1 plays for us so just enjoy it!

Laurie Hartley
88 Posted 08/07/2018 at 09:36:28
Phil (#86) – to be honest, I thought Tyler was pretty good. Being a skinflint, it was the free bit that, apart from the football, appealed to me ;).

By the way – I thought that stadium was very impressive.

Bob Parrington
89 Posted 08/07/2018 at 09:49:18
So I stayed up in Australia to watch the game vs Sweden. To be honest, the England side is starting to look pedestrian and completely unimaginative in open play.

Thank "whoever" (I am not religious) for Pickford because I reckon (the unimaginative) Sweden would have won this game. Southgate seems to be docile when it comes to making substitutions and England could well have paid heavily for this.

Personally, I hope he leaves that dick, Henderson, out of the starting 11 and subs Sterling sooner if he is proving to be ineffective.

Also, Walker looks ordinary and Dier (penalty excepted), when he is brought on, seems to add some doubts in to the working of the midfield and defence.

Mike Keating
90 Posted 08/07/2018 at 09:50:45
Michael @53,

Bilic can fuck right off for other reasons including his dive in the 1998 World Cup semi-final which saw Blanc sent off for the first time in his career and missing the final.

I agree with rest of what you say about BBC coverage apart from that baboon Keown. This one from yesterday is only a flavour of the dozy comments dribbling out of his gob:

“There might be someone back home reading a book,” he said, apropos of nothing. “They need to get a life.”

It really put me off the final chapter of War & Peace.

Kase Chow
91 Posted 08/07/2018 at 09:51:29
Derek (#82)

Mate, are you for real? Hendo has been amazing this tournament! It was his through-balls to Sterling that put him one-on-one.

Trust me, it pains me to say it because I'm blue through and through but I honestly don't understand your comments. You're either super biased (in which case, grow up) or don't understand football (which is fair enough if you've never played the game).

Anyway, we're in a semi and as a fan I may see my team pick up a trophy feels amazing!!

Let's hope Everton give us that feeling too in the near future!


(ps: Pickford proving me wrong; I thought (and still think) he's too short... witness Van Dijk's headed winner at Anfield last season. In the 6-yard box, he should have made it his but he doesn't have the size. But he does have other attributes. Come on, Pickford!!!!)

Karl Meighan
92 Posted 08/07/2018 at 09:52:55
England didn't need to produce their best to beat Sweden, who are workmanlike and average imo. Croatia will be tough – two shootout wins, so I expect them to produce in the semi-final. That said, improving and getting your best football out towards the latter end of these tournaments is the important thing and England have done well and should go into the semi-final without fear.

Those asking why didn't we sign Maguire should remember Keane was ahead of him having performed very well for England in two friendly games and looked a excellent signing by Koeman. Watching Maguire, let's hope he's inspired to perform at the top of his game when the new season starts.

Pickford doing his job well – a nice plus for us and nice of Courtois to go in-front of cameras and give his side of the comments he was supposed to have made – something I don't expect of the modern footballer.

Len Hawkins
93 Posted 08/07/2018 at 10:03:07
Rob (#59),

The more I see of Maguire, the more I like. He is like an old-fashioned centre-half – if the ball needs putting in Row Z, then to Row Z it goes... and the opponent with it.

He also can get himself out of trouble with a deft pass and his presence in the opposition area at set pieces is invaluable. I am sure if there was a brick wall between him and getting his head on the ball, he'd go through it.

I think Cahil,l Keane and every other English centre-half will have come to the conclusion that, barring injury with Maguire and Stones, their chances of a game are minimal.

Barry McNally
94 Posted 08/07/2018 at 10:11:22
Michael (#53), it's on BBC too.
Derek Taylor
95 Posted 08/07/2018 at 10:15:33
Karl at (#92), I think you will find that Walsh was instrumental in taking Maguire to Leicester before he came to Everton. When he (Walsh) got here, Keane was all that was left for us – although, to be fair, most considered him the better player at the time!
Mike Keating
96 Posted 08/07/2018 at 10:15:54
That's good, Barry – we get to choose between Bilic or Keown!
Barry McNally
97 Posted 08/07/2018 at 10:19:28
Worse still... Danny Murphy!

BBC will wipe the floor with ITV on ratings.

Mike Keating
98 Posted 08/07/2018 at 10:28:12
Thats settles it, Barry – I'm off to the library for a copy of Finnegan's Wake.
Simon Smith
99 Posted 08/07/2018 at 10:33:23
I'm sorry but those calling for Henderson to be dropped are absolutely crazy. He has become irreplaceable to that team. He doesn't play for Liverpool this summer, he plays for England.
Karl Meighan
100 Posted 08/07/2018 at 11:05:03
Derek @92,

I thought Walsh was at Everton when Maguire signed for Leicester? I would never sign a player as "all that was left". Van Dijk and Tarkowski (who replaced Keane at Burnley) and others could have also been looked at.

I still believe there is a player in there regarding Keane. I would like to see him work on strength and maybe listen to someone like our own Dave Watson but hopefully he will fulfill the potential many saw in him.

Regarding the World Cup, I also think Henderson is doing a useful job – not spectacular but vital. The alternative would probably be Dier who somehow manages to be slower than Henderson.

Kunal Desai
101 Posted 08/07/2018 at 11:21:55
So will Stekelenburg start in goal for all our pre-season games plus a couple of league games assuming Pickford is given time off?
David Midgley
102 Posted 08/07/2018 at 11:23:57
Phil, families are strange!!! Look at the Blue one on ToffeeWeb.
Jack Convery
103 Posted 08/07/2018 at 11:40:54
It appears I've ruffled a few feathers on ToffeeWeb, a first for me. I'd like to point out I do not want Pickford to leave. However, having supported EFC for over 50 years, I've seen this scenario before.

