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Gareth’s on for a knighthood

OPINION: England could be on their way to winning the World Cup – and the manager is raising the standards on the touchline

29 June, 2018 — By Richard Osley

England boss Gareth Southgate

THIS team wouldn’t do very well in the non-league, Rio Ferdinand tried to remind us about Panama, as England walked off at half-time five-nil up. We wouldn’t listen. Sod that. Weeee’reee gonnna score FIVE more than you, rang out an updated Vindaloo from the pubs.

England were superb, brilliant, we have willingly convinced ourselves; two penalties and a wild deflection? Save it for another day, pal.

Of course, anybody who asks for a teeny-weeny bit of perspective is considered a national traitor. But by beating Tunisia and Panama, England have apparently emerged as one of the new favourites to, whisper it folks, WIN THE WORLD CUP. VIN-DA-SUPER-LOO!

Maybe it says more about how a lot of the big hitters have started the World Cup. France’s lethargy, Argentina’s frantic escape, Brazil’s stutters and Germany’s shambolic but glorious early exit. It has made us all believe. IT IS COMING HOME.

• Gareth The Waistcoat was asked about how his team would fair in the heat on Sunday as temperatures rose.

I’m more worried about the fact I’ve got a blue shirt on, he said, I won’t be able to hide anything. As you may have gathered, this column is rather obsessed with Mr Southgate’s sartorial efforts, and his attempt at trying to transform himself from the dweeb who we all suspected would miss into one of the game’s great bearded thinkers.

A knighthood awaits if his team wins four more matches, a statue outside of Wembley. The simple thing for a man worried about his perspiring armpits would’ve been to wear a T-shirt.

But I’m backing The Waistcoat here. Managers who dress for a match in kit, as if they wish they were kicking every ball – I’m thinking of you Glenn Hoddle – or those worried about water touching their hair, like Steve McClaren on the touchline with his brolly, are duds.

Southgate’s waistcoated fist pumps are the closest we are going to get to the class of Sir Bobby Robson dancing his dugout bogle (vs Belgium, Italia 90) in a grey suit.

• Back in Italia 90, the best of World Cups, a footballer in tears seemed so unusual that it was front page news.

Paul Gascoigne, Gazza as he is known, started crying (for himself) when he realised a yellow card would mean he was suspended for a final England didn’t even play in.

The reaction was like he was the first man to have cried, ever. Yet at this World Cup, there’s as many tears as VAR decisions. Everybody is at it. Blubbing away. Injured off. Blub. Lose a match. Blub. Eliminated. Blub, blub, blub. Gazza’s famous teary moment wouldn’t even be a side note in today’s money.

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