Will Roscoe talks England.

Will Roscoe talks about England.

On Tuesday evening England progressed to the Quarters of the European Championships as they beat Germany at a knockout stage of a tournament for the first time since becoming World Champions in 1966. Gareth Southgate’s men will go on to face Ukraine at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday night. Thus, I thought now was a perfect time to speak to someone who I know has had many great experiences as an England supporter about a range of differing subjects including his thoughts and feelings on the man that is currently leading England on their travels across the globe. 

Tranmere and England supporter Will Roscoe spoke to ‘www.EthanHoijord.com on Thursday afternoon.

How long has your love for the England national team been there and what are your great earliest memories? What is it about watching England that you love above everything else?

From as early as I can remember, England games in our family were always a family occasion. We would gather round the TV and watch the Three Lions. My mum would always decorate the outside of the house for every major tournament, a tradition she still does today at the age of 81. My earliest memory was Italia ‘90. I cried just as much as gazza that night. The most vivid tournament would have been USA ‘94 which England didn’t qualify for and the Euro ‘96.

When was your first England game and how long have you been following them on a regular basis? What are your greatest and worst experiences of watching the national team?

My first game was at the Euro’s in Portugal. Me and four other lads at the age of 21 packed our bags, grabbed our tents and booked the obligatory cheap Ryanair flight to Lisbon one way. We were youthful and full of energy and without a care in the world. It was also the tournament that a certain Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene. We didn’t have any tickets for the group games so we just followed them around the country and watched in fan parks. We managed to get tickets for the round of 16 against the hosts Portugal. Despite losing on penalties and that “ronaldo incident ” from that night on I was sold. This was me. 

International football means that you’ve had to travel across the globe to go to games. Where are the best places and football experiences that you’ve tasted and how does a World Cup differ, in terms of experience and novelty, to the Euros? 

I’ve only missed four away games since 2006. The best aways are ones where you would never normally go. Israel, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia etc. My favourite European city is Ljubljana, Slovenia, as for tournaments the best one was South Africa 2010. I’m not normally one for being a tourist but we saw some lovely places including Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.  We went to Pretoria and Johannesburg also.  Cape Town is most definitely the best city I’ve been to in the world and I’d definitely go back for a holiday.  There’s not much difference between the Euros and the World Cup. The majority of world powerhouses come from Europe, besides the likes of Brazil and Argentina, thus I’d say it’s just as hard to either.

Since you’ve been following England regularly, if you had to come up with a best and worst 5-a-side with a manager to manage them .. who would make your best and worst teams?  

Best 5 a side: David Seaman, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Gazza, Brian Robson and Shearer. They’d be managed by Gareth Southgate. 

Worst 5 a side: Rob Green, Wes Brown, Danny Mills, Nigel Reo Coker and David Nugent. The manager? Steve McClaren 

This summer, England have managed to get to the Quarters where they will play Ukraine in Rome on a Saturday night. How well do you think that manager Gareth Southgate has done? What has he done better than other managers or do you think that these successes are solely down to having a great team? 

Gareth Southgate gets a lot of criticism for his tactics, team selection etc but the one thing that stands out for me is the way he blocks the actual football from the outside noise, media, pundits , general public etc. He has his own beliefs and he sticks to them. The criticism he gets for me is beyond a joke. Nations League semi finalist, World Cup semi finalists, currently in the quarter finals of the euros and the way he has connected the nation with the team over the last four years is unbelievable.  I’ve never felt so close or connected with an England manager and team in the 30 years I’ve been following.  

Everyone has been shouting for Jack Grealish to start each and every game this summer as he is certainly one of our best players. Touching on the previous 5-a-side theme though, who would make yours from the current team and how do you think we would fare to other nations in a court game, are we as technical or as strong as other nations on the pitch at the moment? 

Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire, Kalvin Philips, Phil Foden, Harry Kane. Jack Grealish, for me, is a good player and is only going to get better but as previously stated Gareth is his own man and used him a lot less than people have been calling for and this may be part of the masterplan. The team wore down the Germans on Tuesday then he unleashed Jack just at the right time and well the rest as they say is history.  

The other side of the tournament draw is looking very tricky at the moment. If England do reach the finals they will face one of Italy, Spain, Belgium or Switzerland at Wembley. Who would you rather come up against on the greatest stage?

I don’t allow myself to even think about potential final opponents. It’s a question that managers and players bat away time after time. The old cliche one game at a time mentality but that’s how it’s got to be. There is no such thing as an easy game at this level and certainly at this stage in a tournament so we underestimate the Ukrainians at our peril. However, to answer your question without my manager’s head on, probably Spain out of the three. Italians look like a well oiled machine and Belgium aren’t world number ones for nothing. Any team with Kevin De Bruyne in is always hard to beat. 

England is currently a relatively frustrated country, given the Brexit scenario and the many differing opinions on different societal issues and this is something Southgate has commented on various occasions. How would you describe the national team’s role in combating some of these frustrations and how does the country differ from its being under different national team managers such as Capello etc?

This tournament is just what the country has needed especially with it basically being a home tournament. Tuesday night especially has galvanised the country and it’s a two way street. The players and manager said as much. They’ve missed that atmosphere and the feeling of winning a big game with a crowd and a nation backing them just as much as us and that’s what I mean about a special connection that I’ve never felt before with the England team. When they speak they sound like a fan in the pub.

They are as desperate to succeed as we are. I never had an issue with the foreign managers getting the England job. I quite liked Sven even though he never quite cracked it. At the time we appointed Capello I wasn’t against that either. A serial winner who takes no messing but the football ultimately turned out to be boring and the noises inside the camp was there was a lack of understanding translation wise and the rigid discipline approach ultimately failed. Especially in S.A 2010 when the players said they felt like they were in jail. Roy Hodgson was and is a nice guy but I think he was still paying for the previous regime’s faults and found it hard to motivate players like Rooney, Gerrard etc who had ultimately been worn down. Southgate openly admits he changed the whole ethos and setup: connecting with fans, putting the responsibility back onto the players and treating them like grown men not sporting puppets. Despite two semi finals and a current quarter final I’d say reconnecting the nation with this great team is his biggest achievement.  

How do you see the current system of football clubs in the country, given that there were some top flight clubs in the proposed European Super League. What do you think needs to be done, if anything, to create a fairer and more respected game across the nation?

I think enough water has gone under the bridge regarding the Super League and enough has been said on that. Fans unite when they need to and that’s exactly what happened. Clubs at all levels are businesses but no more so than at the top end I get that, what they don’t and didn’t get is the power of the people they see as customers. They are supporters not customers. If we and they have learned one thing from all of this is that fans have a bigger impact on the game than they actually think. When you hear managers and players say that the crowd are the 12th man and help to drive us on, I’ve always been like ‘we are not though are we?’ You should be able to perform in front of 1 person or 90 thousand. But what I’ve seen since being back in the ground is that it’s 100% true. How can you really play with passion and determination when the grounds are empty. I now get it. They feed us and we feed them. So hopefully now these owners of the so called big six and twelve have realised that they shouldn’t be biting the hand that feeds them.

Will enjoying a pint before an England game at the Russian World Cup of 2018!

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