F365 turning into the Sun? And more World Cup mails…

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Why are Football365 supporting England?
Why have F365 embraced full-on Ingerland mode? I thought F365 was a left-leaning, anti-xenophobic, anti-sexist, love the world, mainstream media-alternative for enlightened individuals who preferred superior football coverage. The language and rhetoric used in F365 World cup articles seems to be a significant shift from previous world cups. Multiple articles have normalised the idea of people struggling to sleep before England matches, being ‘immensely proud’ of footballers we’ve never met, crying over victories, etc. It’s like reading the Sun on here half the time.

Fervent nationalism is ridiculous and seeing yourself as different from everyone else due to some arbitrary lines drawn on a globe directly fuels the kind of xenophobia/racism that F365 is so right to bang on about. Can’t we just enjoy the World Cup without all the patriotic nonsense. Do you think it will be nice having an eastern European accent on Wednesday night if England lose?

Domestic violence increases by 30% when England play major tournament games. This is fuelled by the hyped up, end of the world, hysterical media coverage. Can’t F365 stop engaging in the ‘this means everything’ rhetoric. It amps people up, gives them a distorted view of the importance of a child’s game played by strangers, and directly leads to misery for silent (although not normally on F365) subpopulations.

Of course I’m not going to go full on ridiculous and threaten to boycott, F365 is still far better than any other football site I’ve managed to find, but can we please reverse a bit to the happier, more relaxed, questioning the mainstream message, teach the world to sing version?

The big fatigue lie
The three countries with the most Premier League players in their World Cup squads are through to the semi-finals. What was that we were being told how a winter break is necessary for a player to remain sharp during an international tournament?
Glenn, SWFC

Sterling is being set up as scapegoat
I think I can answer the question about when Sterling’s finishing becomes a problem: it’s when we next lose an important game – be it at this tournament or otherwise. The media have been lining him up as scapegoat in chief for months now, and they’re just waiting for the dominoes to start falling. If he misses a big chance in said loss then all the better for them, but they’ll find a way to make it his fault even if someone else was actually to blame.

For what it’s worth, the only thing that frustrates me about Sterling is that his finishing for England isn’t as good as his finishing for City. His contribution this tournament has still been valuable and I don’t really think that there’s much of a case to be made for him to be dropped at this point; if we were going to drop him then it would have happened already, so I feel we would be best served by continuity. We are winning games and he is contributing in quality, if not statistically measurable ways. Vardy and Rashford weren’t exactly brilliant in their limited outings so far, and Loftus-Cheek starting would probably require a change of formation or tactics, so leave it as it is.

Still can’t quite believe we are in a World Cup semi-final.
Ted, Manchester

Please let him score…
I’m just curious as to whether the people slating Sterling for his performance, would be doing so if he had scored? If the answer is no, then surely they need to realise, Sterling isn’t playing as badly as they are making out.

He has pretty much done everything right apart from putting the ball in the net, and what he is currently bringing this team is worth just as much.

Henderson and Walker are yet to score. We aren’t bothered by that because what they are doing is still being valued (as it should). Same should be for Sterling.

On a side note, nothing would bring me more pleasure now, than seeing Sterling scoring a World Cup winning goal. As a Man Utd fan, you would think I’d rathef a Lingard or Rashford but the media and now some sections of ‘fans’ treatment of Sterling has been both disgusting and bonkers.
Dale Lamb (Please let football come home)

Isn’t it wonderful to think in ‘maybes’ again?
Part of me has always envied those once every-two-years football fans.

The ones that support England in a major tournament and no more.

The ones who ask you how you think England will do at the start of every tournament and are shocked when you tell them exactly why one of the other teams have way more chance.

The ones who buy the brand new England shirt and look at you like you’re a weirdo for wearing a 1986 England shirt because it reminds you of a time when you were like them and didn’t know anything.

The ones who tell you we’ll win because it’s our turn – like the World Cup can be compared to that Gameboy you brought on family holidays but had to periodically let your brother play even though you had no spare batteries and you were on the verge of clocking Batman because you’d finally worked out that that advice to pick up the T gun was utter crap and you should have stuck with the batarang.

