Sunday, May 19, 2019

Why leaking the team should not harm England against Panama

David Nugent in Editorial, World Cup 23 Jun 2018

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There has been a big furore about England coach Steve Holland leaking the starting line-up ahead of the Three Lions second group game at the World Cup against Panama on Sunday lunchtime.

The British media are on the defensive about criticism of their tactics. However, they often undermine the England team by using underhand tactics, slurs and even sting operations, remember Sven or Sam Allardyce?

However, this should not be an excuse for England failing to beat one of the weakest teams in the competition. England should beat Panama whether the team has been leaked or not.

Gareth Southgate has a pretty settled line-up

In all honesty, most people could pick nine of the starting eleven for England anyway.  Boss Gareth Southgate has a settled starting line-up and nine of those will start against Panama.

The only two likely changes would be Dele Alli missing out through injury and Marcus Rashford replacing Raheem Sterling. If Alli misses out on the starting eleven then Chelsea youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek will come into the side.

It is a close call between Sterling and Rashford, just as it was before the first game of the tournament. The Manchester City player did not enjoy the best of games against Tunisia in the opener.

However, he came into the World Cup off the back of the best season of his career. For me, I would stick with Sterling just so he does not lose heart, as he has come in for ridiculous media attention in the past and is still a young player. He also has bags of ability.

Rashford could still make an impact off the bench later in the game. The Manchester United youngster has shown a very mature approach during interviews. Most notably, he stated that the team is the most important thing and that everybody in the squad is needed for the Three Lions to succeed in Russia this summer. I doubt it would affect his confidence to sit on the bench for another game.

England should beat Panama comfortably

In terms of technical ability and sheer quality, Panama are not in the same league as England. The Central American country are playing in their first World Cup and should be dispatched by any self-respecting European football nation.

However, this is the World Cup and as recent results have shown, upsets can happen. Panama held Belgium in their opener for the first half, but the Red Devils quality showed in the second half, as they ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.

England are big favourites at odds of 2/9 to beat Panama. If they do not, then the Three Lions do not deserve to progress past the group stages of the competition, it is as simple as that.

Media should get behind the team

At times, it is almost as if the English media are trying to sabotage the England team. The Three Lions doing well and winning games does not sell papers or get people to visit websites.

There are some English journalists out there, who can talk sense. However, when it comes to England they seem to believe that anything goes and they have free reign just to weigh in on the team.

I cannot say I have not criticised the England team or individuals in the past decade, but I try to keep it about football. I do not like to talk about players private lives or go through their bins like some sort of demented Sherlock Holmes.

I also try to be realistic about England’s chances at major tournaments. I feel I have been fair with my assessment of Gareth Southgate and his team in the run-up to the World Cup.

As an Englishman, I will get behind the team. I just wish some of my compatriots in the press would take a day off and watch the game as a fan.

Like I said earlier in the article the fact that somebody has leaked the teamsheet should not be used as an excuse. In truth, anything other than a victory will be highly disappointing for Southgate and his inexperienced team. The press would be wetting their knickers over an England defeat.

Will England beat Panama on Sunday afternoon?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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