Monday 20 June
England 0:0 Slovakia
Gormless Roy Hodgson made six changes to his starting line up and bungled the job.
Leaving out Rooney, Kane and Walker he ended up with a dysfunctional side that dominated possession but failed to create or take real chance to score against a very limited Slovakia. This was Slovakia’s first clean sheet in tournament football.
We never thought we’d say this but Jordan Henderson actually played well and made the difference as he marked the dangerous Marek Hamsik. Eric Dier also played well but that is clutching a couple of straws from the pile of manure served up by Hodgson. He didn’t have a settled, coherent line-up before the tournament and constantly fiddles, plays people out of position and blunders boneheadly through disjointed tactical changes that make you wonder how he ever got the job let alone kept it after the last World Cup.
As Wales were romping to a 3-0 against Russia it means pitiful England finish second in the group and will play France in a quarter-final.
Roy tried desperately to play down his mistaken gamble by first trying to deny that he had made six changes because Sturridge and Vardy had been on the pitch at the end of the Wales match and then blustered that if we had won the game people wouldn’t have criticised – he is clearly losing the plot.
Tuesday 21 June
Northern Ireland only lost 1-0 to misfiring Germany and qualify as one of the best third placed teams. Poland secured the group’s second place with a comfortable win over Ukraine – who have had other things on their minds in recent years.
In the evening games Turkey beat the Czech Republic sending Petr Cech home and Croatia nicked a late winner to beat Spain and send the Spaniards to a round of 16 match with Italy on Monday. Can’t wait for that one.
Wednesday 22 July
Belgium managed to beat Sweden with Eden Hazard and Courtois in the side but it was not pretty. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has now officially retired so his gobby self-confidence will only grace the domestic stage – probably Old Trafford.
The Republic of Ireland beat Italy as Conte made eight changes, resting players ahead of Monday’s game with Spain. The Irish win means they will play France,
The Six Counties will play Wales and the other minnows of the group stage, Portugal, will play Croatia after Iceland’s late winner against Austria means England will meet the islanders in a revenge match for the Cod War.
Portugal could only manage a draw against Hungary who win the group. The draw was three each with the Iberians hauling themselves back in three times.
A bit of news from the home front and Charly Musonda will return to Real Betis for a season on loan after impressive displays last season. Charly is very slight of frame but could really flourish in Spain and we will watch with interest.
Thursday 23 June
Dermot Drummy snapped up Mitchell Beeney on loan at his new job at Crawley Town until January. Mitchell has won a hat-full of youth trophies with us and had a successful time with Newport County last season.
Drummy got the ball rolling for our academy and we will watch Crawley’s season with interest.
Juan Cuadrado and Colombia are out of the Copa, losing to Chile 2-0 in a semi-final in which rain stopped play for the first time in a football match.
The cataclysmic thunder storms where a touch more severe than the weather that usually suspends play at Lords.
Friday 24 June
No football news at all. This is now bleak and empty summers usually feel – no matches, no transfer activity, fun.
Saturday 25 June
The Euros roared back into life with a stultifying 1-1 draw between Switzerland and Poland. The Swiss equaliser was a peach but they could have saved themselves the extra-time as Poland won the shootout in any case.
Wales beat the North of Ireland by the odd clumsy own-goal as the tournament reminded us that football isn’t always beautiful.
In the evening and Croatia managed to fluff their lines and Portugal snatched a late winner denying us the sight of Ronaldo in tears again. It will come soon.
Sunday 26 June
Ah, watching the Republic can be really frustrating – leading for the best part of an hour and just as we were all planning a quarter-final party, France went and scored twice and Ireland lost a man and the game dwindled to a defeat.
Germany looked no more than functional in easily beating Roy Hodgson’s nemesis Slovakia. The Germans breezed through a comfortable 3-0 win without scares or trouble. That is what you get when you have a competent manager and a settled and effective team.
Belgium really hit the heights in thrashing Hungary 4-0. Hazard was mercurial again, feeding forward play and taking his goal with aplomb. They might have peaked too early but are still worth a bet.
Lionel Messi hung up his international boots after missing a penalty in Argentina’s Copa America shoot-out defeat to Chile. It was the second tournament in a row the Argentines lost to the same nation in the same way. Messi is only 29 so there is plenty of time for him to change his mind.zz