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The Russians should have asked Mitch Rose about penalties when they had the chance

9 July 2018

Open Diary writes: So, mid-summer and the preparation for the new season is already under way. Town tried out the new second kit on a Saturday afternoon match of two halves against Clee Town and went down 4-3. What this says about the upcoming campaign is anyone's guess, although Mitch Rose could show the Russians a thing or two about taking penalties and JJ Hooper looked like a decent goalscorer again. The defence is a bit more uncertain but it's all about settling in the new boys and building understanding.

Meanwhile the old season still continues and England have at least two matches to come in their World Cup campaign. Tuesday's slightly nervy penalty shoot-out win against Colombia was followed by a more or less routine win against a Swedish team which would have been decent contenders in the top half of the Championship. Somehow both of these teams managed to win their groups in the group stage but, as the saying goes, you can only beat the sides that face you.

Croatia on Wednesday ought to be a tougher test, if only because players like Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic possess real ability and know this is probably their last chance for a major trophy. They will be far more up for it than either of our previous opponents. Still, England have already gone further at the World Cup than most people expected.

When it all began two weeks ago the most optimistic assessments were that England would do no more than get to the quarter-finals. But here we are, only one game away from the final against France or Belgium. Somehow, I think France will edge it on Tuesday night, and then it will be all down to what England can do on Wednesday.

If it all goes well, then no doubt there will more TV round-ups of the "celebrations" around the country. What's with all this beer throwing that seems to happen nowadays, along with jumping up and down on ambulance response cars and taxis? Since when has this been the way to celebrate a goal or a win at a football match?

Evidently it also happens in pubs and bars. England score and people who have paid ludicrous prices for a pint upend it over themselves and everyone else in the immediate vicinity. In the Twittersphere this is excused and justified as "having a good time", all the while ignoring the fact that this sense of a good time might not be shared by those around them.

You can tell that I don't get it. It's all part of the false sense of participation brought on by face painting flags, and the opportunity to buy the latest national teamstrip. Nike have even sold out of the England training top since the Colombia game so it's a massive commercial bunfight.

Anyway, things will be back to normal in a week's time and we can look forward to more signings and pre-season matches before it all kicks off for real on 4 August. That's 26 days to go, then, until reality returns.