So that’s it, then. No plans for final day; stay in bed, drift away. It could have been all songs in the street, it was nearly complete, it was nearly so sweet…
But no. Wipe the Three Lions memes off your phone, cancel the open top bus parade, and treat this Sunday just like every other end-of-weekend misery that it is. England’s World Cup dream is over for another four years after they crashed out at the semi-final stage to a team of geriatrics and Luka Modric. Welcome back grim reality, it’s nice to see you again.
With Brazil, Germany, Spain and Argentina all falling by the wayside, this was England’s best chance to reach a World Cup final in a generation. We could’ve gone to Moscow with a nation roaring behind the team and ended 52 years of hurt. But when it really mattered, we fell short. Again.
Sobering times call for sobering honesty. So let’s do away with the post-defeat mollycoddling for a moment and be frank about how we find ourselves in this situation.
It’s all Tottenham Hotspur’s fault.
Let’s look at the evidence. Akin to West Ham winning England the World Cup in 1966, Spurs fans have long been bigging up this team as “one of their own” given the plethora of Tottenham influence in there.
This Three Lions squad contains current Spurs players Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Kieran Trippier, Dele Alli and captain Harry Kane – half of a plausible outfield starting XI. Which is all well and good, assuming they know how to win big together.
But if recent footballing history has taught us anything, it’s that Tottenham Hotspur are bottlejobs. We know it, you know it, Rachel Riley knows it.
They bottled the Premier League title race in 2016, crumbling altogether and inexplicably ending up below bitter rivals Arsenal. They fell short again in the league in 2017. They blew it against Juventus in last season’s Champions League. And, neatly setting the tone for this World Cup, they’ve lost their last EIGHT FA Cup semi-finals in a row, including both 2017 and 2018.
It’s hardly surprising, then, when you realise all of those Tottenham players were on the pitch playing out the end of the immensely disappointing evening in Moscow, bar Kieran Trippier’s late withdrawal through injury. Hell, even Kyle Walker regressed from his title-winning ways at Man City and embraced his inner Tottenham bottlejob spirit.
Even with the greatest – and most sartorially gifted – manager in international football at the helm, we didn’t have a chance. If you fill a team with Tottenham DNA, it’s clear for all to see that you will fall short when it really matters. Honestly, did we really expect anything else?
So now what?
We’ve got the nonsense of the third/fourth place play-off against Belgium to come on Saturday evening, where the team will inevitably be mixed up to give those players consigned to the bench thus far some playing time. With the Spurs contingent likely to make way, we may actually have a decent chance of winning it. But it’ll be all too little, too late.
With Spurs youth on our side and Harry Kane as captain, we now have two years to brace ourselves for more England semi-final disappointment at Euro 2020. On the plus side, with them being played at Wembley, at least it’ll be a nice and easy trip home for the players after that inevitable defeat.
We can’t wait…