I understand the negativity to a point, because we failed to beat Slovakia or Russia while only just beating Wales in the last minute, but I disagree with the accusation that England showed less passion than Wales. I’ll give credit to Chris Coleman’s side first and foremost – they deserved to finish top of the group and arguably deserved a result against England.
But to say they showed more passion than England – I don’t buy that for a second. If you don’t believe Roy Hodgson’s side showed passion, go and look at their celebration against Wales. They do care, the only difference is Wales took the Lions share (bad pun alert) of their chances and we didn’t.
Across the three games, England did their best, especially against Russia, to win all three matches. Russia they completed dominated and should’ve been out of sight before Russia scored in stoppage time. Wales, albeit they left it late, they did win and Slovakia put bodies on the line because a draw is a good result for them.
But England looked very good in a general context; we looked good in our play and created some good chances. I’d be more worried if we weren’t creating any. Granted against Slovakia we looked a bit lackluster but when a team puts eleven men behind the ball and sets up purely for a goalless draw, it’s harder than people think to break that down. The last three times Tony Pulis has come to the Stadium of Light in the Premier League is proof of this. Or look at Sunderland’s draw at Arsenal in 2014-15 when we stayed up.
I’m somewhat concerned that we won’t be able to beat better quality teams later in the tournament if we get far. However you could also argue teams like France, Spain or Germany will be more expansive in search of the win and England have pace on the break to score goals. Although I didn’t get excited about it at the time, remember England came back from two-nil down to beat the World Cup 2014 champions in Germany.
So yeah, just incase people forgot, England got through.
Back at Sunderland, we’ve had some rather interesting names linked over the last few days, namely Edin Dzeko.
I would love Dzeko to come to Wearside as this is the calibare of player we should be aiming at for me. He’s proven at the top level of the Premier League and can score goals. When he was at Manchester City, I felt he was quite underrated but he was never going to steal the newspaper headlines over Sergio Aguero, was he?
However, realistically, I don’t see this one happening. I’d love to be proved wrong but there’s two massive stumbling blocks for me even if Roma did accept our reported bid (be careful which publication claims this as not every source is reliable). The first one, is can we afford his wages? He's reportedly on £140k per week and I highly doubt Sunderland would be willing to pay that. The second, is would Dzeko actually want to come. My heart says he would but my head says he wouldn’t.
I still insist Yann M’Vila must be a priority as we saw first-hand last season how influential he can be, especially when we were under-performing before Dick Advocaat’s departure. By all accounts he wants to stay at the Stadium of Light - I’m yet to see a Sunderland supporter who doesn’t want to keep him - and he’s got just six months left on his contract at Ruban Kazan. Logic would suggest that we sign M’Vila on a permanent deal, but football isn’t straight forward or logical at the best of times.
Pre-season looks close to being sorted with games against Hartlepool, Rotherham, Burussia Dortmund and a trip to France in the plans to prepare for the start of the season in August.
It’s good to see we’re heading off closer to home this year, though I still would prefer we stayed in England. That said, the modern game is as much about finance as it is football. France, at least, is a lot closer than America and it gives Sam Allardyce a better chance to get his players fully fit for that trip to Manchester City.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy the football league fixtures being released and seeing Newcastle there. Hopefully next season is the first of many successive years they are in the Championship.