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England v IR Iran: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

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Alright, they’ve got me...

Prior to kick off yesterday I was refusing to admit that I was bothered about England’s World Cup journey, but a thumping win has grabbed my attention... argh!

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

I’ve always been club before country.

So when the World Cup break I’d been dreading eventually came, right after a much-needed Sunderland win away at Birmingham, I was pissed off.

I didn’t want this break, even despite acknowledging the positives for our injury-stricken squad. I wanted to keep watching my team play three games a week, playing lush footy, and scoring nice goals. I resented the fact that I’d have to divert my attention elsewhere for three weeks.

And who could blame me?

Aside from the obvious stuff with Sunderland, England have been crap for ages. Prior to the opening game against Iran we hadn’t won a single competitive match for just over a year, and the apathy that had evaded us in the previous two tournaments was back again - you’d have struggled to find an England fan who was feeling optimistic about the prospect of the Three Lions going to Qatar and being anything other than completely miserable.

I’m not getting too far ahead of myself here, but the win yesterday changed everything for me.

Fans watch England v Iran - FIFA World Cup 2022 Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

I told everyone I wasn’t bothered, but as soon as they started scoring goals and playing some of the best football I’ve seen from an England side in some time, they reeled me back in.

It’s not quite the same as watching England play tournament football in the summer, but it has got me wondering “what if?” - could it actually be coming home?

I mean... who knows. The fact this is happening mid-season completely blows the competition open. Everyone should have a squad full of fresh, in form players - certainly with the top sides anyway - and that was what stood out to me most watching England against Iran. They didn’t look like a team being held together with sticky tape at the end of a gruelling club season, but a side that was fit and raring to go.

I’m not going to take my eye off Sunderland though, because... well, we can’t. We play Millwall next week. Our season hasn’t been curtailed for as long as some of the other sides in our division, so I’m grateful for that.

But despite trying to convince myself that I couldn’t be arsed with the World Cup, I’ve already caved in. It’s wall-to-wall football for a month or so and if you’re a football fan, it’s completely unavoidable.

Oh, the shame. And I bet I’m not alone!


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