Well we had a blast.

England achieved a lot in these past four weeks but ultimately came up just short.

However, the first semi-final since Euro 96 is some achievement.

I have never been convinced that this is a great manager or team but they have come together in this tournament and done their very best, the players certainly giving 100% for Gareth Southgate and the fans.

England did get a big helping hand with how the knockout stages panned out, a route of Colombia, Sweden and Croatia to get to the final was the stuff of dreams., especially with only having needed to beat Tunisia and Panama to get out of the group stage.

However, you only need to look back two years ago and the dismal failure against Iceland, to be reminded of how often England haven’t taken advantage of favourable situations.

Southgate didn’t turn this good to average team (Kane apart) into superstars but he definitely got his tactics right in getting them on the front foot from the first whistle.

They dominated Tunisia early on and should have easily won, they blew away Panama, Belgium was a dead rubber, then Colombia they could have had the game won by half-time, whilst Sweden they looked so comfortable from start to finish.

I thought Colombia was very similar to last night, once again England were on top from the start and could and should have been three up by half-time, but failed to take chances after Trippier’s class opener in the fifth minute.

When talisman Harry Kane hit the post rather than the gaping net from a few yards, that was the moment it slipped away.

Just like against Colombia, once Croatia got on top in the second-half, Gareth Southgate and his players didn’t have any answers and massively lacked ideas/creativity.

Having conceded in every game apart from Sweden, it was no surprise when Croatia punished England for their missed chances, Perisic on 68 minutes.

From some way out it then became clear that penalties was probably England’s best chance, only for Mandzukic to kill those hopes off with 11 minutes to go.

We had carried the luck and the bottle against Colombia to get through extra time and penalties but that luck ran out last night.

It was a vivid reminder that this is a cup competition, England failed to take their chances when on top, going two up would have killed it and we’d now be planning what time to go to the pub on Sunday.

This World Cup has been brilliant and England have played a large part in that for those of us who were rooting for them. A great summer of beer and football is now coming to an end in three days time and the spell will be broken.

Back to normal life, work and worrying about Newcastle United.

Gareth Southgate:

“At the moment we all feel the pain of defeat.

“I don’t think realistically we expected to be here, but once you’re here and played as well as we did, you want to take those opportunities in life. The dressing room is a difficult place at the moment.

“I’m remarkably proud of the group of players, the reaction of the supporters compared to two years ago shows the country are proud of the way we played.

“There will in time be lots of positives to take but it’s too hard and too soon to put that in context.

“You have to suffer the result first sometimes.

“I’m hugely proud of what we’ve done,  I couldn’t have asked for any more.

“They’ve broken through a number of barriers in the past weeks.”

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  • Lostprofit DBC

    The 1st half decent team they played and they failed. Sorry but there will never be a better opportunity. Things needed changing and the manager failed to respond. Overall ok but a tournament I will remember for fan zone selfies and plastic fans.

  • Leazes.

    Just at the point where people like Carol Malia at the BBC Look North were starting to get into the whole flag waving thing along with those ‘partying England fans’ too…. yes we all know Carol loves her football.

    You know something, all of these Soccer fans actually look different from your usual football crowd….. they look like cricket fans and college students to me…. have a look at that picture above…. 90% of them…..they are your middle classes!….

    ….. and quite clearly the one in the middle is a manure soccer fan, and there are women there who look as if they don’t know what its all about but wear a shirt and have a face stamp because this is sort of like a Royal wedding or Wimbledon only with menfolk getting excited.

    We’ll undoubtedly see this bunch again frequenting their local clubs in the new season and if the selection of flags is anything to go by then the financial beneficiaries will be every non league and ‘who’ club in the land.

    A nation in ‘mourning’?…..well until the cricket season get underway or a Royal christening occurs or madame la guillotine is brought out of retirement and they have a new focus for their attachment! :)

    • X,WHY,Y MAN.

      Or the next anniversary of yet another pointless war where millions lost their lives needlessly and The Royals dress up to the nines to lay flowers to thank them for their sacrifice !

      • Leazes.

        That’s the usual outcome.

      • Jezza

        Excellent comment.

    • Rich Lawson

      Same in my local last night,easy to get a seat thru the group up to the quarter final.Then mobbed off for the semi with loads of folk I have never seen in there before and I’ll guess none of them will be back on Saturday for the 3rd place game.

