Everything was going nicely at Euro 2024. Then the grown men arrived

everything was going nicely at euro 2024. then the grown men arrived

At least the stadium was nice. Photograph: Andreas Rentz/Uefa/Getty Images

ON REPEAT

There’s something about the human brain that means it enjoys both stories and repeating patterns. So when we put those two things together we create magic that sustains our species and our planet. Consider – to pluck an example out of the air – the Euros. Roundabout tea-time on Sunday, everything was going nicely. Germany had got the good vibes and host nation going, thrashing the zany Tartan Army; Spain played beautifully in ravaging Croatia; Burnley goal-machine Wout Weghorst reprised his World Cup heroics against Poland; and Slovenia forced our first surprise-point, battling to a draw with Denmark for whom Christian Eriksen scored an affirming opener; lovely stuff.

Enter England.

Enter conflict. Whether historically scuffling in bars and squares, romanticising a devastating war that all involved in it strive to forget, or booing the opposition national anthem, England can be relied upon to lower any tone with their pure, uncut grown men action – and that’s before they’ve even played any football. Gareth Southgate has, we’ve learnt, established a new leadership team for these Euros, but for as long he remains part of it, the unmistakeable stench of 90s and noughties Palace, Villa and Boro will remain. The consequence of which is shrill columns such as this one b!tching their way through a facetious postmortem after just one game of a month-long tournament. The Daily hopes he’s proud of himself.

England actually played fairly well until Serbia decided they may as well compete, the feat of having one of the most talented squads ever assembled play like that, again, almost impressive. It was just a shame Andy Thorn, Phil King and Stuart Parnaby weren’t available to give it that hyper-real feel, but you do the best you can with the materials you have. So it was that we had Jordan Pickford thrashing balls at Harry Kane, Phil Foden wandering about like a monk at a rave and Declan Rice shouting as the game took place around him. Meantime, Trent Alexander-Arnold was asked to learn a central position that isn’t his on the job at a major tournament, because every now and again he might hit a nice pass or shot. Southgate’s failure to grasp that the best midfielders are the best short passers, not the best long passers, is no surprise given his background and, shrewd operator that he is, he watched his players toil and shrink, second-best to the team ranked 33 in the world, for a mere 40 minutes before making a change.

Then, instead of accentuating the chasmic talent imbalance between the squads, he delved deep into his experience of managerial legends such as Alan Smith, Howard Wilkinson and Steve McClaren, eventually removing the Liverpudlian to allow his least talented midfielder to spoil – as Kevin Keegan once did with him, to such overwhelming success. The result was a mess so complete that even Erik ten Hag felt empowered to laugh at it on television. But England hung on for the win so – once the 36 group matches, played in order to eliminate a whole eight of 24 teams, are over – their story will probably continue into the knockout stages. And maybe, just maybe, this repeating pattern will stop and we can finally move through the conflict stage to find some resolution.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join Daniel Harris from 2pm (all times BST) for hot MBM coverage of Romania 1-1 Ukraine, followed at 5pm by Belgium 2-0 Slovakia with Rob Smyth, while Michael Butler will then be on deck for Austria 1-3 France at 8pm.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I do think this time at the Euros my story is very different compared to last time which is obviously a big thing for me personally. I was very pleased. I did have in mind that I hadn’t scored at the Euros. Luckily there’s been a lot of games since that happened [cardiac arrest]. I didn’t think about anything else other than football” – Christian Eriksen reflects on his full-circle moment after scoring for Denmark in his first European Championship game since his on-field collapse in the 2021 tournament in which, in his own words, he “died for five minutes”.

EURO 2024 DAILY LETTERS

As uninspiring as our record in major tournament finals is, it feels quite harsh of Friday’s Euro 2024 Daily to completely erase our 3-0 victory over the very of-the-time CIS in 1992 and the 1-0 victory over the ever-neutral Swiss courtesy of the UK’s favourite co-commentator Ally McCoist at Euro 96. Given the all-too-infrequent nature of our tournament wins, to delete 40% of them from history feels like a cheap gut-punch. Of course, this email was written before our infamous [Snip – Euro 2024 Daily letters Ed]” – David Weaver (and 1,056 others).

May I also remind you of the glorious but ultimately futile 3-2 win against the Netherlands in 1978? Now there’s a country some people who saw the World Cup final that year might have heard of. Unfortunately, we’re good at futile. I’d get out more, but there’s Euro 2024 on, you know” – Gyan David Sharan.

Friday’s Euro 2024 Daily mentioned AC/DC and their song Rock & Roll Train. Reviewing the album containing that track, Black Ice, for Big Website, Alexis Petridis described AC/DC’s sound as ‘like Noel Edmonds’ hairstyle: it was hoisted into place at some point in 1974 and has remained almost entirely unaltered since”. Most people in football admire that sort of consistency with envy; in recent times, only the underperformance of expensive signings at Manchester United or high-profile managers at Chelsea even look like coming close” – Ed Taylor.