He has practically doubled his value with his performances. His distribution, which is seen by the best coaches as just as important as keeping goal, is excellent. He can join in with the back 3 and the wing backs with no problems.

All this points an offer being made to EFC in the near future, for me. If someone comes in with a £50m offer, we will sell, as he will do a Lukaku and go and play in the Champions League. His agent will see to that. I believe that, in such circumstances, it would be wise to line up a really good replacement, hence my suggestion of Butland who we could get for about £20m.

I love EFC but I know their track record when it comes to making profits on players – and the bigger the profit, the more likely the sale – despite Bills tears. Sorry for any offence caused.

I am enjoying England's journey in Russia as much as anyone and a win would be fantastic, especially as, like most of you, I never thought it would ever happen again – at least in my lifetime.

Go Jordan, Go England – and most of all, COYBs come August!

Derek Thomas
104 Posted 08/07/2018 at 11:48:21
I'll come clean, I wasn't totally anti the whole Ingerland thing, but I was very close to NEA anymore, I mean I'd been there front and centre in 1966 & 1970 but, apart from the Everton connections in 86 and Italia 90, all the failures took their toll.

Come the new century, the Sky-centric selections (tbf, nothing new), the so-called golden generation, the bling, the gold Bentleys, the mega money, often for mini effort... Include me out.

But slowly, they've won me over, despite Sterling and Alli being under-performing show ponies and Young being a one-footed diving Manc... It worked: Southgate has hit upon the England version of KISS – keep it simple, stupid... He's even sorted the penalties, FFS!

Encouraged by this and, it must be said, Jamie Crowley's ever convincing certainty... just don't abuse that power mate, use it for good, the minute you start passing round the Kool-Aid, I'm off.

That having been said, they'll now, with my ringing endorsement, revert to type and crash out... or will they? Who's going to make them? Realistically, only themselves.

Phil Greenough
105 Posted 08/07/2018 at 12:21:47
I don't know why Keane is getting so much stick. Yeah, he wasn't that good last season, but his confidence evaporated, playing in a side that was devoid of it. Let's see how he performs with an improved team around him next season.
Ray Smith
106 Posted 08/07/2018 at 12:26:10
Hooray for Peter Shilton!

Sky Sports News 5 mins ago: Shilton said "Pickford was criticised for the Belgian goal, and went with his wrong hand, but I think he was right" (or words very similar). "Now his critics have gone quiet!"

Well said, Peter, he then had that knowing grin on his face in respect of Gary (Peter Perfect) Neville.

Ed Prytherch
107 Posted 08/07/2018 at 12:46:55
Jamie, I will be watching it in Columbia, SC, not too far from you.
Ray Smith
108 Posted 08/07/2018 at 13:45:20
I promise not to post any more about Gary (Peter Perfect) Neville.

I have just vented my spleen by complaining to ITV and Sky about Peter Perfect, not that it will make any difference, but I feel better.

Ray Smith – patriotic Englishman 😀

Derek Taylor
109 Posted 08/07/2018 at 14:16:51
With due respect, Ray, Neville is entitled to his opinion and is paid to voice it. By complaining to ITV, you merely convince the broadcaster that their temporary employee is doing his job by engaging viewers in their programme.

Relax, it's only a game!

Jay Wood

110 Posted 08/07/2018 at 14:21:51
Dunno how it's being reported in other parts of the world that fellow Blues inhabit but, here in Brazil, Jordan Pickford is getting a very, very good press.

We have a late-night round-up show at the end of each day which features Brazil's former goalkeeper, Julio Cesar. He spoke well about Jordan following the win over Colombia and they dedicated 5 minutes of the 30-minute show to Jordan last night.

The host recalled something Cesar spoke of just a few days ago, how a goalkeeper in particular knows it's going to be his day if he makes a good first save. He linked that to Jordan's post-match comments yesterday which said the same thing.

Cesar then went on to analyze his 3 saves. He highlighted how different each one was: diving left, right and then high. He described the first one to his left at full stretch to then strongly palm the ball away at an angle, not in front of him (something some on TW criticize him for) as better than Lloris's similar save against Uruguay the previous day that was widely praised.

For Cesar, Jordan's second save low to his right was his best save of the three on the day because it was a hard-hit 'grounder' and it is difficult for a keeper to get down so low and quickly in such situations. He finally praised his alertness and reactions for the third effort, high under the bar.

He also praised Jordan's presence and command of his penalty area and defence, all the more so for one so young. Cesar considers him the leading contender for the World Cup Golden Gloves award, should England reach the final.

They also flagged up some of Jordan's stats in this World Cup, such as: the most accurate pass rate of all keepers at this World Cup; the most accurate pass rate of long balls by keepers; the most distance covered by a keeper in-game – 7.5 km vs Colombia, nearly double of the next best.

And of course, Everton's name is getting loads of airtime by association.

How is Jordan Pickford being viewed in other parts of the world...?

Darren Hind
111 Posted 08/07/2018 at 14:25:23
Two more performances like that, Jordan lad, and people will be calling you World Champion for the rest of your life!!!
Brian Williams
112 Posted 08/07/2018 at 14:35:00
Rather annoyingly in one report, it referred to Jordan as "the ex-Sunderland goalkeeper."

Why not just "the Everton goalkeeper" for fuck's sake?

