Why did Kane take the 2nd pen?

Published: Tuesday, 13 December 2022

I thought I’d keep a low profile during the main body of the WC - and let the competition do the talking for me. I’m glad I did. It’s been good hasn’t it?

Despite the hysterical nonsense about life in Qatar - and the 8 hour pre-tournament lectures re-etiquette for visiting journo’s and broadcasters - which had some of my colleagues on other channels threatening to leave even before we got started - I don’t think it could be gone any better. By the way - none of the ‘warnings’ counted for anything, but it was very much in keeping with the narrative of spoiling the event.

This WC has been a celebration of colour - peoples - race - gender and football - just as we were promised by the organisers. It’s been a WC for everyone. I’ve called it The People’s WC.

Was banning alcohol - and falling into line with U.K. stadium protocol - such a big deal after all? Of course it wasn’t. It added to the spectacle. Families have loved the atmosphere. It hasn’t been threatening. There’s been little if any trouble. To be frank - not having hoards of the same drunken English louts that ruined the Euro 2000 final, roaming the streets and wrecking the fan parks was an absolute delight.

The Daily Mail tried harder than most English newspapers - but in the end even they ran out of steam - and nonsense stories.

They didn’t even recognise their own hypocrisy. I laughed out loud one day when they ran a story about ‘searing Qatari heat’ right next to one about Liverpool enjoying their ‘warm weather training’ in Dubai. Please. Come on. Which is it? 😂😂😂. German wags even complained the stadiums were too cold. How many drinks breaks have you counted? That’s right - none.

The football has been fantastic. Every day it felt as though we got a bigger story the the previous one. Saudi beating Argentina. Who saw that? Japan beating Germany and Spain. Germany’s exit. The demise of Belgium’s golden generation. The Dutch - who didn’t want their fans to come. In the end Louis you were right - it would’ve been a waste of money. You were never going to win it. Ronaldo’s meltdown. Messi’s magic. Mbappe’s power. Morocco’s miracles. And England’s predictable car crash We’ve had it all and we’re not done yet.

Morocco’s incredible run to the semi-finals has delighted everyone in my part of the world. Isn’t that what a WC is about? You couldn’t - almost certainly wouldn’t - have written a script quite like it - an Arab WC providing the platform for an Arab nation to rip up the norms and make the semi-finals. Perfect.

And England? Oh dear - so, so predictable. At least this time we were saved the ridiculous hysteria. Not good enough I’m afraid. Still not good enough. Too nice. They reflect the coach. ‘Nice’.  How can you pick up only one booking on a run to the quarter-finals?

Look at Argentina in the face of that Dutch aggression. They snarled. They bit back. They won. England? We rolled over and had boys playing men. 

Gareth Southgate promised us that nothing would be left to chance. Except it was. Why did Kane take the second pen? Didn’t anyone think about changing the kicker if we got two pens?

I’m not being smart after the event. I was screaming at Kane as he set the ball a second time ‘let someone else have it’.

Under normal circumstances - a pen against anyone but a club colleague - I wouldn’t have been bothered, but the pressure was too much. He’d already scored one - outsmarting Lloris. The first pen was magnificent. He took his time. He was strong. He went to his ‘safe’ side and smashed his kick past Lloris. Job done. Don’t go through it again.

Lloris was waiting for him the next time. Advantage keeper. Add in that somewhere in his mind Kane knew this was a chance to break Rooney’s England goal scoring record - his heart would’ve been pounding because he must also have been thinking ‘score and we’ll win’….and it all became too much.

Kane chose his ‘safe’ side again - but knew Lloris was going that way this time, so he had to get it high and over the keeper’s dive. He did that alright.

Why not give the ball to someone else? Lloris would’ve been totally confused - so the advantage would’ve been back with the kicker. There’s no way Lloris would’ve expected to face anyone but Kane. Don’t tell me we didn’t have anyone else on the pitch capable of taking a pen - Southgate told us he’d been preparing for a shoot-out for months - so someone was available. Small margins. Critical margins.

So we came up short again. I’m afraid I don’t agree with those that think Southgate should carry on. He’s had his time. We need a change. We need someone to instil a bit of devil into England again.

I’m not sure Southgate has ‘taken England on’. If he has - to where from where? We’ve always been good at losing quarter-finals at the WC.

We should’ve won the Euros at Wembley. That tournament was set up for us to win - but Southgate froze. He was outsmarted by Mancini. Gareth is a nice guy - but nice guys don’t win very much. He’s an FA man. He’s just too vanilla.

No. Move on Gareth. My shout? Arsene Wenger. Please.