Allow me to indulge in something non-window-industry related for a moment…
I want to start off by offering Gareth Southgate an apology, not that he will be reading this at any point, but at the time he was appointed England manager, myself, and many others, were almost at despair. Not a big name, not a huge amount of experience, not a person pouring with charisma. I thought we had missed the boat to get a pedigree name.
Yet, here we are. We sailed through qualification, won a hard win against Tunisia and then at the weekend put half a dozen past Panama. England finally being clinical and putting the weaker team to the sword. Gareth Southgate has gone quietly, unassumingly about his business, putting a plan together with the right people in the right places, and all that hard work is paying off. So, Gareth, I’m sorry!
England have got out of the group stage, something we failed to do last time, and have a game against Belgium on Thursday which should provide a proper test of the squad. Providing both sides put out quality sides and play for a win instead of a draw, which has been rumoured.
Either way, with expectations very low, the manner of their wins and general attitude and effort levels have begun to inspire England fans to believe that we could actually progress in this tournament. Some getting very excited and believing we can win. I’m a bit more realistic. I think we could reach the quarters, perhaps the semis at a push. We still have a young squad and much to learn.
But crucially, even just a quarter final or semi final place could have very positive benefits for the UK as a whole.
Back to the business perspective. It is well known that big, positive sporting events, like an Ashes win, or Rugby World Cup win, can do wonders for the national mood, and in turn, the economy too. Well I think that a decent finish for England in this World Cup could create a positive, feel-good mood for the country. Remember, we entered expecting nothing. We all remember too well how we lost to Iceland just a couple of years ago. So the bar is set low. Anything past the last 16 is going to go down really well here, and expectations will rise further as more and more of us believe we could be capable of going all the way.
Happy people equals spending people. Always has. We have the added bonus too that the weather over the past few weeks has been pretty good by UK standards, and we’re in the middle of another heatwave. So if you’re a pub, bar, restaurant or general entertainment venue, this is perfect. We just need to make sure we have enough CO2 to make sure there is enough beer and prosecco to go round.
Now I’m not saying that there is going to be a direct effect from England doing well turning into more window sales. That link would be flimsy at best. But a happier consumer may find that the bigger ticket decisions become a bit easier to make if the mood is more positive.
I actually think in the very short term it could go a bit quiet if England start to progress. I have written before about how big national and international events like this can cause a dip in business activity until it finishes. It’s worth remembering also that not long after the World Cup ends it will be nearly time for the school summer holidays. Another natural business dip in our year as families go away on their holidays.
Back to the football again, if you’ll indulge me one more time…
If you were to ask me my own predictions, I would give a cautious quarter final place to England, but perhaps that would be as far as we get this time round.
Personally, I stopped watching England a few years ago. The dreary qualifying campaigns, the almost pointless friendlies and the lack of energy and passion when it came to the games that mattered meant I completely switched off from watching the national team. However, I have watched our last two games, as well as the two warm-up games prior to the start of the World Cup and I have been pleasantly surprised by what I have seen. It’s not the usual England. It’s almost South American the way we have been playing. One touch football, playing out from the back, not resorting to the panic long ball when things look tight. It looks like we have a plan, a method and a genuine team mentality that could see us progress.
I do however remain cautious about getting too excited at this stage. We have all been let down many times before. I don’t want to get my hopes raised for them to be dashed again. I will just watch each game as it comes, hope that our boys put in 100%, and if we win, great. If not, at least I know we had a team out there that actually looked like they wanted to be there. Unlike that shambles at the Euros two years ago.
Of course, I would be more than happy to be proved wrong and for England to go further than the quarters. There is only two more rounds after that of course, so any progression from there would be a very big deal indeed.
But for now, I am going to sit back and enjoy what has been a very exciting and surprising World Cup, which has seen endless spectacular goals, daft VAR and a ton of penalties!
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