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ROLL THE DYCE

Remembering England’s 2018 World Cup campaign under Sam Allardyce

Are you ready to walk down memory lane and remember when Sam Allardyce took England to the 2018 World Cup?

It’s time to rip the plaster off.

We know you don’t want to reopen old wounds, but it’s time to walk down memory lane and remember England’s 2018 World Cup campaign.

Sam Allardyce’s England side battled through qualification and edged a play-off against Bulgaria in which Harry Kane scored the winner but picked up an injury which saw him miss the tournament.

From then on it was, in the words of England’s campaign slogan, all about ‘Rolling the Dyce’.


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The perfect angle

EPA
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The perfect angle

The squad announcement

In a revolutionary move Allardyce, known for his love of the statistical side of the game, based his 2018 World Cup squad on whoscored.com ratings.

It meant Wayne Rooney, who was England’s highest rated player, captained the side while Ben Mee, Andros Townsend, James Tomkins and Matty Lowton all earned surprise call ups.

Throughout his managerial career Allardyce had always bristled at suggestions that he was an ‘old fashioned’ manager.

He showed typical willingness to think outside the box when he picked Phil Jagielka as his third-choice goalkeeper, although the move backfired when FIFA made it clear he wouldn’t be allowed to play outfield.

Fernando Hierro, whom Allardyce managed at Bolton, was brought on board to help England’s inexperienced defence.

The new Gordon Banks

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The new Gordon Banks

Icons

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Icons

Group stages

England’s group of Tunisia, Panama and Belgium was potentially awkward on paper, especially when Wayne Rooney was dismissed 50 minutes into the opening fixture.

Having been thoroughly outplayed by Sunderland flop Wahbi Khazri, Rooney took exception to a nutmeg and saw red.

Allardyce hunkered down, converting England’s 4-4-2 formation to a 4-4-1, and bringing on John Terry to sure up the defence.

It proved inspired, with the Aston Villa defender scoring a bullet header in the last minute to secure all three points.

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Panama also proved a struggle, with Leighton Baines’ free-kick eventually breaking the deadlock in the 79th minute before Glenn Murray put the icing on the cake in injury time.

Allardyce used his press conference to hit back at those who claimed he was wrong to call up Murray despite the striker’s struggles following his move from Brighton to Chelsea in the January transfer window.

The final group game was a vintage Jekyll and Hyde performance from England.

Marcus Rashford converted Marc Albrighton’s cross after just three minutes, but Belgium hit back with three goals before half-time to swing the game in their favour.

Radja Nainggolan scored a fourth before celebrating with a lit cigarette and a beer in an apparent show of defiance towards former Belgium manager Roberto Martinez.

The smoking assassin

FRANCOIS LENOIR
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The smoking assassin

The knockout stages

With momentum building and football halfway home, England met France in the knockout round.

Allardyce came face-to-face with Steven N’Zonzi, a player he’d tried to call up previously only to find out that he was very much born in France.

We won’t go on from here, because we all know what happened, but it’s always reassuring to know that we’re in the exclusive ‘7-1 Club’ with Brazil.

We’re off to unwind with a pint of wine.