Dan’s World Cup Diary – Is it acceptable for England to play to lose?

World Cup Diary by Dan Smith

Every 4 years English fans promise ourselves we won’t get carried away and that this time we will have a bit of perspective. However we just love our football so much that we can’t help ourselves. So after a last minute goal against a very poor Tunisia and a great first half against an even poorer Panama, it’s like we have tried to convince ourselves that something’s in the air; Major names not qualifying for Russia, big names yet to get going, favourites out in the group stages.

It’s led many pundits to call this one of the most open World Cups of all time, where we are yet to see an outstanding unit. Of course there are numerous examples of tournaments being won by not always the best team. Luck of the draw can see you reach a final with a generous route. That’s what inspired great debate this week regarding the final fixture of group G.

The majority felt that finishing second would make the semi finals a more realistic target. Despite saying otherwise, clearly both managers agreed, with Harry Kane not coming off the bench even when a goal was needed.

So, Colombia, then Sweden or Switzerland are the only thing that stand in our way from reaching the last 4, on paper never a better chance of matching our best finals since 1990. Then though, you break it down and you realise how crazy it is for England to be worrying about the Quarter-Final and not prioritising the last 16.

Take away the passion for the game in the UK, the facts speak for themselves. We have won 2 knockout games in 28 years (3 if I include the Euros). We mentally fell apart when Iceland put on a bit of pressure.

When you have gone nearly 3 decades having got to one semi final, you can’t keep citing bad luck. You can’t ignore it just because we were the ones who gave the universe this beautiful game. If we heard Sweden or Croatia, etc already talking about ‘easy paths’ we call them arrogant. Yet that’s what our peers think of us. We are not a threat.

We shouldn’t even be thinking about a fifth game. We should be worried about facing Colombia, technically a better team then us who’s recent record is superior to ours. 4 years ago they easily knocked out Uruguay, the side who put us to the sword. While they were knocked out on pens by Brazil we couldn’t get 3 points against the Giants of Costa Rica.

It’s been that tragic for years now and the game knows it. Colombia know it! They know that their opponents on Tuesday will have to show up with the mental strength we havn’t shown since Euro 96/France 98. Yet 2 wins against minnows and we are running before we can walk. It is so long since we were in a major quarter final and we were just a Japan away from doing it. That would have done, pride would have been put back into watching the team, expectation met, something to build on for a couple of years time.

Roberto Martinez showed us his hand. He essentially said ‘play your strongest 11 and only thing that stands in your way from a successful month is Japan.’ Instead we gambled, yet again failing to beat the first decent team we encountered.

If Southgate beats Colombia he’s a genius but what if he doesn’t? You can’t have it both ways.
If he beats Colombia you can’t say he’s manipulated the situation well but let him off if it backfires. It would be different if he finished runner up having tried, but instead he prepared us for a loss due to gaining some tactical advantage. What happens to trying to win every game?

If we lose to the South Americans a day after Belgium have comfortably seen off Japan, then playing for a loss is not morally correct, not what the World Cup was designed for, a waste of an event we wait 4 years for – and would be a sackable offence?

Dan Smith


  1. Nikhilesh says:

    2009-10: Pep Guardiola manager of Spanish club Barcelona
    2010: FIFA WC winners Spain
    2013-14: Pep Guardiola manager of German club Bayern Munich
    2014: FIFA WC winners Germany
    2017-18: Pep Guardiola manager of English club Manchester City

  2. snowden says:

    Who would be a football manager (or a an Arsenal supporter should now say Head Coach)?

    We are where we want to be do we now ease up, give some of the team a rest and may be lose the next game of do we give it our best shot and may be lose a key player through injury?

    There isn’t a one correct answer.
    All we as fans can do is when the manager is proved right or wrong him our full support him, Rather then ‘great manager if he gets it right, throw him out if his decision goes pear shaped.

  3. Chiza says:

    I still have a feeling a monster signing is coming through this summer, arsenal is keeping it for the last, but who could it be??…sokratis, torriera, Leno and Liechtenstein are just low profile signings to steady and improve the team.. But a monster signing is coming through..i feel it deep down my soul…could it be ISCO???… let’s wait and see!!!!

    Reply ↓

    1. gotanidea says:

      I would love Isco too, but he would not leave Real Madrid

      Arsenal would most likely get a free or cheaper winger like Gelson Martins or Adama Traore

      1. Nikhilesh says:

        Dries Mertens anyone? he looks very good and he can play on the wings too

    2. RSH says:

      oh what a dream that would be, lol. Assuming Torreira and Sokratis are done, I’d be happy with just a new winger and a CM (preferably young). No big signings about great squad building.

  4. gotanidea says:

    England showed more dynamic and energetic football under Southgate. England should keep him at least until the next Euro, even if they lose against Colombia

    I think the English players have accepted their strengths and weaknesses, by playing with faster tempo and maximizing their physicalities. They cannot match Colombia technically, but they could win by using set pieces and counter-attacks

  5. Nikhilesh says:

    Hey Kev, is banega coming?

  6. GB says:

    Do you honestly think England played to loose?
    Suggest that to any of the players who played in that game and I think you’d get a slap. Simple fact is that Belgiums 2nd string were better than ours.

  7. RSH says:

    Chambers is going to sign another new contract according to ornstein. Looks like Emery sees big potential in him. He was really good towards end of last season and hopefully continues to improve this season. I’m fine with Chambers staying, which might mean Holding gets a loan. Doubt we are getting Soyuncu if this is true as well. But I think this is good news

  8. jon fox says:

    More world cup BORING topics. YAWN!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHEN can we get back to the reason we are on this site? To talk ARSENAL. In future I , for just one, will totally ignore any world cup topics but post on those threads precisely whatever ARSENAL related comments I wish. Hope other GOONERS will do the same.

  9. JW says:

    No much going on at Arsenal, just speculation and rumors. We ave been there before

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