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Bacon’s Bites: Sorry, but Southgate was wrong to rest so many players - and here’s why!

PUBLISHED: 12:56 29 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:29 29 June 2018

England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of the Belgium clash. Lots of pressure on his team now against Colombia Photo: PA

England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of the Belgium clash. Lots of pressure on his team now against Colombia Photo: PA

PA Wire

Mike Bacon reflects on England’s meek defeat to Belgium and asks - was it all really worth it?

England players line-up before the FIFA World Cup Group G match at Kaliningrad Stadium against Belgium Photo: PAEngland players line-up before the FIFA World Cup Group G match at Kaliningrad Stadium against Belgium Photo: PA

I suppose we won’t know until 9pm on Tuesday night if it was the right decision.

But views are certainly mixed as to whether England boss Gareth Southgate was right to make so many changes to his winning team last night.

The defeat to Belgium was... well, it was really pretty dull... The acid test of beating Colombia lies ahead.

I would have liked to have seen England just get on with it against Belgium and steamroller on.

Play the same team that thrashed Panama and beat Tunisia. Continuity the key. Don’t worry about niggles and injuries.

You would be surprised how few injuries a football team picks up when they are on a hot streak.

Forget yellow cards. Blank all the noise of what might happen and what might be. Who we could meet here, who we could meet there.

It’s the World Cup, it’s one month of football every four years and England’s record isn’t great.

All teams have taken squads big enough to fill two teams and plenty of top players backing up.... oh that’s right, top players.

I’m almost embarrassed for the likes of Eric Dier, Jamie Vardy and Danny Rose that commentators suggest they were playing for England B against Belgium, in a World Cup fixture.

How does that make them feel?

And while I appreciate Southgate wants to keep everyone happy, happy ship, happy, clappy training sessions, the bottom line is he’s there to win the World Cup, not give everyone a game!

If you’re good enough, you’re in!

No, I’m not turning on the England team, far from it. I’m just cross!

I’ve been so impressed by the way Southgate has handled the fans, the media and got his young players believing they can compete on the world’s biggest stage, that I had just hoped he would change our mentality completely.

I almost feel let down that we haven’t stuck two fingers up and gone out against Belgium all guns blazing, Harry Kane on the scoresheet again, Jesse Lingard bossing the midfield.

Belgium's Dedryck Boyata directs a header on goal during the Belgium v England clash on Thursday night Photo: PA SPORTBelgium's Dedryck Boyata directs a header on goal during the Belgium v England clash on Thursday night Photo: PA SPORT

Doing something England have never done in major tournaments for years... attack, attack, attack!

What have we learned from the Belgium loss anyway? Nothing!

Yes, should England beat Colombia and then Switzerland or Sweden, then a semi-final is in the offing.

The fact the Swiss are ranked six places higher in the FIFA rankings than England appears to hold few fears. I just hope it all doesn’t come crashing down.

Hopefully the ‘masterplan’ is just that.

Because there is little doubt had England finished top after beating Belgium, I think they would see off Japan. And if they did lose to Brazil or Mexico in the last eight, it’s not great, but at least the team have had a real go.

But think now.

If England lose to Colombia and whimper out in the last 16, fingers will be pointed, eyes will roll, same old England. That would be a big shame because this squad doesn’t deserve that.

Belgium players celebrate their side's winner against England Photo: PABelgium players celebrate their side's winner against England Photo: PA

I hope I’m completely wrong.

I hope Southgate, who is a jolly good egg, has got it right and that the players stand up and are counted in no uncertain terms against Colombia and go deeper into the competition.

I’m as patriotic as the next English man or woman and would love nothing more than to see Kane lifting the World Cup on July 15.

I’m right behind the boys, just as you are.

I’m also a tad bloody cross after all the excitement of the first two weeks... Hope you understand!

What about you?

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