Dubai: England have a history of suffering penalty pain in World Cups and Euros and surprise, surprise, it happened again. Only this time, it happened inside the regulation 90 minutes instead of in a shootout - not that this eases the pain.
It was another missed opportunity and coach Gareth Southgate must now do the right thing and step down. He was non-committal over his future after the defeat to France in the FIFA World Cup quarterfinal but there is growing uncertainty if he should remain in charge.
The Three Lions barely laid a glove on the reigning champions, even though they had the tools to strike a devastating blow.
But once again it looked like the tactics from Southgate were to frustrate Kylian Mbappe and co and try to nick it with a set piece. In the end the nation was nursing a familiar sense of disappointment as another major tournament triumph escaped them again.
When the full-time whistle blew at the Al Bayt Stadium, it was an all too familiar sight of sad looking players with their heads in their hands. It brought flashbacks to the 2018 World Cup semi-final defeat against Croatia in Russia and more recently the 2020 European Championship final defeat on penalties to Italy at Wembley.
England lost 2-1 to France and in truth they never looked capable of dragging the match into extra time and when Harry Kane blazed a spot kick high over the bar all hope was lost. Kane had got England level from the spot earlier to draw level with Wayne Rooney’s England scoring record of 53 goals after France took the lead from Aurelien Tchouameni only for Olivier Giroud to put them ahead and that is how it stayed.
This was a genuine chance for the team to win the tournament but the fact is they failed their first tough test. In the group they looked good but that was against Iran, USA and Wales. They did well against Senegal in the last 16 clash but France proved to be a totally different proposition.
Southgate has put together a team with a good mix of youth and experience but I just don’t feel he is able to get them to play to their full potential and even though he has a contract that runs until 2024 I believe now is the time for him to resign.
He has been at the helm for six years now and I don’t feel he can take the team on to the next level.
He was heavily criticized in the summer when England were relegated from the Nations League and although he came close to delivering the nation’s first major tournament win since 1966 at Euro 2020 he has ultimately fallen short.
A new approach is needed and I believe England should give the job to an attack-minded coach. Thomas Tuchel would be a surprise choice, given his nationality, but the German would work wonders. He has won the Champions League, worked with world class players, and has the ability to have a fast and immediate impact on teams. This would make him a very attractive contender for the role if Southgate was to depart.