Well that was absolutely gutting and a typical English heartbreaking way to lose. It just had to be penalties didn't it? Why, just why? Our penalty history is just bizarre. 2 wins from 9. Why do we struggle so much?
Does feel like an opportunity lost last night. Everything was aligned for us. At Wembley, took the lead less than two minutes in, general play was good for the first 20 minutes, we looked a threat when we attacked, always had a player or two in space in midfield or out wide and then we just...stopped playing. Dropped deeper and deeper and invited pressure from minute 20 til the end. **** sake. So frustrating. We didn't need to do that. We have a better squad than they do. I can understand if we dropped off with 20 minutes to go but not with 70 left on the clock. I remember thinking about 35 minutes in that we're going to lose this because we can't get on the ball, they are bound to get a chance and if they score we've got to switch on and come out and that's a very hard thing to do in football when you've powered down like we had.
Southgate has done some amazing work in his time as England manager, really he has but he's got to take a lot of the blame for last night. Way too negative and cautious, even before a ball was kicked by going with the 343 formation when there was no need. Then by allowing us to defend so deep that Kane was 25 yards off the half way line and we had no outball when we did get it in our defensive third, he did nothing to encourage our players to be braver and play 15 yards higher up. Leaving the subs as long as he did is a Southgate trademark. So utterly afraid of trying to win the game and taking off any of his three favourites until the last second. Bringing on Rashford and Sancho at the end of ET for the spot kicks was poor. They should've been on at HT in ET at the latest. Leaving Sterling on when he wasn't taking one of the first five pens was poor too.
It was always going to be a tough ask to win it on penalties. I was struggling to name 5 takers, only certainties were Kane and Rashford. I assumed Sancho was going to take one as he came on so late. Thought Shaw and Grealish would've been two of the five but Saka just did not register when it came to picking five takers.
Poor again from Southgate here. Putting Saka as 5th pen taker was an incredibly risky and bold call and it backfired in the absolute worst way possible. Southgate should've known better. That was really poor and given his own history on penalties I'd have expected better from the manager here. If these were what Southgate deemed his five best takers I'd have certainly had them in a different order. Something like Kane-Saka-Maguire-Sancho-Rashford.
We'll likely not get a better chance of winning something for a long time now. I know we said that after the WC in 2018 but to get two back to back runs like we've had is rare and we've genuinely shot ourselves in the foot both times. Took the lead in both games within the opening five minutes, went into ultra defensive mode, conceded and lost. Should've gone two up against Croatia and shouldn't have gone as defensive as we did as early as we did last night. We had the early goal, the momentum and the home crowd right behind us last night and they couldn't cope with us the first 20 minutes and we just let them off the hook and let them play their game.
Fair play to any of you that still have much belief after that going forward. Lesson wasn't learnt from three years ago with Southgate. We'll continue to have the most/one of the most stacked squads around for the next 10 years but it's England. Say no more.