  • robbersdog

    We lacked creativity in midfield; Jonjo Shelvey would’ve made a big difference to Harry Kane’s performances in open play.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      i honestly don`t know where Kane was playing last night, it wasn`t as a centre forward that`s for sure

      • Wor Lass

        Very strange – my daughter asked that exact question and I couldn`t really answer it. Does he do his own thing or is he playing to plan? I remember at the Euros he was taking corners and free kicks into the box. Maybe he thinks he`s the complete player?

        • TheNutJob

          Bonjour, wor lass, harry was all over the shop, he should stick to what he`s best at and that`s playing through the middle up front

          • Wor Lass

            Agreed.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Southgate played the media and they fell for it.
    when it came to the crunch & Croatia upped the pace & changed tactics in the second half he had no answers, will he learn, only time will tell but he has not shown the ability to adapt

    • HarryHype59

      This match was similar to the Nigeria friendly pre tournament. England were great first half but were second best once the opposition coach changed tactics. Southgate has no plan B.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    Yes, England got to the semi-final and exceeded expectations so there is that way of looking at it.
    As alluded to in the article above England were knocked out of their last tournament by a country who’s population is about a third of the size of Tyneside in Iceland.

    So this time around we were knocked out of a tournament by a country with a population of around 4 Million people, So is this seen as progress ?
    Lots of soundbites as usual in the media about “Heroes Welcomes”, “Brave England” etc, But is that the truth ?

    The England I watched in that tournament is no different to the one that has taken to the field in the 30 odd years that have gone past.
    Nowhere nearer to winning a tournament with a team that does very little to attack teams and constantly passes the ball backwards.

    There will be those that see this as some kind of success and I suppose you cannot argue in the scheme of things in terms of where they may finish.
    Fundamentally though, The same glaring inefficiencies still exist within English International Football still exist without anyone in authority with the stomach to sort it out !

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    First of all they did not take the most creative midfielder the country has in Shelvey
    and last night we were forced to continually pass pack to Pickford sometimes twice in a row so much so that he was forced into mistakes. England only came up against two average to good teams in Belgium and Croatia and were second best in mid field both times. It has actually been a poor World Cup with no strong teams emerging with perhaps Belgium being the most talented team. Croatia are poor at the back and there final ball in the box last night was appalling. France have not played well except against Argentina so the winners will not be like the great Brazilian team of 1970 nowhere near. Most of England’s goals came from dead ball situations free kicks and penalties and they rarely looked like scoring from open play. There have been far better England teams and taking Shelvey would have made a big difference. However he plays for Newcastle so that is a no.

    • Wor Lass

      I agree with some of what you say but against both Belgium and especially Croatia we were the better team in the first half. What scuppered our chances both times was lack of finishing power up front and lack of depth on the bench. France played well against Belgium as well as Argentina but were very iffy elsewhere. I agree about Shelvey – he would have at least given Southgate a real option to change our play.

    • nevfur

      Tbh it’s a bit tenuous to reference the Belgium game played between two reserve sides neither of which was really sure if they wanted to even win it anyway. I agree the tournament hasn’t really had an outstanding side but there have been a lot of good ones and I have enjoyed it. As you say England payed for an inability to score enough. One more first half v Croatia and the game was won regardless of Modric comments who was poor first half. We have good players but lack that one or two outstanding ones that can turn things on their own. Ali has been very average for the last year and did nothing of note so surprised he was on so long. Would have liked to see what Shelvey could have done but not sure he would have been put on the pitch even if in the squad. A lot of good young players who hopefully will learn from it and improve although whether enough to win anything or not who knows. Need to produce another Gazza

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        We needed someone to spray sixty yard passes to Kane or Sterling and what we ended up with was a midfield who could only pass the ball back to Pickford. For me England got lucky in the teams they played and had they been on the other side of the draw would have been home long before now as they cannot score from open play as do not get the ball up quick enough. Keegan made the same mistake replacing Lee Clark with that snail David Batty. We were never the same team again.

  • John D Williams

    England had an easy group to get out of. The only two football teams they played against they lost. It would be like us playing Mk Dons, Doncaster and then coming up against Arsenal, and wondering why we have been beaten.

  • Last night was hard to take – now let’s end this amazing FIFA World Cup campaign with another incredible experience.

    • TheNutJob

      and what would that be ?

