England’s World Cup was a surprise, to say the least. While most pundits had dismissed the side of ever having a hope in the tournament, the Englishmen managed to make it to the semi-finals, after all, only to be schooled quite well by Croatia.
Different perspectives tell a different tale about the month in Russia, some rendering it as a successful outing while others dismissing it as an easy attempt at football ‘coming home’ being thrown away in vain.
However, it is the feedback that the players have received that is interesting, to say the least.
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Speaking as a pundit to RT about England’s starting lineup in the third-place play-off against Belgium, Mourinho stated: “I was a little bit surprised that Sterling was in the team. He did not have a good World Cup.” While it is tempting to call bias, few can disagree with the Special One, particularly because Sterling’s woes were quite obvious in the matches leading up to the semi-final.
Jose added: “He didn’t have a good enough World Cup to be chosen for a match ahead of [Jamie] Vardy, [Danny] Welbeck, [Marcus] Rashford – people with probably better condition from a physical and psychological point of view.”
Gareth Southgate seemed to agree too late, as the third-place play-off saw Sterling being substituted for Marcus Rashford, which did little to change the 2-0 outcome in favor of Belgium.
The gaffer too, didn’t escape Mourinho’s criticism, once more for his lineup during the Belgium game: “I think also for a second goalkeeper to feel I didn’t even play in the third match of the group phase, I’m not playing in the third vs fourth match, when can I play. I think it’s quite frustrating for a guy like Butland or Pope.”
Wise words from Mourinho. Let’s see if the World Cup will have an impact in the manner in which his lads at Old Trafford function in the upcoming season.