7/12/2018 8:49:06 PM (GMT+3)

Sterlings, Trippiers overshadow Beckham, Rooney era

Sterlings, Trippiers overshadow Beckham, Rooney era

SOCHI, Russia: Despite the defeat against Croatia, England has surprised everyone at the World Cup with a very young side who almost made their second final after 1966.    

The past English sides have been mocked and jeered not by their fans but by the experts, who felt that the Three Lions were simply over-rated.

It has been true at all the World Cups barring the 1990 edition (in Italy) where they had reached the last four.

“Don’t look back in anger,” the fans sang to heartbroken players who stood drained and defeated in front of them on Wednesday night.  

Whether it’s their set-piece innovations or tenacity, Gareth Southgate inculcated a self-belief which was so crucial to their survival in the tournament.

A country which boasts of the best and richest leagues in the world has never been able to garner respect and awe from their opponents and football-lovers.

The David Beckham or Wayne Rooney era was a hyped one, with the former was more of a glamourous model than a player who could turn a match.

Yes, Beckham was good in free-kicks, but that’s not how a player should be judged. He was popular among his legion of women fans, but never been an outstanding player like Luca Modric.

There was a definitive lack of cohesion in those English sides which had one Beckham, one Rooney and Steven Gerrard.

But Russia 2018 may have changed all that and with a positive road map and the Sterlings, Rashfords, Allis and Trippiers stand to gain a lot.

They’re the cream of English football including their inspirational captain Harry Kane, who tops the scoring chart with six goals.

But the Tottenham Hotspur forward was not in his elements and missed a couple of chances including one header which went wide in stoppage time against Croatia.

“With experiences, they’re going to become only better in next two years. There’s a lot of positives to take from this tournament,” said Southgate, who was associated with his country’s junior development programmes.

If his side wins against Belgium in the third-match play-off in Saint Petersburg on Saturday, it will be a consolation prize but good enough to bolster English football.

Trippier scored a gem of a goal from a free-kick fifth minute after start. The shot, which curled over the Crotian wall and landed into the net, was all about confidence laced in it.

England chugged along, but lost the plot once Modric re-energised the team with his great piece of work, culminating in goals from Ivan Perisic (61st) and Mario Mandzukic (extra-time).