Let's put England's World Cup performance in perspective

England manager Gareth Southgate
England manager Gareth Southgate
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Having just put on my suit of  armour, as a fan of the much tougher sport of rugby league, where players do not writhe on the pitch in agony after the slightest physical contact, and then make a miraculous recovery helped by the magic sponge and the award of a hoped-for free kick, I am writing to ask the FA and all England football supporters to face up to reality in assessing the team’s performance at the World Cup.

While not being a fan of football, I still wished England every success in their quest to return with the cup, last brought to these shores in 1966.

Am I alone in thinking that the national media has blown out of all proportion the coverage and accolades given to the team and manager in their progress during the competition – and overrated our players’ performance?

By all means support the team, but do not be blinded by patriotic fervour in believing that the team is playing better than it actually is.

To put the team’s performance into a true perspective, they were fortunate to have a comparatively easy group draw with Belgium, Panama, Tunisia – hardly mainstream opponents at World Cup level.

To help their progress, having lost to Belgium 1-0 after making eight team changes and finishing second in the group, the fact that the mainstream teams Brazil, Spain, Germany and Argentina were all beaten made our task easier as to facing further “formidable” opposition to the final.

At the knock-out stage, we drew 1-1 with Colombia and won on penalties, thanks to them missing a kick after our initial miss.

Fair enough, we beat Sweden 2-0, again hardly a top flight team, and then lost to Croatia 2-1 in the semi final. To cap it all, we then lost again to Belgium 2-0 in the play-off for the bronze medal.

Hardly the play that football dreams are made of – as when our lads triumphed in 1966 against much tougher opposition.

Cyril Olsen

Address supplied