TOin the midst of doom, a note of perspective. Actually, some of them, mainly from Raheem Sterling, the England team’s most experienced player with 63 caps, but also one through him from Gareth Southgate.
Sterling does not shy away from the disappointment of last Friday’s 0-0 draw with Scotland in the second set of qualifying rounds of the Euro 2020 group stage. He knows the team’s use of the ball was poor, they did not embrace the occasion properly . But the Manchester City winger also knows that when you factor in last Sunday’s 1-0 win over Croatia, England are still well prepared to advance and are even better positioned at this stage of the competition than previous winners. .
It was a point, according to Sterling, that Southgate made for his squad in the wake of the most stagnant of draws against the Scots. “Gareth showed us some statistics on the teams that have performed well in the tournament and where they were after the first two games,” Sterling said. “It just shows that it’s still early and we have a lot to build on and I really think we can do that.”
Portugal tied all three of their group matches in 2016 before stepping up and beating France in the final, while in 1992 Denmark tied their first match and lost their second match. That was the year they qualified only after Yugoslavia was expelled as a result of their country’s disintegration; the Danes would eventually overthrow Germany. At Euro 88, the Netherlands, which beat the Soviet Union in the final, lost their first match.
“The coach always shows us the best possible scenarios, the worst possible scenarios … when we were going to the World Cup, going into the Euro,” Sterling continued. “This was another scenario in which we have four points, it is not the end of the world. He tried to show us all the positives.
“He’s just showing us in previous tournaments that not all teams that win their first games end up winning. Sometimes the teams that have drawn their first two games have won, so we have to stay motivated, be happy and enjoy our football. “
Sterling has been touched by the wild extremes of life as an England player for the past week. First, he was the scoring hero against Croatia and how everyone loved the backstory to it all. Sterling grew up 500 yards from Wembley, saw the stadium rebuilt, and dreamed of one day scoring there for England in a major tournament. Then he was among the flops against Scotland, vilified for a 4/10 performance.
Sterling is the best competitor on the field, but far from it, he is conscious and relaxed, helped in part by the meditation he practices. In your position, it is vital not to go too high or low; balance is everything. “I feel like there is an overreaction [after Scotland] … There is more panic outside than inside the building, ”Sterling said. “I don’t see anyone in camp feeling pressure or feeling badly done.
“The best we can do is focus on the training field. The more you hear outside noise, the more it affects you. The positive is that we can go out on Tuesday [in the final group tie against the Czech Republic], get a good win and that second game [against Scotland] everything is forgotten “.
Right now, however, he is delaying, framing the Czech visit to Wembley. So what went wrong? “Scotland was a different kind of test and I felt we were drawn to their style of play,” Sterling said. “They threw things that we didn’t handle well enough and I think with the ball, we could have shown more personality, dominated more with the ball.
“It was strange to be involved. There was no real structure to the game in terms of this team having possession for this amount of time and the next team having a little. It was the other way around, the other way around, and it’s not very often that you get it internationally. As a team, we need to know where to identify that and take control. We can’t get caught playing a certain way when we want to use the ball much better. “
Scotland was not fun, but Sterling is generally enjoying his football for England, having said in an interview at the end of the Premier League season that he was “nowhere near” his best. “It’s just happiness, enjoying my football and that’s what I’m doing being here with the national team,” he said.
Sterling had lost his place as a regular at City since March 10, missing some important games, although he did start in the most important: the defeat in the Champions League final against Chelsea. “If you’re not playing, you’re not happy,” Sterling said. “That’s me since I was a kid.”
Now for the Czechs and Sterling they don’t have time for the notion that it might be better to draw and advance as group runners-up, thus avoiding France, Germany or Portugal in the round of 16. And it’s not because England could get Spain if they come second. “We haven’t talked about the permutations,” Sterling said. “The objective is to try to win the group and that’s it.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism