The World Cup is won entirely on squad numbers, right?
With just nine days to go until the 2018 World Cup in Russia kicks-off, expectation among England fans grows by the day.
Looking for any form of advantage going into the tournament, the announcement of the squad numbers for Gareth Southgate’s side is (hopefully) the first of many victories this summer.
This is the real quiz.
What makes the latest batch of England squad numbers so satisfying is the careful attention to historical conventions as well as current connections.
For example, Ashley Young, Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli have all been given the same number they wear for their clubs.
Here is the soft porn in all its glory…
So much is the power of squad numbers, that Jordan Pickford being given the No1 shirt all but confirms his role as England’s first choice goalkeeper in Russia. Spoiler alert.
Kyle Walker and Danny Rose have both been given the traditional numbers of first choice full-backs, albeit with the former being deployed as a centre-back by Southgate lately.
Numbers 5 and 6 for John Stones and Harry Maguire confirms their roles in England’s back 3, filling the hearts of traditionalists with pure joy.
Harry Kane has previously worn No10 for England but as the line-leading goal-grabber, his switch to No9 makes sense.
The honour of England’s No10 goes to Raheem Sterling – although it doesn’t fit his Man City persona, it suits his new role in Southgate’s side perfectly.
With no real left-winger in the squad, Jamie Vardy is the perfect replacement as No11, with Kieran Tripper and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s numbers of 12 and 22 complimenting Walker’s No2 splendidly.
Backup goalkeepers Jack Butland and Nick Pope have been given No13 and No23 respectively, as is tradition.
It turns out that we aren’t the only sad ones, as the numbers have been much discussed…
Here at Dream Team, we are frequently triggered by unconventional squad numbers.
Remember when these two tried to break football?
Clearly squad numbers is where England have gone wrong before past tournaments.
At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, some of the standout horrors included Emile Heskey wearing No21 and Stephen Warnock (yes, he was in the squad) wearing No13.
Gareth Barry as No14 also shows just how far we have come as a nation.
Be proud everyone.
If squad numbers are anything to go by, England will outlive the tournament’s favourites…
With the World Cup all but secured for England, the victory will be made even sweeter by the fact that we’ve avoid a bunch of rogue numbers this time.
See you in Russia.