  • TheNutJob

    can Croatia beat France, i don`t think so but with Modric & Rakitc in midfield they`ll give them a game

  • Toon 83

    They got further than most people would have imagined, but the quality of the opposition for the majority of the run was average. Soon as they played against world class players the writing was on the wall and they fell short. They played well in the first half against Belgium and Croatia but ultimately they didn’t have the experience or quality to see it out. They definitely look better than they have for years though. Be interesting to see what they can do at the next euros

  • HarryHype59

    Supporting England is like supporting Newcastle. It always ends in frustration and disappointment.

    Southgate ‘s limitation as a coach were shown last night. There was no plan B in the second half once Croatia pressed our back three and took control in the second half. The team resorted to classic England hoof and hope long ball football.

    He needed to sub Kane, Alli and Sterling as all three were poor.

    Once again the myth that England have “world class” players is exposed.

    • TheNutJob

      fell apart in the second half and that`s where a good manager changes the tactics & players, Southgate i`m afraid failed on both counts

      • HarryHype59

        Agreed, as Roy Keane said after the match, we will never have a better chance of getting to a WC final. Southgate needed to make changes but stood like a rabbit in the headlights.

        In fairness to him, last night proved beyond doubt England don’t have a single world class player. Alli, Kane and Sterling are average at International level.

        • Wor Lass

          I thought Sterling had a decent enough game last night but, as usual for England, there was no end product. Ali looked good in flashes during the first half. Kane just didn`t really feature – what position was he playing and who`s decision was it?

          • Soldier

            Rashford should have been on earlier & not to use Loftus Cheek when Henderson went off was a major mistake

          • HarryHype59

            Southgate should have used Sterling as an impact substitute when game was stretched in the second half. Kane did a passable impression of the Hoss last night.

          • Jezza

            Would probably have been a different outcome if Kane hadn’t missed that sitter in the first half.

  • Fisherking

    England only played two good teams and got beat of both of them sums it up really

    • Jezza

      The draw was very kind to England it has to be said.

  • Billmag

    Personally I think Southgate was inept last night Rose should have been selected before Young, Ali was persisted with far too long, and controversially I would have taken Kane off because he looked shot to me. And looking at the headlines in the press this morning classing them as heroes is way over the top they are millionaire’s for god’s sake, the Armed forces, the police, ambulance service, firemen, the people that got them children out of them caves they are heroes not over paid footballer’s.

    • Wor Lass

      Young was awful in the first half and we got away with it thanks to Stones covering him. I reckon that`ll be the end of him. I wonder if Rose has been nursing a bit of an injury and couldn`t do a full game? I agree with you about the “heroes” bit.

      • Soldier

        I don`t rate Young, but there`s another 3 or 4 players that shouldn`t be in that team

    • HarryHype59

      The divers that risked their lives rescuing those Thai kids stuck in the underground caves are real heroes. The term “hero” has become misused

    • 1957

      I’d agree totally with that. Interestingly the British and Thai divers have said they aren’t heroes and tried to play down what they have done, but for me a hero is prepared to lay down their lives for others and they fit that perfectly.

      I gather there are discussions going on for an open top bus parade in London so we can ‘honour’ the achievements of our returning football team next week… politicians/bandwagon?

  • Tony English

    Southgate deserves a great deal of credit for how he set the team up to play, but his lack of experience showed in the end when the team needed another dimension. He couldn’t reposition the players during a match to counter or surprise the opposition and his substitutions made little or no impact.

    Croatia knew EXACTLY how we were going to line up and build from the back, risky interchanges between keeper and centrebacks that were susceptible to nippy forward play (Mbeppe would have a field day) and error in a dangerous part of the pitch.

    Top effort though and there is a bright side….

    Spurs have a lot of talented players in the English, French and Belgian sides. That bodes well for the future…specifically the 11th of August, the opening game of the season, hopefully they’ll all still be knackered.

    • Dillon Tovak

      Was mbeppe in easterners?

      • Tony English

        Haha…I meant Mbetty out of “Some Mothers Do ‘ave em”

        • Dillon Tovak

          😂😂😂

  • Dillon Tovak

    Well we weren’t going to win 2 trophies in a year were we and obviously Newcastle are nailed on to do a Leicester this year 🤪 woohoooooo

    • Soldier

      League cup will do

  • Soldier

    To many errors were made & the lack of leadership on the field and in the dugout lead to defeat, i hope Southgate learns some lessons from last night, when the team needed to hold the line they couldn`t and that`s the difference at international level.