Ray Smith
113 Posted 08/07/2018 at 14:56:31
Derek (#109),

You're right, and I should know better.

But, as you have probably guessed, he gets right up my nose.

Happy days!

Bob Parrington
114 Posted 08/07/2018 at 15:04:23
Brian (#112), Yes, why the fuck do the dipshits do that! Brainless Fuckwits!
Gary Russell
115 Posted 08/07/2018 at 15:07:12
Derek @95.

Walsh came to us on 21 July 2016.

Maguire signed for Leicester in June 2017.



Bob Parrington
116 Posted 08/07/2018 at 15:11:11
Now that we know we're playing Croatia in the semi-finals, it will be a question of the itches and the scratches, I suppose. Too many "itches" (ICs) can be a problem, although I always found we could beat the Croatian sides when I was coaching but... they are passionate and can be really skillful.

England will need to be on their game for this. The benefit might be that they had to play extra-time in their game vs Russia!!!??

Pete Clarke
117 Posted 08/07/2018 at 15:13:44
I think all the high praise being heaped on this England team is a bit over the top. There has not been one moment of supreme skill or movement when it's got me off my seat or given me the wow factor.

Senegal showed glimpses of top joined-up football – as did Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Japan, Morocco, South Korea, Brazil and even Colombia. They have all gone home, of course .

England seem to have this super slow methodical build up which quite often ends up back at Pickford's feet to welly upfield. As games wear on and opposition put pressure on, then poor passes at the back have crept in but we have so far got away with it. The reasons for that are luck and the draw. Better opposition would have taken advantage of this slow ponderous play and lack of backup from some players going awol.

The big plus for me is that they are doing better than expected whereas, with Rooney, Gerrard and Co in the past, they simply let everyone down.

On a biased note, Jordan Pickford has been brilliant and probably kept England in the World Cup. Let's hope he keeps making headlines for the right reasons and carries this form on with the Blues.

I am all for England winning the World Cup but not if they are going to ponce around with it at the back for most of the game and bore the football world shitless.

Jamie Crowley
118 Posted 08/07/2018 at 15:31:48
Brent -

The college ID soccer camps here in the states are held usually at one college, but attended by 6-8 other colleges. So one school holds it, 6-8 total school's coaches attend it to scout the kids playing in them.

There are some ID camps that have upwards of 50 schools at them.

They are the best of intentions, often with the worst of what soccer has to offer here in America.

The best - kids basically from anywhere can choose a college they think would be a good fit for them, and sign up for a camp hoping the coach will like the player and give him an offer to join the team. The kid STILL needs to get into the school academically, but if the coach wants him, the coach will contact admissions and attempt to help get the player accepted into the university.

The worst - these camps cost anywhere from $300 to $1000 to attend. They turn into an alternate income stream for the coaches. This also keeps low income kids away from the college recruiting process. Our country is SO big most of these coaches rely on these camps to identify talent. Soccer doesn't have a massive budget, so most coaches recruit on shoestring budgets and rely heavily on these camps to spot players and bring them into their program. But a few camps out there are simply not recruiting tools, but businesses and nefarious income streams for unethical coaches. Not all, but some.

College soccer here in the states is the end-game for your kid, unless you have THAT kid who's going to make the 25 man USA roster. And that's about as likely as getting an audience with the Pope - ain't gonna happen. So you end up playing for the degree, and attempting to use your soccer skills to get into a better college academically than you would have otherwise.

In college soccer there's D1, D2, and D3 levels. The D3 schools are "smaller" institutions while the D1s are the "big boys" like Michigan State, UCLA, Maryland, Indiana, etc. To make it at the top D1 level is insanely difficult.

One hidden secret about our D1 through D3 level system - the top D3 schools can beat the pants off D1 schools ranked under the top 20 or so. The top D3 schools the soccer is of the highest quality, and the degrees from these schools are usually outstanding - Tufts, Case-Western, NYU, Emory, etc. Some of the top, top academic institutions in the USA. They're just smaller schools, but the best players will go there because they know they aren't USA National Team calibre but they're really good players - and they want the power of the degree those smaller schools offer.

But in summation, you are invited to attend or you simply attend a school's ID camp. If one of the coaches in attendance at that camp is interested in your kid, they'll reach out to you. They'll either offer the kid a spot, or invite them back to another, smaller camp where usually your kid plays with their first team to see how he does. Also, the coach often times will drive to see your kid play in one of his club games or high school games to get a better assessment.

So there you have it - the college soccer landscape in a nutshell.

My second oldest received an offer from Clarkson University and Case Western Reserve University. In the end, he turned both down to attend Florida State and not continue on to play college soccer. He would have had to take out loans to attend Clarkson or CWRU, and he could graduate debt-free from Florida State.

My third son's grades aren't near as good. We're pursuing the college soccer route aggressively with him just to try to ensure he ends up with a degree.

A final opinion on college soccer here in the USA and what's wrong with our system:
When you look at the top D1 schools, their rosters are 75% foreign. American talent hits the college ages and hits a brick wall. The college coaches favor foreigners when they aren't any better than the American kids. They do this 9 times out of 10 because their bosses - the athletic directors at these universities - don't know shit about soccer and think if the coach is bringing in foreign talent, he must be good and know what he's doing. Cue puke sound...,...

Much of the college scene is run by coaches who will blow their budgets on glorified vacations to England, Germany, etc to "scout" kids. They bring 2-3 every year back to the USA and pay their tuitions. If those kids were any good at all, they'd be in a professional team academy.

The coach gets European vacations, stumps the athletic director because he's bringing in foreign talent, and stays gainfully employed while the American college age soccer player is phased out of playing or plays D3 levels. There's no roster spots for the American kid.

