Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir moves in to stop England's Dele Alli (r) and Croatia's Ivan Rakitić during their semifinal clash at the ongoing World Cup. They came through an easy group, landed on the weaker side of the draw and beat Colombia - who had lost their best player to injury - on penalties. They had a 1-0 lead over a exhausted team and still lost. Building a far easier and more open relationship between team and media, he told the players not to fear the headlines and instead write their own history. And that was glaringly absent after England went 1-0 up in the 5th minute. But the Croatians appeared to have wised up to this, and tried to avoid giving away free kicks near the penalty box.
One would have thought that such an early goal would herald some good football from England but it proved counterproductive.
"I'm happy with my performance in all the games".
"We prepared to get to the final and we want to play it", he said. He could not function within the framework of a team.
"And the make up of the team was all wrong tonight".
If I remember well, England came with many other strikers. I could not understand why Kane could not be substituted. He never won a ball cleanly and in the rare occasions he got the ball, he gave it right back to the opponent. If the centre of a team can not hold, the peripheries will be starved. He was evidently instructed to get the ball forward quickly, which made sense, as Raheem Sterling's pace was causing trouble for Croatia.
World Cup final: "For a country like Croatia, it's something historic to be in the final of a World Cup". Team managers responded by hunting for players with the skills to score field goals. Mispasses and bad crosses marked his game. Jesse Lingard sent a timorous shot off target, in stark contrast to the thumping goal he scored against Panama from a similar position. He ran from pillar to post with nothing to show for his efforts.
Overall, there are many more positives than negatives for England from the World Cup campaign.
England too left Italy 28 years ago feeling that the team featuring Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne could have gone all the way.
Such comments dampened the mood and cast a Croatia side that has done so much right in Russian Federation in a bad light. That was the "little extra" which turned a 1-1 game of two halves over 90 minutes into their game to win - and win they did.