Send letters to [email protected]. Today’s letter o’ the day winner is … Ed Taylor, who wins a copy of Euro 84: The Greatest Tournament You Never Saw, by Pitch Publishing. Visit their bookshop here. Terms and conditions for our competitions can be viewed here.

A MESSAGE FROM THE MAN

Big Website is offering Euro 2024 Daily readers a special discounted rate for our all-access digital subscription which, we’re told, is the top level of support and gives you unlimited access to the app and ad-free reading. Get in! So click here to get 50% off the usual price for the first three months (and to see the terms and conditions). What are you waiting for? Become a Big Website ultra now!

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Join the Football Weekly Daily squad [yes, it throws us too – Euro 2024 Daily Ed] for their latest pod. Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts fix.

BIG (MAN) SUMMER

In the age of Pep Guardiola, when even the Dog and Duck XI gamely play out from the back and field a False Nine, it pleased Euro 2024 Daily enormously to see big men with a good touch making a thrillingly impactful return to the international stage this weekend. Wout Weghorst (6ft 6in) was the match-winner for the Dutch, Hungary’s scary 6ft 3in forward Martin Adam’s toes twinkled beautifully, Poland goalscorer Adam Buksa (6ft 3in) sparkled, Slovenian beanpole Benjamin Sesko (6ft 5in) showed Arsenal what they are missing and Germany’s barrel-chested 6ft 2in Russell Crowe-a-like, Niclas Füllkrug, continued his campaign to make “just smash it” a popular shout on modern terraces again. We’re only a few games into the Euros, mind, so there’s still plenty of time for the ball to start bouncing off the big lads up top. But we’ll look back on this Crouchian period in modern football fondly, even if it’s over before the weather warms up.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

One England fan and seven Serbs are facing criminal charges and tournament bans after a brawl involving 150 people before Sunday’s game between the two.

A man wielding a gold-tinted pickaxe who was carrying an incendiary device was shot in the leg by police near the fan park in Hamburg just hours before Netherlands’ 2-1 victory over Poland on Sunday.

Part of the Sonyachny Stadium, which was destroyed during the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, is to be displayed in Munich as a stark reminder of the destruction inflicted on Ukraine’s football scene.

Kylian Mbappé has found himself at the centre of his country’s political turmoil on the eve of France’s opening game against Austria, describing the tumultuous events back home as a pivotal moment for French history. “We are a generation that can make a difference,” he declared. “We see the extremes are knocking on the door of power and we have the opportunity to shape our country’s future.”

And Switzerland’s squad have had to move their training sessions because of the poor quality of grass at their camp. “The roots of the grass have died in several places,” sighed the Swiss federation. “Therefore, we will train Monday and Tuesday on the VFB Stuttgart training pitch at Robert-Schlienz-Stadion.”

STILL WANT MORE?

“To the disorder of Wembley in 2021 and the disgrace of Paris in 2022 and the dysfunction of Istanbul in 2023 can be added the disarray of Germany 2024. And while the symptoms may be different, the common thread is an apparent indifference to the ordinary fan experience, a capacity to spread misery, a very late-capitalist absence of basic human dignity at virtually every stage of the process” – Jonathan Liew on Uefa’s latest show of bumbling genius.

Barney Ronay looks at the Jude Bellingham Show in England’s opener, while Morgan Ofori joins Serbian fans to take in the game.

Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco has the skinny on his team and Philippe Auclair pays glowing tribute to Kevin De Bruyne, perhaps the continent’s best midfielder, someone unfiltered in a fashion so rare these days.

Georgia skipper Guram Kashia tells Lukas Vrablik about learning English through Football Weekly and why he has a tattoo of John Lennon on his arm.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Edward Iordanescu has helped Romania’s team emerge from a dark period with fresh hope. Nick Ames reports.

From Hyde United to Czech No 1: Jindrich Stanek’s unlikely journey to the Euros. By Will Unwin.

Roy Keane incandescent, Ally McCoist crestfallen, Limahl and a VAR expert who actually tells it like it is. John Brewin caught ITV and BBC’s tournament bows so you didn’t have to.

And Ewan Murray’s Jambo shorts fail to pass muster in a Munich sauna, while Scotland’s contingent do their best to forget what happened after the night before in his Euro 2024 diary.

BEYOND THE EUROS

Football has paid multiple tributes to two men, taken too young. Kevin Campbell was the highly-popular former Arsenal, Nottingham Forest and Everton striker who passed away at 54, while Millwall were “completely devastated to announce that Matija Sarkic has died at the age of 26”, the goalkeeper falling ill while back home in Montenegro. Campbell’s obituary can be read here.

Graeme Souness has provided a positive update on the health of former Liverpool and Scotland teammate Alan Hansen, who has been ill in hospital. “I spoke to him yesterday and he sounded fabulous so I hope that’s him on the way to a full recovery,” said Souness.

The new Brighton manager is 31-year-old Fabian Hürzeler, of none-more hipster 2.Bundesliga winners St Pauli, the first dugout dweller to be younger than the actual Premier League. “He has a style of play that aligns with how we want a Brighton team to play,” grooved moneyman Tony Bloom.

