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Argentina, Colombia, Denmark and Poland have all lost to, or failed to beat, teams ranked lower than Tunisia in their opening games.

Germany have lost to Mexico, Brazil drew with Switzerland; and few teams have played as well as England did for 45 minutes in Volgograd.

The second half against Tunisia wasn't as good. Yet England won, in injury time. Had that been Germany it would have been sagely acknowledged that this is how successful tournament performers operate. They find ways to progress; they score a winner even when they haven't played well.

Yet England did play well, for half the game; but instead of crediting a young group for their character, or resilience, they are castigated for missed chances and not sustaining a high tempo, high energy performance for 90 minutes.

Why is it so hard for the English to enjoy winning?


England have got a young, exciting squad who can win games in the last minute

But the focus after their win over Tunisia was on the chances they failed to take

There are a lot of great footballing nations who would take a scrappy 2-1 victory

England were castigated for not keeping up their early high-intensity approach

This team is going to be much better than we imagined it would be two years ago


By Martin Samuel - Sport for the Daily Mail
23 June 2018

Every schoolchild knows the story of King Cnut. Mad king, thought he had the powers of deity and could command the tide, ended up wet and foolish on the shore. It wasn't quite like that.

Cnut the Great, to give him his proper title, was in fact a supreme commander and diplomat. Through political skill, he united the kingdoms of England and Denmark, creating the North Sea Empire.

Through military might, he added Norway and parts of Sweden to it.


Cnut the Great was a supreme commander but is remembered rather differently in England


The historian Norman F. Cantor, in his unparalleled text, The Civilisation of the Middle Ages, referred to Cnut as 'the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history' despite being neither Anglo, nor Saxon. Even the tide story has been misinterpreted. Cnut did not think he could turn back the sea; quite the opposite.

He dragged his fawning courtiers to the water's edge to show that he did not have God's power and that kings were mortals by comparison.

The story, written by Henry of Huntingdon in the 12th century, has the sodden Cnut telling his court: 'Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings. For there is none worthy of the name, but God, whom heaven, earth and sea obey.'

Cnut is now introduced to the first-year history class as a nutcase with a God complex, and they don't even spell his name right.

The point is this: the English don't know how to win. They don't know when they are well off. Only the English could have rewritten one of history's great leaders, turning him into an end-of-the-pier show.

Take King Alfred who, as we all know, burnt the cakes.


Captain Harry Kane scored an injury time winner against Tunisia in England's opening World Cup match on Monday

Only the English could reduce the man who repelled the Vikings, introduced education in English not Latin, created the Royal Navy, reformed military defences with the creations of burhs we now call them boroughs and codified law, into a bloke who would last two minutes on the pie counter at Greggs.

There is a reason Britain's most famous explorer is Scott, who died in the Antarctic, and not, say, William Dampier, the first to circumnavigate the globe three times, the first natural historian of Australia and the man who gave his name to the Dampier Archipelago, the Dampier Straits and discovered the island of New Britain. Heard of him?

Not many have but we all know Scott, who reached the South Pole behind Roald Amundsen, failed to make it home and got everybody killed. Maybe that explains it, the national disposition towards negativity.

England won a World Cup game this week; there is every chance they will win another on Sunday. If they do, it is very likely a young, exciting team will qualify for the Last 16 of this tournament in the same number of matches it took the previous group to get knocked out in 2014. Yet you wouldn't know it, judging by much of the reaction.

Last-minute goal, only Tunisia, wait until they play a real team. But plenty of real teams are struggling to make headway in Russia.

There are plenty of World Cup contenders who in these initial skirmishes are looking anything but.


This Germany fan would have been delighted with a late goal against Mexico



Some England fans would kill to have Lionel Messi in the team, but he's not helping Argentina

Argentina, Colombia, Denmark and Poland have all lost to, or failed to beat, teams ranked lower than Tunisia in their opening games.

Germany have lost to Mexico, Brazil drew with Switzerland; and few teams have played as well as England did for 45 minutes in Volgograd.

The second half against Tunisia wasn't as good. Yet England won, in injury time. Had that been Germany it would have been sagely acknowledged that this is how successful tournament performers operate. They find ways to progress; they score a winner even when they haven't played well.

Yet England did play well, for half the game; but instead of crediting a young group for their character, or resilience, they are castigated for missed chances and not sustaining a high tempo, high energy performance for 90 minutes.

We say we would like to be Germany, but we couldn't handle being Germany.

We couldn't handle the tension of finding a way through a rotten display. We want it all gilt-edged and guaranteed. Win, play well, balance the ball on our noses like seals.

Do you think the Germans would be beating themselves up over a 2-1 win against Tunisia? Do you think a nation goes from the semi-final with Italy on June 17, 1970 to the World Cup final against Brazil on June 30, 2002, without losing a last-four game in any major tournament, by agonising over good fortune in the group stage?


Jesse Lingard's good display somehow morphed into a bad one because of missed chances


Germany get through and put it all behind them.

England beat them 5-1 in a qualifier in 2001 do you think that was on their minds arriving in Yokohama for the World Cup final less than a year later?

Did they care that their second match of that group stage was a 1-1 draw with Republic of Ireland?

Portugal won the European Championships in 2016 having trailed behind Hungary and Iceland in Group F on the back of three draws.

They won two of their seven matches in that campaign, and only one in normal time.

Not including penalty shootouts, Portugal's record in France was five draws in seven games. Do you think they cared about that as the trophy was paraded around Lisbon?

We've been here before. At the Rugby World Cup in 2003, England were "not playing well." South Africa said so, having lost to them by 19 points.


Portugal did not play well at Euro 2016, but they didn't care when they took the trophy home


Wales insisted on it, having won 22 points unopposed in the second-half in Brisbane. And being English, this was lapped up.

For King Cnut, read Sir Clive Woodward, berated for appearing tetchy with French journalists before a semi-final on the day his equivalent, Bernard Laporte, was saying he hated the arrogant English.

'They are world No 1, we will make them world No 2,' Laporte said, not at all arrogantly, of a team France had lost to by 31 points two months earlier. After England defeated France 24-7 in Sydney, Laporte modestly blamed the rain.

England won that World Cup, of course, and nobody is saying they are going to win this one. It would be lunatic, on the back of a 2-1 win over Tunisia, to suggest Gareth Southgate and his players are on course for greatness.

It was a decent start, though, and we should be able to admit that much. It's going better than we imagined a year ago, even if we're still some way from turning back the tide.


England won the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia after being sneered at during the tournament


Why is it so hard for the English to enjoy winning? | Daily Mail Online
Last edited by Blackleaf; Jun 23rd, 2018 at 05:41 AM..