Viet Nam News
So due to time differences and the fact I wasn’t going to stay up until 4am to write this column, England will either be in the final of Sunday’s World Cup or not.
I’m not going to stick my neck on the line and look foolish by predicting a winner, but I will say this… it will be either England or Croatia in the final.
Setting aside winning or losing, this has been a remarkable, if not completely surprising, World Cup for my home nation.
Yet despite equaling their best ever finish in 28 years, when they were knocked out in the semi-final on penalties by Germany at Italia 90, there still seems to be a group of ‘fans’ out there not happy.
I’m not talking about the loyal supporters over in Moscow, or those who were no doubt crammed into a bia hơi earlier today cheering on those in white, I’m talking about the keyboard warriors, probably lacking in friends and general social skills, who sit in their bedrooms all day with nothing better to do than slag people off.
Take Raheem Sterling for example. Amazing talent, amazing player and arguably England’s most skillful forward.
So far this tournament he’s not found the back of the net but he has played well. Very well against Sweden.
Sure, he made the wrong choice when one on one in the first half of that match and probably should’ve scored or at the very least squared to a team mate for an easy tap-in, but does that warrant the level of criticism he’s been getting? No.
And then there’s Jordan Henderson. Now cards on the table here, I’m a little biased towards the Liverpool captain as that is my team, but during the Columbia match he missed a penalty and was lambasted by the above mentioned saddos with nothing better to do while they wait for their mothers to cook their dinner and bring it upstairs, leaving it outside and not daring to come in.
Henderson is a dirty work player. He’s not going to grab the winner after dribbling through the defence and blasting into the top corner, but he will chase back, hassle and niggle at the opposition like a terrier. He also never stops running. Ever.
England’s win against Sweden in the quarters was the 30th game Hendo has played for his country and not lost. No mean feat.
So to those who felt it necessary to open Photoshop and create memes about these two players in the hopes of getting a few thousand clicks, likes and shares, you need to get out more. Open the curtains in the bedroom you spend most of your lives in, and try and find yourselves a life.
Speaking of England, you have to say, win or lose versus Croatia, Gareth Southgate has played an absolute blinder. A young manager with limited experience, he has grabbed this England squad by the scruff of the neck and taken it to a level no one expected.
And remember this. He was only ever caretaker manager.
After Big Sam Allardyce was caught on camera by an undercover journalist making derogatory comments about the England set-up, Southgate stepped in as temporary boss.
Nobody, me included, wanted him to take the job full time and we all thought he was just keeping the seat warm waiting for a Benitez, a Conte, or a Mourinho to take the position.
Thankfully that never happened and England found themselves, granted by luck, with a young, hungry coach with bright ideas and a dogged determination to succeed. The likes of which we’ve not seen since the late, great Sir Bobby Robson.
Right now as I sit and write this, the only thing for certain is that France will be in the final of the World Cup on Sunday. And boy will they take some beating.
Kylian Mbappe is not of this planet. At 19 years old he is probably the best player in the world right now of his age group and he is spearheading a strong French team who no doubt will be favourites in Moscow on Sunday.
But over 90 minutes, plus maybe extra time and penalties, nothing in football is ever a sure thing.
Still the GOAT
So Christiano Ronaldo has left Real Madrid for a new challenge in Italy.
I’m a little shocked he chose Juventus and thought a reunion with Jose Mourinho was on the cards back at Old Trafford.
It raised the debate once more who is the best in the world, Ronaldo or Messi, and for me, it’s always been the boy from Maderia. But not for the reasons you might think.
My thought process is not determined on skills, endurance, performance or passing. I’ve not come to my conclusion because of goals, medals or awards.
The reason I think Ronaldo is better than Messi is because I think he would be a nicer bloke to have a beer with.
He seems far more genuine, more likeable and much more of a laugh.
But from a football perspective, I’ll bow to the greater knowledge possessed by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
He knows a little more about the game than me, and Fergie said if the chips are down, if the wind is howling around the football pitch on a cold December evening, it’s Ronaldo who will deliver.
He could have gone for an easy life and headed to China for his final swansong but he’s decided to test his skills in Serie A. And you know what? I think he’ll be nothing more than sensational and very, very cool at the same time. — VNS