Spurs midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur has apologised to captain Son Heung-min for using a racial slur on Uruguayan TV, admitting it was a “very bad joke”.

And Argentina are in good nick for the Copa América, Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martínez scoring twice as they beat Guatemala 4-1 in their final warm-up game. The tourney proper kicks off on Thursday in the USA USA USA.

RECOMMENDED SHOPPING

We’ve got a host of classic Euros photos from yesteryear available to snap up in our print shop. Have a peruse right here.

MEMORY LANE

A lovely shot from 2012, as a local boy fetches the ball from a field during a game in Lisewo, a village near Spain’s Euro 2012 base in Gniewino. La Roja ended up going all the way, eventually seeing off Italy 4-0 in the final.

HEAVY MEDDLE

OTHER NEWS

22 minutes ago

Canada imposes cap on residential school searches

22 minutes ago

From Landa and Carapaz to Almeida and Yates: These men will light up the Vuelta and ensure an exciting, open battle

22 minutes ago

Blue Line's Bill Baruch: I believe in Tesla

22 minutes ago

Kevin Hart Has Tom Brady Roast Regrets, Vows To Do Things Different In Future Prep

22 minutes ago

Suspect in custody after hours-long standoff in Schaumburg following shooting stemming from noise dispute

22 minutes ago

Singapore PE manager Seraya adds $969m offshore wind company to its renewables platform

22 minutes ago

US spot Ether ETFs make strong market debut in another win for crypto industry

22 minutes ago

NSW Police called to Lawrence after truck enters Clarence River

22 minutes ago

AQWA: Police probe as video shows people fishing out of Hillarys aquarium

22 minutes ago

‘He deserves some respect’: Trent Barrett locks in Clint Gutherson at fullback over Blaize Talagi for rest of the year

22 minutes ago

Global tech slump knocks Asia shares

31 minutes ago

Suns owner Mat Ishbia wants to bring NHL back to Phoenix

34 minutes ago

Gina Carano Beats Disney’s Move To Kill ‘Mandalorian’ Firing Suit; Now Trial Looms

34 minutes ago

Colman Domingo Shares ‘Euphoria’ Season 3 Update & If He’ll Reprise His Role Of Ali

35 minutes ago

Crown argues accused in Coutts murder-conspiracy trial prepared for war

35 minutes ago

Store clerk stole $1M lottery ticket from unsuspecting winner, police say

35 minutes ago

Letter: Please explain the draw to Donald Trump

35 minutes ago

India budget highlights main issues but doesn't devote resources to them: Former central bank governor

35 minutes ago

Top U.K. rider out of Olympics after horse-whipping video surfaces

35 minutes ago

Braxton Kuntz makes Manitoba golf history with 4th straight amateur crown

35 minutes ago

LOOK: Kadarius Toney throws ball at George Karlaftis after hard hit, Travis Kelce gets in mix

35 minutes ago

Colin Kaepernick Raises $4M In A Funding Round Led By Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six To Launch An AI Startup

35 minutes ago

Javier Mascherano brands Argentina's chaotic 2-1 Olympic football defeat by Morocco a 'circus' after pitch invasion delays contest for over an HOUR before equaliser is chalked off by VAR

35 minutes ago

2nd Regina Costco being planned for west end

35 minutes ago

‘BMF’ Actor Da’Vinchi Reflects On Changing His Reality After Growing Up In Poverty: ‘I’m Still In My 20s — And Now My Parents Are Retired’

35 minutes ago

ServiceNow President and COO CJ Desai resigning effective immediately

35 minutes ago

FBI director grilled over Donald Trump's near assassination

35 minutes ago

Max Verstappen ordered by Red Bull to stop staying up late playing video games before races after finishing fifth in Hungary… so why DOES the world champion spend hours on his £10k setup?

35 minutes ago

Jays sting Rays 6-3 with a four-run eighth inning

35 minutes ago

Japan's Nikkei drops nearly 3% as Asia-Pacific markets slide, tracking Wall Street sell-off

35 minutes ago

Cold winter drives electricity demand to record levels as the Coalition promotes nuclear power

35 minutes ago

Lions urged to resist Hipwood switch

35 minutes ago

Olympics-Soccer-Fans run into the pitch as Argentina rescue 2-2 dramatic draw against Morocco

35 minutes ago

Video: Budgeting expert reveals her easy money-saving hack that will stop you from making impulse buys

35 minutes ago

Video: Kyle Sandilands' ex Imogen Anthony loses it at her Uber driver for 'having phone sex' with girlfriend while driving: 'I don't want to die today'

35 minutes ago

State of the Nation: All Blacks ‘still a work in progress’ but ‘tracking in the right direction’ under Scott Robertson

35 minutes ago

Car production down 7.6% in first half of year as manufacturers switch to EVs

35 minutes ago

Russian MT-LB Armored Vehicles Near Extinction Due to Heavy Losses in Ukraine

35 minutes ago

Springboks: Jake White backing Bulls star to add value in Rugby Championship

35 minutes ago

July Windows 10 update causes blue screen reboot loops – here’s the fix