  • Paul Patterson

    It’s great how the country came together but let’s not dress it up, we were bang average from open play. What was it – 12 goals scored, 10 were set pieces? You win nowt playing like that..

    • Jezza

      Shelvey might have given them a bit more creativity when they needed it. Pity he plays for the wrong club otherwise he would have probably been in the England squad out there.

      • Phil Yare

        i say the same thing over and over jezza, andy cole 41 goals in one season in black and white – no caps. if some sprog from chelsea reserves or man u plays 15 mins they get called up

        • Jezza

          Nothing ever changes, Phil. Back in the 80’s Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne, two of the very best and most gifted English players of their generation, both knew they had to leave Newcastle if they wanted to play for England.

          • Mark Potter

            So it had nothing to do with Newcastle spending most of the 80s in the second division, that they and the club were offered lots of money to leave, and they got the chance to play week in week out at the highest level. Something Newcastle couldn’t offer until 1994.

    • Billmag

      And that’s why Young was in team Paul just for his dead ball kicks.

    • NUFCDan

      We didn’t create a single decent chance from open play last night, and once we started just hoofing long balls in the second half the Croatian centre backs dealt with it without breaking sweat.

      • Desree

        As South African spurs fan thought England were spurs

  • 1957

    When Southgate’s favoured tactic/system of play was found wanting and we came under pressure plan B in the second half became ‘parking the bus’, that isn’t good enough for any manager especially at international level.

    • Lostprofit DBC

      Yeah I remember Sir Bobby being sacked shortly after the Italia 90 semi. Now Southgate is seen as a hero.

      • Desree

        He was told before that his contract would not be renewed and he agreed a deal with PSV before the world cup. The players knew he was going hence we got a great performance from them.

        Then the Turnip happened.

  • Lostprofit DBC

    At least the national team has added 500k wine drinking females who constantly tweet and send selfies, to their ranks. Prediction, in 4 years time they will start sitting on their boyfriends shoulders at fan zones, just like Glastonbury.

    • Phil Yare

      most of them probably hate football as well

  • NUFCDan

    Croatia won because they were better than us on the night. England have struggled to create anything from open play all tournament.

  • Jonas

    England haven’t beaten a good side in a tournament since 2002 and lost to the two good teams they plays here.
    beat nobody and the ease of their run is tricking people.
    its like brave England lost to the mighty Croatia, a country 20-30 times smaller, albeit they good, but better Croatia teams have done nothing.

    i cant imagine a country with the average international record England have, having fans and media anywhere near as arrogant. Denmark, Sweden, Uruguay for eg.

    • Phil Yare

      only 4 million population in croatia and zee englanders totally disrespected them afterwards. No wonder most of europe hates this country

  • Phil Yare

    I think its important to remember that the london based media absolutely hate us….that’s why I find it odd that toon fans follow cockney united.
    I can’t believe that some of our fans cheer on the mackem goalkeeper, the ex mackem midfielder, the cheating sterling and dele alli, but then boo them at st james’ park when they come to play us – absolutely fickle. I don’t like any of them, I don’t like them in england shirts and I don’t like them in their club shirts either.

    Staying on the subject of biased media lets look at ITV’s coverage……
    mark pougatch (arsenal fan)
    lee dixon (ex arsenal)
    ian wright (ex arsenal)

    then the rest made up of the london media’s other favourite team Man u (not united as they like to call them) with giggs, neville and keane.

    its totally different from 1990 when there were gentlemen and real hero’s like beardsley, butcher, lineker, waddle, gazza etc, now its just made up of millionaire cheats that have no class or honour.
    This team aren’t even that good, they’ve played 2 good teams and got beat in both games after a qualification group made up of pub teams (check out englands qualification group for 1994 its a jaw dropper in comparison!) and then a world cup group with at least 1 pub team and a very very poor team.

    ‘WE’ should always apply to the toon, afterall they think the border for the north is drawn at manchester (which is the midlands really)

    think i’ve made my point

    • Jezza

      Agree entirely. As a working class kid in the North East in the 70’s I always felt detached and alienated from the England team. They always seemed to represent London and the South and players from our region never got picked for England. I have also never liked the fact that England have always played every single home game in London while all the other national sides spread their home games all round their respective countries. I have also always resented the fact that NUFC lost some of our best players such as Waddle and Gazza far too soon because in part they knew they had to leave if they wanted to get picked for England. For those reasons and many others, I have never supported the England team.