In his seventh exclusive column for CaughtOffside, Jon Smith, one of football’s first-ever agents and a man who was an integral figure in the forming of the Premier League, reflects on England’s Lionesses’ historic Euros win on Sunday, discusses the men’s upcoming World Cup campaign, and assesses Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncertain Manchester United future.
England Women’s Euros win and Chloe Kelly’s seminal moment…
There is only one place to start – well done the Lionesses!
What an excellent evening of sport Sunday gave us. England have finally won a major international trophy and it is all thanks to Sarina Wiegman’s female Lions.
Chloe Kelly’s extra-time winner and her iconic celebration, which saw her swing her jersey above her head, will undoubtedly become a seminal moment.
The atmosphere inside Wembley was fantastic. There weren’t many drunken fans falling all over one another, which was great too, but while everyone is saying ‘this is superb, this is the future’, one does fear that last weekend could just be another London 2012 moment.
British long jumper Greg Rutherford was also hailed a hero 10 years ago but it didn’t take long for his Olympic gold medal to become ‘just another moment in time’, and something that quickly disappeared into the sporting archives. I hope the same thing does not happen to our women’s international football team.
One real big positive to come out of the Lionesses’ Euros win will be the commercial support the likes of Beth Mead and captain Leah Williamson will receive.
I really do hope that if they start dishing out accolades, such as OBEs, they give them to the entire team and don’t single out individuals because this campaign was a real big team effort.
All fans can be influenced by Sunday’s atmosphere…
When I was growing up and standing on the terraces, we expressed raw emotion, but it was contained within a healthy framework. We have since pushed the barriers so far in the opposite direction, that we now have sections of fans going as far as to boo their own national anthem.
I think the best thing Sunday’s historic win could do is prompt fans to wake up today and say to themselves ‘that was really good and maybe I should be influenced by the occasion’s feel-good vibe’.
It may not have that effect and fans, particularly those of the men’s game, may not be bothered and just see Sunday’s conclusion to the Women’s European Championship as a step closer to the beginning of the men’s Premier League, but I think it is a really big talking point, and one that I hope leaves a lasting and positive impression.
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Not sure the men’s team can replicate the women’s in November…
Looking ahead to the men’s World Cup in Qatar later this year, England should definitely get out of Group B.
It won’t be ‘easy’ because no competitive games are ever ‘easy’, but Gareth Southgate will be expecting his Three Lions to make the knockout stage quite comfortably.
Whether or not the team can go all the way remains to be seen, but the humidity will certainly be a problem. It is zapping!
Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncertain Man United future will rumble until window’s final week…
Moving away from international to domestic football, the news headlines are once again dominated by Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The latest reports are all about him supposedly leaving Old Trafford before the end of the Red Devils’ last pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano on the weekend.
Personally, it seems to me that a lot is being made of… Well, not a lot!
I am confident that Ronaldo’s departure ahead of time would have been agreed by the club and manager Erik ten Hag, and who knows, it is very possible that the 37-year-old had somewhere else to be, probably fitness related, like a physio appointment, or an ice bath.
When it comes to the possibility of him leaving United for the second time in his career, I am not sure many clubs are queuing up to sign him.
He’s a very, very expensive addition and at the age of 37 (38 just after Christmas), he really is just one significant injury away from retirement, and I am not convinced there are many clubs out there prepared to take that risk, especially when he would arrive with virtually no resale value.
The aspects mentioned above were the main reasons why I fancied Newcastle United to try their luck. I know they’re nowhere near being in the Champions League, which is reported to be Ronaldo’s first priority, but in terms of a ‘statement’ signing, you won’t find much bigger. Admittedly, it doesn’t look like that move is ever going to happen but with his options so few and far between, it is going to be an interesting four weeks, that is for sure.
Although, as things stand, it does look like the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be seeing out his contract at Old Trafford, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Todd Boehly take the bait if he finds himself still struggling to get deals over the line come the window’s final week.