One of the reasons we're so fired up for my third son and this camp at Mercer, is because Mercer only has ONE foreign player on the roster from Jamaica. This coach recruits American kids - and that's a really big deal.

Longest post ever

Jay Wood

119 Posted 08/07/2018 at 15:34:08
Peter @ 117.

I don't recognize anything in your description that accurately reflects how England has played in this World Cup over their 5 games to date. And there has been plenty of action to get me out of my seat.

Nor do I recall much (and certainly not sustained) 'top joined up football' from the teams you list.

England is in the semi-final totally on merit, as are the other 3 teams.

John Pierce
120 Posted 08/07/2018 at 16:03:28
Jamie, best post ever!

My job as an official and coach is embroiled with this system, with soccer and field hockey, as you describe where the college sports are abused as vehicles for education.

Sadly, parents like you have little choice to shell out money for camps, training etc to help try and offset the investment via a scholarship.

I coach 14-year-olds and up and the kids hate it. They are made to go by parents who have paid so much money because they have no chance if they don't.

Kids who do make it and play for their education end up burnt out with their sport come 22/23 and many never return to it. Imagine as a kid something you love being that prevalent in your life just to get you an education? It's a heartbreaker.

The ironic thing is, Jamie, scholarship kids are treated like pro-athletes, owned by the school, yet receive none of the benefits, image rights, sponsorship etc. Maybe in the big sports or even Lacrosse, which is wildly popular here.

And you know what, it makes little difference because the same sides in England put together on a whim and done for recreation would destroy college sides here, in part because they do it for fun and want to be there.

JaC, just a superb post.

Mike Gaynes
121 Posted 08/07/2018 at 16:33:25
Outstanding post, Jamie (#118), informative and informed. Many thanks for all that.

American college soccer once had a chance to truly nurture talent. A few visionary coaches saw the potential of mixing overseas players with American talent and melding true footy into an American game. Bob Guelker and Harry Keough at St. Louis University in the '60s, Steve Negoesco at the University of San Francisco in the '70s, Jerry Yeagley at Indiana and my late friend Jose Elgorriaga at Fresno State in the '80s, all understood on a deep level the concept of mixing cultures on the pitch to create a red-white-and-blue soccer culture at the college level. (I saw it firsthand – as an NCAA referee I ran the line for an Indiana-Fresno game in 1982, when they were #1 and #2 in the country, and watching Jerry and Jose work their teams was extraordinary.)

But there weren't enough of them. College basketball has had dozens of brilliant coaches who truly understood how to grow a player as well as the game. In college soccer, they never really appeared. Instead, the game was taken over by the cornfed corporate coaches who still, according to Jamie's account, still own it today – and have run it into the ground. This ceiling for talent isn't glass, it's concrete... there's just no development. College soccer today isn't just a dead end for the players – it's also unwatchable, and that spills over into the destination for top collegians, which is MLS. I can't watch MLS games.

John (#120), by your account, the same corporate attitude has taken hold at the youth level as well. And, sadly, I believe that means the game will never be what it could have been in The States. I share little of the optimism for the game's potential that soccer buffs have expressed for the last 40 years. If the US ever does win the World Cup, it'll be with players who abandoned our shores to develop in Europe. Christian Pulisic is the vanguard.

Brent Stephens
122 Posted 08/07/2018 at 16:38:09
JaC. I really appreciate your time in composing that reply. Really interesting. I'm aware of some of the smaller but apparently quality academic institutions like Tufts.

That post is so interesting it's possibly worth duplicating as a TW article or whatever?

I hope your lad and the rest of the offspring get what they want and deserve.

John G Davies
123 Posted 08/07/2018 at 16:41:19
A couple of very interesting articles in the Sunday Times today.

Souness giving Belgium and Martinez a glowing testimonial. And the Belgian players praising Martinez's tactical awareness and flexibility.

John Pierce
124 Posted 08/07/2018 at 16:53:20
The saddest part, Mike, is that the coaches, especially at D1-D3 level and NCAA are not concerned with nurturing or even producing a different style, just their job and reputation.

The system is littered with European coaches who you'd think would instill and bring different thought process, ideas etc. But the bottom line is the dollar and their own security. They revert to tried and tested American ways of hustle and hard work. Most virtuous and it gets you a ‘never quit' ethic but it chides the flourishing of the maverick, and the dribbler. It makes players rigid in formation and scared to take chances, because the coach makes all the decisions, ultimately because they worry about their job!

Very few programs do I see coaches empower their charges to take decisions, make mistakes on the field and get them to put it right.

To yank it back to the thread, that's exactly what I see Southgate doing, Empowerment.

I could sit and drink and yak about this for hours, it's a fascinating topic.

Brent Stephens
125 Posted 08/07/2018 at 17:00:25
#122 last para “hope” not “home”.
Will Mabon
126 Posted 08/07/2018 at 17:17:26
Jamie, John, Mike – thanks for all that, very interesting.
Julian Wait
127 Posted 08/07/2018 at 17:26:35
Re. Walker – I would perhaps rest Walker for the semi-final, and I agree he's not added much going forward, perhaps by instruction (with Trippier there, and it allows Maguire to surge more); however, Walker has been impressive / necessary when acting like a sweeper behind Maguire. We will need his pace in the last game, whichever game/team we play (against the pace of Mbappe or Lukaku).

