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Holding Midfield: Retrospective: England 4-2 West Germany 1966

Holding Midfield Articles (BOT)
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England’s World Cup victory is undeniably English football’s high point. Their solitary win – which could easily have been more had it not been for their arrogance in ignoring earlier competitions – showed they were the world’s best at a time where other countries had proven they were competitive, rather than the default best in the Anglo-dominated early days of the game. Nevertheless, there’s a case to be made for it being the worst thing to ever happen to English football. For one, it was a success that hasn’t been matched since, putting more and more pressure on each generation of players that followed. On top of that, it vindicated ideas that were still perhaps wrong: England were the best team at the tournament and deserved their victory despite suspect refereeing displays against Argentina and in the final, but they were not great and had taken advantage of tactical innovation for perhaps the only time in their history. What could have been a jumping off point for English football became what it aspired to be – Alf Ramsey and his 1966 squad withered away, failing to qualify for the 1974 World Cup, but the 4-4-2 remains entrenched as the default [...]

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