World Cup 2022 briefing: Business time for England against Senegal

The main event

After all that noise – the joy, the triumphalism, the entitlement, the schadenfreude, the self-loathing – England had the best record of any team in the group stage at Qatar 2022. It shows how far they have come under Gareth Southgate that seven points and nine goals, the latter a record for England at a major tournament, was not enough to please Twitter’s finest.

Even in the hysterical world of the England national team, it’s hard to remember the last time that the balance between on-field achievement and off-field angst was so far out of whack, and that is unlikely to change unless England win handsomely against Senegal tonight. After a semi-final in 2018 and a final last year, the louder elements of the media, traditional and social, have come to a near unanimous conclusion: Southgate is holding England back.

The received wisdom is that England have an embarrassment of riches in attacking areas. Fine players though they are, we might be confusing the…

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This article was written by Rob Smyth, Will Magee, Will Unwin, Gregg Bakowski, Luke McLaughlin and Niall McVeigh and originally published on