Re Maguire – I have to say I was impressed when I saw him play for Hull at Chelsea in early 2017; I suggested on these pages we might look at him, but I did have reservations as I'd only seen him play that once and he did seem a bit slow on the turn – and he was a bit of a "big unit" at the time; he looks very trim now. I think the back 3 suits him, and kudos to Southgate for making that work.

Michael Kenrick
128 Posted 08/07/2018 at 17:43:48
Peter Clarke (#117) – nailed it for me. England are still pretty much crap for me to watch in terms performance — painfully slow in the build-up — although they are almost miraculously pulling their tripe out in terms of results, with massive credit to Sunderland's own [sic] Jordan Pickford.

Too conservative in attack, and it shows with what? How many goals from open play? While as you say, so many of the flair, pacey, exciting teams have gone home already. It's enough to make me think fondly of Roberto's Belgium!

John Pierce
129 Posted 08/07/2018 at 17:56:18
Surely the style of play is instant recognition of the paucity of player available?

My feeling is Southgate is very aware of his playing stock and its limitations.

Take the back three. As individuals you'd never pair any of them in a back four, perhaps Stones, maybe. But all have clear deficiencies. Southgate has moulded them into one unit which mostly covers the faults and creates something more coherent.

Walker has pace, Maguire aerial ability, Stones reads the game well and can play out. He's even allowed to jump in to win the ball now the other two can bail him out. All have been asked to try and bring it out with varying degrees of success.

Many rightly questioned Maguire when we signed Keane, in a back four he looks extremely vulnerable; in a back three, far less so.

So yes, England's methodology is stilted and not super exciting sometimes... but it's blended and brings more from the sum of its parts.

Everton have cried out for that since Kendall. Not all teams can have 11 stars, England I believe have found players who complement each other and accentuate their strengths.

Ray Smith
130 Posted 08/07/2018 at 18:54:36
Peter 117 and Michael 128

What’s up with you two!!!!

Get a life, we are on the brink of winning the World Cup and all you both do is bury you head in the sand!

Glad I’m not in your company. We would lose every game with you two pessimists.

Get a life!!!!

Jay Harris
131 Posted 08/07/2018 at 19:07:54
Add me to that list.

I think England have been very lucky so far. The only big team we have faced so far is Belgium's "B" team and we lost that.

I think Southgate has to be given some credit for working the players on scoring from free kicks and corners but, for me, the team has looked totally unbalanced with nothing in midfield at all and little creativity while looking suspect under pressure..

Alli should be up-front with Kane or left out and Walker or Trippier should be right-back or wing-back but both play the same sort of game so it detracts from Walker's game to be played as a third centre-back.

I also think Raheem Sterling has been largely impotent. Rashford and Loftus-Cheek must be wondering what they have to do to get a game.

Mike Gaynes
132 Posted 08/07/2018 at 19:12:06
John Pierce, agree with both posts. I see Southgate exactly as you do, and give him great credit for maximizing England's assets, such as they are. I hope and expect he has earned a long tenure in his post.

He'll be truly tested now against a more talented and equally well-coached Croatia. I know nothing of Dalic, but he has put together a side that combines sophistication with extraordinary passion. All things being equal, I would expect Croatia to win, but exhaustion may even the odds.

John G Davies
133 Posted 08/07/2018 at 19:13:46
In my opinion, England are an average side that have taken advantage of a lucky draw. No midfield to talk of: Alli, Henderson, and Lingard would not get on the bench for Belgium or France.

England leave far too much space in front of the back three, they can't keep the ball and are wide open to counter-attack. I hope they go on to win it for Pickford but feel either France or Belgium will be a step too far; Croatia is no easy game either.

Steve Ferns
134 Posted 08/07/2018 at 19:26:43
Interesting to read about the Soccer Schools in America. Do you guys know what happened to Tosh Farrell? From his website it appears he is back in England now.

If memory serves me correctly, he was the very highly rated Everton children's coach (website lists players from Rooney to Barkley) who was the pioneer of the "Everton Way". This was a concept the club (or Farrell) came up with that tried to franchise our coaching methods, particularly in America. He then left Everton, set up shop in America and the "Everton Way" quickly vanished. No idea what happened but it seemed like Tosh fell out with the hierarchy (late Moyes era) and took the coaching programme with him. It seems like it didn't do too well without the Everton name attached.

If anyone can shed any light on this, I'd be very interested. He was a brilliant coach at the youngest levels and is credited with developing skills in the all round games of kids, as well as ensuring that kids of all abilities retained enjoyment in the game. He was also said to focus on developing the kids rather than focussing on team achievements.

Darren Hind
135 Posted 08/07/2018 at 19:35:55
Sterling getting stick from all sides? I don't get it. Not one team left in this competition will fancy facing him. He is the archetypal shape destroyer.

Pep and Southgate don't play this guy for his vision or his composure in front of goal; they play him because no other player will take defenders where they don't want to go like he does. His pace has opposition teams stretched out like a washing line.

I`m expecting something special from him before this tournament is done. I believe England will beat Croatia and I believe Sterling will be instrumental in the victory.

Deschamps and Martinez have talent at their disposal which is head and shoulders above everyone else and anything short of lifting the trophy will be deemed in some quarters as failure. Southgate has no such problem and my money's on him to outfox whichever one of them wins their personal duel.

John Pierce
136 Posted 08/07/2018 at 19:48:51
Darren, so right. Whatever the issues with Raheem the person, if there are any? I've no qualms with his inclusion on the side, stretches opposite numbers and we have no player close to him in that role.

That space is for Alli to get close to Kane and Lingard to move into. As I eluded to in a previous post, it's about getting the most out of that unit, balance and not getting too down on one player's perceived lack of output.