The ones who think we’ll win just because we’re England and we invented the damn sport.

Yeah those people and now I’m one of them because it occurred to me that now when people ask me how they think we’ll do in the semi or whether we can win the whole thing – I now say that in this World Cup, where the hosts, the holders, the European champions, and champions of all the other continents and the countries boasting the two best players are all out – I can honestly say I haven’t a clue and I’m loving it.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

Why all the negativity?
Flipping heck, to Macca Herts and the seemingly endless stream of football bores I encounter nowadays – what on earth will it take for you people to be happy? Do you even like football??

Unfancied hosts going deep in the tournament knocking out ex-champions en route? Tick.

Reigning champions crashing out in calamitous fashion to an already ‘relegated’ side? Tick.

Nearly 60 games played and only a handful that can be honestly described as anyhting ‘drab’? Tick.

Screamers. Curlers. VAR. Clangers. Towering headers. Deflections. Smash n Grabs. Pens. Scrambles. Dummies. Whatever you call that thing Quaresma and Cheryshev do – basically every kind of goal scored bar bicycle kick (there’s still time)? Tick.

England in a flaming World Cup semi final. Wait what.. Tick?!

Every single one of Belgium, France, Croatia and England (and their respective managers) have banashed a demon, defied the critics at home and weathered a storm or two to come out on top – if that doesn’t make your monkey dance I really don’t understand what you’re here for.

It’s tournament football people.
Simon CFC

…Mecca Herts must be fun at weddings. It can’t be the happiest day of your life as you are not marrying a supermodel.

Leicester Premier League is still worth celebrating despite everyone else being a bit rubbish that year and Celtic should still celebrate despite probably being able to play their reserve team every week and still win the league.

As a person old enough to remember the last time England got to a World Cup semi final in 1990, I’m slightly shock by the thought that this is closer in time to 1966 than the present day.

History is full of clubs doing well despite not playing anyone deemed good. Germany in 2002 springs to mind.

It generally exciting going into an important match with a chance of winning and not just facing Germany knowing the England players are almost defeated before kick off. So for as long as this crazy journey goes on I’m going to enjoy and celebrate it and that even if we lose to Croatia.

A correction
Thank you for publishing my letter regarding the poorness of the World Cup. Unfortunately, you have given it an entirely wrong headline “Support from Scotland” as I am nothing to do with Scotland. I am a Londoner and feel your incorrect headline will have lessened the impact of what I was trying to say.
Macca Herts

World Cup stats with Peter G
As we approach the semi-finals, here are two stats worth knowing. They’re my all-time favorite World Cup stats.

The first involves semi-finals between a team that have made the Final before and a team that haven’t. We’re going to have two of those matches in a couple of days, France-Belgium and England-Croatia. Looking at the record, that kind of match-up has occurred 17 times, assuming we include West Germany-Poland 1974 and Netherlands-Brazil 1978, technically second group stage but in effect semi-finals. How many of those 17 matches have been won by the team that had made the Final before?

The answer is 14. The three exceptions: Sweden over West Germany in 1958 (and the Swedes were at home), Netherlands over Brazil in 1978, and Spain over Germany in 2010. If you toss out the Sweden result because of home advantage, you’re left with only two of 16 wins for the team without previous Final experience.

The second, related stat involves participants in the Final. Counting Brazil-Uruguay 1950 as a Final, as is customary, when was the last time the Final contained two teams that had never played in a Final before? Take your time on this one…

Well, obviously 1930, and 1934 too, and then…no, or maybe…or…or…And that’s it. The answer is 1934.

Why? Who knows? Maybe there’s something in the DNA, as we like to say, or maybe we can call it pedigree. Maybe knowing your team has made the final before makes you more confident. But France and England should be big favorites this week.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA

World Cup or pre-season friendly?
This morning I was at the supermarket and had a chat with the lady at the fish counter. Her opening line was that it was a great result at the weekend. I replied that it was and that I was already nervous about Wednesday. She looked at me with confusion and said surely, I meant Tuesday when ‘we play Tranmere’. On further questioning it turns out that ‘the great result’ was Liverpool beating lowly Chester 0-7 in a preseason friendly.

