Sunday, 21 July 2019

Women's World Cup 2019 Review by a Fan of No Importance Part 2

True to the title of this post, here come some more observations on the Women's World Cup 2019 by a Fan of No Importance:

ENGLAND  

Semi-final failure in France was far more deserving of the 'Heroes' headline that the men got last summer after defeat at the same stage. 

In truth, the path to the last four was similarly kind, including a win over a Scandinavian nation in the quarter final, but there were periods of defensive struggle against Cameroon in the last 16 tie (until VAR and a collective meltdown came to their aid) and an inability to kill off the Argentine amateurs in the group stage that left them hanging on to their one goal lead. Although already through by the time of the Japan game, their resolve to finish top was boosted by their opponents' compelling inability to convert a series of second half chances.

Although Jodie Taylor finished off Beth Mead's piercing cross for the goal against Argentina, her overall rusty performance was possibly the catalyst for Phil Neville to confirm the binoculars-promoting Ellen White as the player responsible for deciding games against technically superior but toothless opposition - as Taylor was in the Euros in Holland in 2017.

White's six goals vindicated her selection, and unlike Harry Kane, didn't require any penalties to reach that haul - although her contribution in that respect might have been handy as it turned out. Cruelly, it was the leader and Milly Bright's carer, Steph Houghton ("Horton"), who stepped up to take the penalty against USA, putting to one side her main duty of bailing her team out when the going got sloppy.

Defensive improvements will be required for the next international competition. The midfield is a good mix of guile and spirit whoever plays in there, and we clearly breed goalscorers, so England must stand a great chance of at least repeating their achievement in 2023. Fran Kirby was a slight disappointment, although showed her usual deft touches (particularly in scoring against Sweden in the 3rd/4th play-off) at times, and use of her footballer's bum to spin off defenders. I thought Beth Mead, solid down the left and a devilish crosser, was unlucky to start so few games.

Phil Neville

Barely managed to shift any waistcoats, although at least didn't burst out off his natty attire in vanity anger unlike his rather horrible predecessor liked to in Euro 2017. For all his hypocrisy and whining, at least Phil isn't Mark Sampson. He'll always have that.

Megan Rapinoe   

Love her activism, love her calling out of Trump, loved her sense of destiny, didn't love so much her refusal to track back. Yes, maybe at 34, US coach Jill Ellis asked her to reserve energy, and yes, the Golden Boot perhaps backed up that approach, but it would have been fascinating to see how she would have coped with Lucy Bronze in the semi final. Would Crystal Dunn have been left to fend for herself? Would Christen Press have played anyway, even if Rapinoe was fit? I just like attacking left sided players to help out going the other way, to be more Ryan Giggs than Gareth Bale. Overall, though, an important, positive role model in the emerging force of women's football.

Jonathan Pearce      

So often strayed into Richard Madeley territory with co-commentator Sue Smith that I could almost see him there in the commentary box in full Ali G get-up and blacked-up face, throwing poorly executed hand gestures and inferring discrimination.  Steve Wilson, out in France for a couple of games, would have been a better fit, of course, but I suspect "JP" wanted it more.

Sue Smith

Like Steph Houghton with Millie Bright, played the carer role with professional empathy. Didn't fall for any of the provocation coming her way, rising above the patronising and the taunting to deliver insights and observations in a calm and authorative manner.   

More on the  BBC team in Part 3!  



          

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