Steve Ferns
137 Posted 08/07/2018 at 19:50:49
Darren, what you say about Sterling is very true. It doesn't stop you being infuriated when he misses those golden chances though!

Isn't it interesting that Lingard seems to avoid any stick. That lad is clearly giving his all, but suffers from a lack of world class quality. Sterling is also giving his all, but his style makes people think he is less bothered and, as a result of spurning some glorious chances that no one else is getting, he's getting the bulk (of the very small) criticism that England have faced.

I'll happily admit being very frustrated with him in game, but what you said is right.

Don Alexander
138 Posted 08/07/2018 at 20:35:41
Congrats and more to our Jordan, he's becoming THE man in the team. That said, the football England have played is kinda mundane to me, and that goes for most, not all, of the other games I've watched too. I think football's forgotten what its core purpose is years ago as risk-aversion eats away at creativity. That said, one of the greatest international teams I ever saw, Holland with Cruyff, Neeskens, Krol and the rest, never won a thing so what do I know, ha-ha!
Paul Tran
139 Posted 08/07/2018 at 21:24:12
Darren, you're spot-on re Sterling. He's worked his socks off, creating problems and space for others. His poor finishing doesn't alter that. I'd start him on Wednesday.

The other three semi final teams have more on paper than England, but I'm hoping our momentum, organisation and desire will be enough. I'd argue Southgate's got more out of his squad than the other three coaches.

Eric Paul
140 Posted 08/07/2018 at 21:26:50
What Southgate has at his disposal is far more potent than talent and skill, which he has created is togetherness. A team of individuals will never overcome a team that is together both on and off the pitch. Book next Monday off
Ray Smith
141 Posted 08/07/2018 at 21:42:11
Stop nit picking and get behind the team.

I watched our 1966 success and would love to chalk 2 successes in my lifetime.

Why can’t you doubters stop being fatalists.

Get a life and support your team!!!!

Paul Tran
142 Posted 08/07/2018 at 21:43:43
I'd love to see a first, Ray!
Dennis Stevens
143 Posted 08/07/2018 at 21:55:05
Getting past Croatia would be a great achievement, but I think the eventual winner will come from the other semi. The exciting thing for England, imo, is that they have already done so well with a fairly young team & a relative novice as manager. The next few years could potentially be a golden age for the England team.
Jay Harris
144 Posted 08/07/2018 at 22:01:09

Player for player the 66 team were head and shoulders above this lot but still had quite a bit of luck playing most if not all of their games at Wembley.

The skill of George Cohen, Ray Wilson, Bobby Moore, Alan Ball, Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst not to mention one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time Gordon Banks and co allied to the dour determination and organization of Alf Ramsey made us proud but it still didn't stop old nitpickers like me complaining about Jimmy Greaves being left out.

I would love to see us win it again but I just can't see it.

Steve Ferns
145 Posted 08/07/2018 at 22:05:30
Dennis, don't forget that in addition to the current side (many of whom will still be in their 20s next time round), there is also the u20 world cup winners and the u18 world cup winners to break through. Very exciting times ahead. I just hope at least a few of our 6 world cup winners can step up.
Jay Wood

146 Posted 08/07/2018 at 22:05:40
No team in this WC has made a strong case that we are witnessing the champions elect. That's what has made it so fascinating.

Anyone of the four semi-finalist can lift the trophy next Sunday. Any one of the four teams can beat the other in a one-off game.

Given the recent successes in major international tournaments by England I agree with Dennis @ 143: The next few years could potentially be a golden age for the England team.

Dennis Stevens
147 Posted 08/07/2018 at 22:13:14
Absotively, Steve. I'm hoping the youngsters who break into the England squad over the next few years will improve the quality of player available to Southgate.
Colin Glassar
148 Posted 08/07/2018 at 22:20:16
I think for Euro 2020 we will see DCL and Tom Davies line up for England. With a bit of luck, Lookman, Kenny and Holgate will be there as well.
Steve Ferns
149 Posted 08/07/2018 at 22:25:44
That would be a dream Colin. It would also mean they're doing the business for the blues too!
Tony Abrahams
150 Posted 08/07/2018 at 23:02:35
I thought John@129, had given the best post on this thread, but Darren, might have just edged it, after his description of Sterling.

I was listening to a drunken fella yesterday, telling me Sterling was shite. I disagreed with him, so was asked to give examples of why he wasn't shite. I said I thought he would be one of the best players in the world, if he could just get the last bit right.

He sniggered when I said I'm not sure he ever will, but only until I said that to criticise any England player right now, surely only comes from people who don't understand the concept of a team?

Sterling missed chances, he should have wrapped the game up, but he was constantly working the Swedish defenders, especially with his running in-behind, and was as responsible for yesterday's victory as much as any player.

The last thing defenders want to do is keep having to run, and although Sterling was wasteful, I reckon he had those Swedish heads spinning, especially playing in that heat?

Jamie Crowley
151 Posted 08/07/2018 at 23:16:12
Sterling is infuriating with his finishing.

But he does open up acres of space, and defenses are scared shitless of him.

For that reason he has to stay in the lineup.

Southgate will not change the starting 11. He'll substitute any ineffective players later in the game.

Players have good games and bad games. Ronaldo, Messi, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Lebron James, Sidney Crosby - doesn't matter the sport.

Southgate has viable options to make changes when needed. Yet another strength of this squad.

Driving home today I listened to an archived Talk Sport from yesterday after the win, and they had on this absolute muppet former player. Don't know the name, he was Welsh, and it wasn't Robbie Savage. Any rate, all he did was talk about the deficiencies of the England squad.

