Football Daily | Just when you thought it was safe to step out of the digital bunker

Just when you thought it was safe to step out of the digital bunker

‘Got to tell you, Harry. I miss Hatchet Man. He really was the column that went in hardest.’

THE ITCH IS BACK

Your super, soaraway Football Daily always looks forward to Black Friday. Unashamed dopamine fiend that we are, we’ll never tire of watching viral videos of adults (sic) brawling doggedly over an immersive multi-room speaker system they don’t need or particularly want, and which was 50 notes cheaper when they walked straight past it a week earlier. Today, that entertainment will be supplemented by Fifa’s new post-Thanksgiving celebration: Bloke Friday, in which a load of men play a load of football in front of crowds made up of a load of men.

It’s the start of the second round of group games at the Human Rights World Cup, and yes the last five days really have flown by. There are four more matches, which means six hours of entertainment, or 17 if you include added time. Iran’s dramatic win over Wales is followed by Qatar 0-2 Senegal and Netherlands 1-0 Ecuador, which, depending on results, could end with Qatar becoming the first team eliminated from their own tournament. Then it’s the biggish one. England v USA! USA!! USA!!! Tommy Shelby v Tony Soprano. Mark Corrigan v George Costanza. Barely suppressed self-loathing v barely suppressed self-loathing. England have never beaten the USMNT at a World Cup – they lost unthinkably/hilariously in 1950 and drew 1-1 in 2010, when the unfortunate Robert Green made a career-defining howler and ITV missed England’s only goal because they cut to a Hyundai advert. The good news for UK-based viewers is that Friday’s game is being shown on … wait, never mind. At least you’ll have Roy Keane.

And at least – pick this segue out – England will have Harry Kane. Despite the prattle of wounded ankle over the past few days, he has been given the all-clear. Gareth Southgate is expected to follow the established footballing wisdom that you’d have to be a bit of an ostentatious oddball to change a team that has just won 6-2. USA! USA!! USA!!! – excellent in the first half against Wales before the unwelcome revelation that their kryptonite is a big old boy from the English Riviera with a Welsh grandfather – should provide a sterner test.

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Photograph: Tom Jenkins

Another England triumph will now secure a last-16 place with a game to spare. We’ll be honest, though, we’re not on top of our game at the moment as our mind is elsewhere. Football Daily thought it was safe to relax and stop planning trips to a digital bunker in the Kerguelen Islands when England lost the Not Euro 2020 final to Italy. That was their chance, it’s gone, thanks be to Donnarumma. But the way they shredded Iran has got the It’s Coming Home itch, or the ITCH itch as we loathingly call it, going again. If England handsomely win against the kind of resourceful, athletic, dispiritingly competent team they usually draw 1-1 against at major tournaments, we’ll know things are serious. And if they lose, #SouthgateOut will be trending before ITV have had a chance to cut to the scheduled commercials. It’s not only Black Friday that makes adults (sic) behave like eejits.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It was the wrong decision … It was actually a foul against us. If somebody scores a goal, congratulations. But this was a gift. A special gift from the referee” – Ghana coach Otto Addo is not a happy chappy after Cristiano Ronaldo controversially won a penalty that kickstarted Portugal’s 3-2 HRWC victory. In converting it, Ronaldo became the first man to score at five World Cups.

Down goes Ronaldo.

FOOTBALL DAILY LETTERS

Just a quick question. While Fifa and Qatar are being quite rightly slated (the former for its corruption, the latter for its human rights record) over this HRWC, why is no one questioning the record of the countries of seven other nations (25%) who are represented? In these countries ‘homosexuality’ is also illegal. If we continue to bang the drum against Qatar (and we undoubtedly should), shouldn’t we also be highlighting human rights injustices in the countries of the teams playing?” – Merv Evans.

May I be the first of 1,057 readers to congratulate Iñaki Williams on bringing pantomime season to the HRWC? In the week that Glasgow’s Tron Theatre’s panto opened (shameless plug for old school pal, apologies), Williams ensured a thousand cries of ‘He’s behind you!’ rang out across the globe. Even better, when he came in and got the ball, Williams prompted refrains of ‘Is he going to score?’ … ‘Oh yes he is’ … ‘Oh no he’s not’ in one quick and simple slip. Surely such dedication to the panto trade is worthy of some sort of award?” – James Thomson (and no others).

Oh everyone.

I quite agree with Allastair McGillivray’s plea (yesterday’s Football Daily letters) that we don’t adopt the horrendous kick-off countdown into our domestic game. But to give credit to our Fifa comedy overlords, it did provide a proper laugh in the opening game when the ref decided to ignore it and blow the whistle before the countdown reached zero. True dedication to find something new that this HRWC has managed to foul up along with everything else” – Tim Clarke.

While most teams on their days off at tournaments seem content to just play bingo or ride inflatables in the pool, I note from Big Website that our Gallic cousins have a much bigger project in mind” – Tony Crawford.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet Football Daily – while you can, hi Elon – via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Merv Evans.