Gareth Southgate’s England shed old baggage and offer reason to believe | Daniel Taylor

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Cautious optimism is rooted in humility and work ethic rather than the arrogance with which recent sides have been associated

It is at times like these, if you have ever seen Henning Wehn’s stand-up routine, that you might recall how part of his act, as possibly the only German on the English comedy circuit, would be to walk out on stage with a replica of the World Cup trophy. Back in Germany, Wehn would explain, everybody kept one. And then he would hold it towards his audience, teasing them, asking if they understood how nice it felt to hold, caressing it close to his chest. Anyone want a touch? “This,” he said, “is the closest you will ever get to it.”

Maybe that still stands and England will find a way to fashion an exit from the World Cup that would be more in keeping with the way the team is usually perceived. The time, for example, in 2002 when Guus Hiddink led South Korea to the semi-finals and accused the European teams of being too defensive and too scared, noting that “England were the worst”. Or the occasion, perhaps, when Adriana Sklenarikova, the Slovakian Wonderbra model, offered her opinion. “Tony Blair is very good-looking but unfortunately he has no bravado,” she said. “Same with the England football team.”

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Written by Daniel Taylor in St Petersburg
This news first appeared on under the title “Gareth Southgate’s England shed old baggage and offer reason to believe | Daniel Taylor”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.