I couldn't believe my ears to be honest.

England are in the semis of the World Cup and most of the players have played extremely well.

I hope they win just so I can possibly hear one single show praising the team!

If Jesus Christ himself started up top and bagged five goals, someone in England would criticize him for being selfish or some such absurd thing.

Mike Keating
152 Posted 08/07/2018 at 23:20:40
Steve (149) & Colin (148) Good shout - except they’ll be playing for ManUre by then.
Jay Wood

153 Posted 08/07/2018 at 23:21:47
Nice write up on the BBC on Jordan Pickford just gone up:


Karl Meighan
154 Posted 08/07/2018 at 23:44:53
Did I read this has been an average World Cup? Hardly any games without goals, shocks, great games and England in the semi's — this is the tournament that just keeps giving.

Most England midfielders maybe wouldn't get on Belgium's or France's bench but, by the same token, most Brazil players would walk into any team — as would Ronaldo and Messi, who are no longer there, and all would swap places.

To win a tournament like the World Cup, a shootout win and bit of luck will always be needed, taking advantage is the important thing.

I for one don't believe Croatia are better man for man; for a start, Lovren and Vida are both shite, frightened to death of pace, and their keeper should be tested on crosses. They have quality but, let's not forget, they have needed two shootout wins against possibly worse sides than England have faced.

Pete Clarke
155 Posted 09/07/2018 at 00:31:12
I am not buyring my head in the sand, Ray. It was just an opinion of how I see an England team play.

I have watched a lot of the World Cup games and some of the skill and movement from the likes of Japan have left me thinking about our coaching methods. We just don't seem to have that entertainment factor at all.

I think it may take England to go a goal down to spark them into life because they have got out of jail on a few occasions trying to play the slow game.

Personally, from a football point of view, I would love to see a new nation crowned World Champions just to round off a brilliant World Cup but, if England do win it, I hope they at least do it with a bit of flair as the world is watching.

Don Alexander
156 Posted 09/07/2018 at 01:03:37
Peter (#155) in my opinion you've basically seen "The Emperor Without Clothes" in this World Cup, and I agree with you. Skill-wise in the last four contenders the winners of France/Belgium (talent in abundance in every position, but what about their "hearts"?) should stroll to the trophy but, sadly to me, the mental flakiness of the modern-day self-absorbed "super-star" means a team as fundamentally mundane as England or Croatia may just prevail. It might be a good thing though.
Darren Hind
157 Posted 09/07/2018 at 01:18:15
England haven't been wildly exciting in the last couple of games.

The up side of being in their side of the draw was they got to play against "easier" teams. The down side is they have had to play against teams who would not come out to play.

Not many sides could have entertained against a Colombian side who abandoned the rules completely and a Swedish team who didn't move out of their half until they were two down.

David Barks
158 Posted 09/07/2018 at 01:25:27
I found the game against Sweden entertaining. I saw plenty of missed opportunities where the ball was played into great spaces but Sterling or someone else would waste the chance and hold it too long. I think “professional” would be the way to describe the Sweden game.
Rick Tarleton
159 Posted 09/07/2018 at 08:02:15
Wasn't Tim Howard called the greatest goalie in the world after a World Cup? I didn't believe that either.
Tony Abrahams
160 Posted 09/07/2018 at 12:30:44
The yanks went mad for Howard – it's what a World Cup does to people.

England are hopefully only going to get better, Peter, because Southgate's first job has been to sort his team out from the back.

I've said they are one or two midfielders away from being the best team in the tournament; once they find that type of player that's needed, then maybe they will become so much more fluid.

I agree, Japan, were a joy to watch, especially in that game against Belguim. Great energy, Great movement, great skill, but I've yet to see a better defender on the ball than John Stones, and you can see how much confidence the rest of the team have got in him when he's got the ball.

Walker has the pace, Maguire has the strength and Stones has the quality; like John Pierce said, they all seem to both compliment and really trust each other.

Dennis Stevens
161 Posted 09/07/2018 at 13:09:37
Jamie (#151), I doubt Jesus would be playing up top, seeing as he's a goalie – everybody knows Jesus saves! Can get pinned down on crosses though I'll get me coat
Jamie Crowley
162 Posted 09/07/2018 at 15:55:28
Rick @159 -

Yes, we went certifiably apeshit for Tim Howard four years ago.

Not too sure about anyone ever saying he was the greatest keeper in the world, but we were damn proud of him.

He absolutely stood on his head that tournament. He was amazing.

It is true though, the World Cup can definitely over-inflate player's values!

Dennis - grab your coat. ;0)

Pete Clarke
163 Posted 09/07/2018 at 16:36:59
I wish them all the best in this World cup but – if that ball keeps making its way back to Pickford to hammer upfield – then I will crack up. That kind of football drives me mad.

I imagine both France and Belgium would press high up and give us more problems than we have had so far and that's when you need a good midfielder to pick the ball up from the defenders and open things up offensively. I don't think we have that so it will be Hoofballs coming home if we get to the final.

Kane and Alli need to be fresh for the Croatia game and I think Rashford should be given a run as we definitely need high energy in there.

I live in hope of seeing us play the beautiful game.

Bill Griffiths
164 Posted 09/07/2018 at 17:07:41
Can't believe the stick England are getting from some of their fans. I'm Welsh and mostly enjoy seeing them struggle and flatter to deceive at Championships. This time, I think they have shown a lot of progress under Gareth Southgate, again a man who I didn't rate at all as a club manager but who has thrown together a young squad who I think will only get better.

