England 6-1 Panama – Six Talking Points
Stick or twist?
Gareth Southgate faces some tricky calls as he considers which players he should pick against Belgium – particularly if, as expected, Roberto Martinez makes a number of changes.
The England manager will want to keep up the momentum whilst also freshening up the pack. Expect minor tweaks rather than a radical overhaul on Thursday night from the pragmatic England boss.
Show no fear
For far too long, England fans and pundits alike have worried far too much about what teams England may have to face, and that mentality looks as if it’s creeping in again as debate rages as to whether Southgate’s side should look to top the group or settle for second place.
England need to learn from their Iceland experience and realise there is no such thing as an easy draw – and trying to plot a favourable route can come back to bite you. If they keep their current form up, why not let other teams do the worrying?
When your luck is in, it’s in…
As absurd as it might be to suggest this, Harry Kane has not played particularly well at this tournament. As things stand, however, he has one hand on the Golden Boot with five goals – just one off a certain Gary Lineker’s final tally in 1986.
Just imagine what could happen if he can find another gear – and most fans will be confident the ruthless Spurs striker will. Not that they will care too much how the England captain gets his goals…
The Panama goal – win-win for everyone?
Their national team’s antics on the pitch may have left a lot to be desired, but after such an incredible journey just to reach this World Cup, the Panama fans surely deserved their moment in the sun and made the most of their goal.
England’s sloppy defensive play in the second half will also help Southgate concentrate minds going in to the knockout stages. A consolation goal takes some of the stardust off the win, but that’s probably no bad thing going forward.
Believe in this band of brothers
England’s long-term strategy of building teams up from youth levels looks like it’s finally bearing some fruit at the highest level.
These players look as if they enjoy their football and each other’s company – and that’s not something you can say for every England side of years gone by.
With England now winning regular silverware at youth levels, credit has to go to the FA for finally sticking with a sensible long-term approach.
Embrace the feelgood factor
It’s been a rough couple of years for England fans, and even if the calibre of opposition Gareth Southgate’s side have faced so far at World Cup 2018 has hardly been A-List, it’s important to enjoy the moment and reflect on how far this side have come in a short space of time.
It’s not a given that the classes of 2014 or 2016 would have enjoyed such a relaxed day at the office yesterday – and that is progress in itself.
Follow us and tweet @Marathonbet
All image sources from PA Images