I’m generally quite a realist, an outlook that slides towards pessimism where football is involved. Managers talk about managing expectations, well that’s what I do, I try as best I can to shield or detach myself from the potential disappointment.
Of course, that tactic holds out for only so long, until kick off maybe, until a goal or you get the feeling about the way the team is playing.
So, Wednesday (Thursday to most of you) was a killer. As some overheard conversations at breakfast the next morning described it, ‘it’s like a bereavement’. I’d done lots of local radio interviews on the morning of the game and predicted penalties, partly to prepare myself emotionally for that outcome. Never though, never, did the script in my head end the way it did in reality. It was too cruel, too freakish to imagine. Kelly Smith, who has been doing a fantastic job on FOX as a pundit (she’s all animated and funny and rocking the upbeat ‘American’ style analysis, oh and has now got 11 out of 13 results correct, it was 12 before our semi) used the word ‘EVIL’.
There were gut-wrenching scenes on the field at the final whistle, there were many tears in the stands, in the TV and radio studios, in sitting rooms across the land. Aping the positive comparisons with the England men’s side being made so regularly in the last week or two, I said on air on 5 Live, shortly after the final whistle that, “We even get knocked out in a more heart-breaking fashion than the men.” Sounds a bit crass now. Across the world, people were truly touched by the cruel twist and raw emotions. The #Lionesses had already connected with the English public, they have attracted wider sympathies now. And that respect and admiration was only amplified by the sheer class and magnanimity shown by both the coach and players in interviews almost immediately after the game. They said (and showed) they were gutted, they gave credit to Japan and wished them all the best and they wore their big hearts on their sleeves.
Neither are workable or likely at present but hypothetically, would you prefer a more strict salary cap in the FA WSL OR should centrally contracted England players (that receive salaries from The FA) be allocated more evenly around WSL1 clubs?