The poor lads who missed penalties for England last night have been subjected to all sorts of wholly undeserved abuse. I wonder how many of those handing out the abuse have ever taken a penalty. It is not that easy. And to do so in front of 60,000 spectators knowing it really matters must bring unbelievable pressure. Those who did not score must be feeling terrible and – as human beings – should have our sympathy, not be attacked.
The saddest abuse comes from folks such as Tory MP Natalie Elphicke and conservative commentator Darren Grimes who linked the failure of young Marcus Rashford to score with his free school meals campaign. I happen to think that the campaign was misguided and that Rashford’s personal tax minimisation strategies do not sit well with demands that the state spend more. But he is entitled to a view and the idea that his campaigning work somehow meant he practised less on the soccer pitch is ludicrous. He is a professional in every respect.
Do Grimes and Elphicke really not have an ounce of compassion for a lad who will feel wretched today and should have the nation sticking its collective arm around him? Or perhaps Grimes and Elphicke want us all to think that the Tories really are mean-spirited heartless bastards. Let’s have Rashford running the Education department instead of Gavin Williamson and Darren Grimes taking penalties for England. One outcome would be unchanged but Rashford could not possibly be more inept than Williamson.