I agree that they have had fairly easy games on paper but so have many other England teams in the past but were found wanting. I expect England to beat Croatia but think winning the final against either Belgium or France would be difficult.

Personally I hope Belgium win it but worry they may not have the mental toughness to do so. I've enjoyed England doing well this time as I'm made up for Jordan Pickford.

Tony Abrahams
165 Posted 09/07/2018 at 18:56:05
I don't think they will get past France, Bill, but I hope they do, especially if England can find enough to beat Croatia?
Darren Hind
166 Posted 09/07/2018 at 18:59:48
Agreed, Tony

Maguire has been like the incredible hulk at times, incredible power and no mug with the ball at his feet either, but Stones has been majestic, he is the one calling the shots, spreading the wing backs and getting them tucked in again. It's stones who pulls Henderson's strings and its Stones who moves us up five, then drops us back again. Its Stones who will bravely offer when others want it lumped. He's still a novice in center half terms, but there is a decade in front of him and I still think he is going to the very top.

Stones and Lukaku have split opinion amongst Everton ranks in recent years, both have been criticised as much as they have been praised... but, if we have learned anything from this World Cup, it's that both have come a long way in a short time; no longer big babies. The gangly clanger merchant has a gym body and plays with ice in his veins and the lumbering lazy fucker who could control a ball further than he could kick it, has pace and power I've not seen since Ronaldo (the buck-toothed one).

Both wanted out, so the club had to sell. but I live in hope that one day we will have a club that doesn't have to sell, one which nobody wants to leave.

It seems a little bizarre to imagine that, in five days time, we could be watching three players who have, in recent seasons, asked to leave Everton, playing in the World Cup final. Let's just hope the one who remains gets all of the glory.

Steve Ferns
167 Posted 10/07/2018 at 12:43:27
Jordan Pickford: How good does he want to be?

Superb Article in The Guardian by a certain Neville Southall, I wonder what his credentials are!

Big Nev gives the low down on our number one and essentially says he's got everything he needs to be the best in the world. Well, it takes one to know one.

Gerard McKean
168 Posted 10/07/2018 at 13:09:57
Totally in agreement with Steve (#167) that it is a superb article. As always, Nev calls it like it is and as well as praising Jordan he finds time to rubbish Trump, May and Brexit. No wonder Barrett-Baxendale is nervous about Nev!
Steve Ferns
169 Posted 10/07/2018 at 13:31:33
Well, Nev tweeted me that he was "very" optimistic, and that it "looks like fresh start" at Everton. So Denise can rest a little easier, but she needs to keep up the hard work, as there is a lot more to be done.
Tony Abrahams
170 Posted 10/07/2018 at 13:36:16
Thanks for that link, Steve. I saw it before and ignored it, but also thanks to Gerard, because I don't think I will read anything better today.
Jay Wood

171 Posted 10/07/2018 at 13:37:51
I like Neville Southall. If Jordan Pickford gets close to being two-thirds as good as Nev for Everton, I'll be a very happy man.

Socially and politically I fancy I am in sync with Nev on many issues.

However, I thought his article tripped over itself with too many repeated cliches on leading political figures and politics in general. Nev would have done better to stick to a straightforward footy piece on Jordan, rather than dilute his analysis on the player as he did with unoriginal references to the political scene.

Derek Taylor
172 Posted 10/07/2018 at 14:13:23
Sadly, these days Neville talks as much tripe as that revered manager of Fleetwood.

The greatest goalie I ever saw but he now thinks he is a great philosopher — which he sure ain't!

Tony Abrahams
173 Posted 10/07/2018 at 14:17:38
Jay, the minute people talk politics, they usually start tripping over themselves, but I thought Southall gave a great description of this England squad, and the fact that he used these phoney politicians to help big them up will, I'm sure, be very gratifying to the present squad, who have probably had the 'Golden Generation' (my arse) rubbed right down there throats off too many phoney politicians friends (journalists) for way too long.

He said everything he needed to say on Pickford: no diluting, great feet, great agility, but to be the best you have got to work the hardest, and I'm sure once he reads this article, it will only help to push our young keeper, down that very road?.

Honesty and integrity have been missing for years and to see it return has probably been the most refreshing thing to see in this young England squad.

Jay Wood

174 Posted 10/07/2018 at 14:40:16
Just a question of style and personal preference, Tony.

Nev's cliched political ramblings distracted from the prime reason I clicked on the link: to read the evaluation of one Everton great goalkeeper on the current incumbent of Everton's (and his nation's) number 1 jersey.

Tony Abrahams
175 Posted 10/07/2018 at 14:57:22
That's fair enough Jay, but I've just been watching Trump on Sky News, saying how much he likes Boris Johnson, and it's probably the funniest thing I'm going to see and hear today!
Jay Wood

176 Posted 10/07/2018 at 15:13:00
I'll have to search that out Tony.

Those two are well matched. They look like they were separated at birth. The pair of them always make me recall the Strawman in Wizard of Oz for some reason...


Brian Porter
177 Posted 11/07/2018 at 08:41:20
Has anyone else noticed and become increasingly irritated by the constant references in the media of Jordan Pickford as 'the former Sunderland shot-stopper' rather than 'the Everton goalkeeper / shot-stopper'?

Am I being paranoid or is this yet another example of anti-Everton reporting by the media? I wouldn't mind if it was just an occasional reference but it seems to be in virtually every report or article in which Pickford's name is mentioned. Do they refer to say, Fabian Delph as 'ex-Villa star' or John Stones as ' the former Everton defender'? Of course not. I wonder why.

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