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It's Coming Home

It's dragging on a bit, this takeover, isn’t it? I wish they’d get on with it, I need the space in my fridge, it’s a pain in the arse balancing my lunch boxes on the champagne. It already feels like a new, brighter era; while there’s unfortunately still no red wine in the Rocky, I can highly recommend the MPA. Anyway, while we’re all waiting for the good news to be confirmed, let’s talk about the fact that It’s Coming Home.

I was super confident going into England’s quarter-final v Spain. They’d broken records in the group stage: 3 wins, 3 clean sheets, 14 goals. After the 8-0 demolition of Norway, Ada Hegerberg might have regretted coming out of international retirement. There was no stopping England. Spain had no chance. Or so I thought.

Spain were one of the favourites at the start of the tournament, and it became clear pretty quickly why. Turns out England aren’t quite so formidable if they can’t get the ball off the opposition. Spain was superb at keeping possession, and when they brought on Athenea del Castillo at half-time, she tore England apart down the right, and it was no surprise when she set up Gonzalez’s goal in the 54th minute. Going into the last 10 minutes, with the Lionesses still 1-0 down, I was as bewildered as I was despondent. This wasn’t how the story was supposed to end. I was so convinced they were going to win the tournament. They weren’t supposed to be strangled out of the game and get knocked out in the quarter finals. Not this time.

It was no surprise that Wiegman made a double substitution four minutes after Spain’s goal, and I fully expected Alessia Russo to come on for Ellen White, but Beth Mead coming off for Chloe Kelly was an eyebrow-raiser. Bringing off the tournament’s top scorer, arguably your best player in the group games, when you’re 1-0 down and need a goal? Really? As Michael Cox pointed out on The Athletic, though, England needed their wide players to carry the ball up the pitch, which is more Lauren Hemp’s game than Beth Mead’s. Ella Toone coming on for Fran Kirby was clearly a masterstroke, as Russo set her up for the equaliser in the 84th minute, and Spain quite frankly lost their shit and cried like babies. One of their subs got booked for dissent. There was only one way the momentum was going in extra time.

There’s no I in ‘team’, but there are five in ‘individual brilliance’. If our new owners were at Boundary Park on Wednesday night thrashing out the wording of the announcement, they may well have heard me shriek “OH WHAT A GOAL!” when Georgia Stanway hit an absolute thunderbastard into the top corner from 25 yards out 6 minutes into extra time. Wiegman is a tactical genius, but it certainly helps if one of your players takes it upon herself to do that. It deserved to be the match winner. It was beautiful.

So, England are playing in the semi final of the Euros on Tuesday, and Suzanne Geldard reports that the takeover of the club is expected to be completed, on schedule, next week. Imagine if they unveil the new owners on Tuesday and then the Lionesses win to go through to the final. Imagine getting our Oldham back and football coming home in the same week. Forgive me if I’m being giddy and getting ahead of myself. I haven’t had a dream in a long time. Here’s hoping that, next week, for once in our lives, we get what we want. Lord knows it would be the first time.

Written by Arlene Finnigan

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