I asked her about the England game but her view was that supporting England was for Southerners (her choice of words). This wasn’t the first time that I had heard this sentiment. The landlady at the pub that I drink at was telling me that she doesn’t have to get extra staff in for England games unlike Liverpool or Everton games (not to mention the derby).

The question therefore is this: is this individualism (or if I’m being less generous; provincialism) typical to Liverpool or do other ‘northern’ cities experience the fact that the World Cup is just a way of killing time between Premiership seasons?
Gwarrior (LCFC)

We need to talk about Marouane…
At the risk of sounding like the kid at school who claimed to have heard Oasis/Blink 182/50 cent (delete as appropriate to how cool your school was) before they were mainstream, I’ve been banging the Marouane drum for some time now. And on Friday night I felt Felé paid me back for constant support through the elbows, conceded penalties and other lows over the years he’s been at United.

Picked over Dembélé, that’s the same Dembélé everyone has raved about for the last couple of years as “the engine that keeps spurs purring”, “strong in the tackle”, “calm on the ball”, “most underrated player in the prem/world/GALAXY”, even my eyebrows were raised as I wondered if Martinez’s luck was about to run out.

But Fellaini bossed it, he was superb (Matt Stead said so too). Breaking up play, covering ground and keeping tabs on Neymar, the guy so many of us tipped to rule this tournament.

During a conversation with several fellow United fans who were pretty unanimously against Fellaini, I summed it up by painting the following picture; let’s fast forward a few months to December 4th. Arsenal, slightly revitalised by Unai Emery and a raft of unpronounceable signings visit old Trafford. They’ve kept the pace and there’s, let’s say, half a dozen points between the teams at this stage. It’s 1-1 with 80 mins on the clock and Fellaini is getting ready to come on; would you rather he comes on for you, or against you?

The fact of the matter is that Fellaini is one of the best plan B’s in world football at the minute. The man is fantastic in both boxes. Yes, his tackles are clumsy. No, his touch isn’t Modric-esque. No, I don’t know how he gets such volume in that hair, maybe some kind of coconut-based conditioner at a guess. But yes, if we’re having to lump it long, as most have to at some point, I want him on the end of it.

You have to appreciate the qualities he has, and use those strengths. There’s a reason Jose wants to retain the man. Along with Lukaku, Hazard, De Bruyne and a few other Belgians, Fellaini has been efficient and effective during this World Cup and I hope United fans, and football fans in general will start to give him the respect he deserves. I hope they get through to the final, if nothing else, I just want to see what happens when the ball’s in the air and it’s Fellaini vs Maguire. Is this how the world ends?! Ah well, it’s been lovely.
Craig (Boston)

Team of the tournament?
No football today or tomorrow so withdrawal symptoms are kicking in! In fairness, we’ve been truly spoilt so I won’t complain! Below is my team of the tournament so far, lining up in a, somewhat, 3-5-2.

GK: J. Pickford (Eng)
CB: D. Rose (Eng)
CB: S. Coates (Uru)
CB: A. El Mohammady (Egy)
CM: Ki (Kor)
CM: J. Henderson (Eng)
CM: A. N’Diaye
LM: B. Oviedo (Cos)
RM: S. Larsson (Swe)
AMC: A. Januzaj (Bel)
ST: D. Welbeck (Eng)
ST: W. Khazri (Tun)

So before you knowledgeable and erudite F365 readers cry laughing at my stupidity, it’s not my team of the tournament, it’s actually a team of current or former Sunderland players (now preparing for life in League 1) representing their countries at the World Cup.

The shocking fact that Sunderland had more, current or former representatives, in the World Cup quarter finals than most of Europe’s elite teams really does shine a light on how badly the club has been run in recent years.

Little bit light up front but Gyan, Bent, and Defoe are absent from WC 2018 and add a little firepower!
Edward Canhands (If only Big Sam hadn’t succumbed to his pint of wine we’d even have a manager, although England would most like be out and waistcoat sales would be way down)

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