Excessive over-expectation on England is a staple of any good World Cup.
The Women’s World Cup currently taking place in France is not unique in that, but former Wexford Youths player Ruth Fahy says that this time the hype is different because this time England have a very real chance of winning.
The Lionesses, under the management of Phil Neville, began the competition with a 2-1 victory over Scotland that Fahy described as “underwhelming” but on Tuesday’s OTB AM Fahy pointed to the first half performance as a sign that things could still come good.
“In the first half they were outstanding”, Fahy noted.
After that first half against Scotland, Fahy said it looked like England could “live up to all the hype that had been built up around them” and that their star players were ready to take the World Cup by storm.
“Nikita Paris, she is a top player in the Women's Super League, she just looked on fire in the opening 45 and then I'm not sure what happened. England just fell apart slightly and Scotland came back into the game in the second half.”
While England closed out the game 2-1 amidst a few late Scottish scares, Fahy said that the post-match reaction to the match drew parallels to the World Cup media coverage that plagues the English men’s team.
“A lot of the media afterward was really negative around England which sounded very familiar after they had been built up so much and had not performed over the 90 minutes.”
However, rather than the Scotland performance being a warning sign, Fahy posited that it may have been England’s “biggest hurdle” due to the two sides' experience and history of each other. Now, Fahy said, England have the quality to push on and even exceed Phil Neville’s expectations of being in the “latter stages” of the tournament.
“They could go on and get to the final. Again, they have improvements to make but that's tournament football, it's not going to go your way straight away.
“They are right up there with the top in the world and that's not an exaggeration or over media hype. They have got some of the best players in the world, and possibly one of best with Lucy Bronze at right full.
“I mentioned Nikita Paris, Fran Kirby, Georgia Stanway, Ellen White… they are peppered with world stars.
“For once I don’t think there is much delusion. I think they have a really experienced squad at this stage. They got to the semi-finals four years ago they were really narrowly beaten by Japan with an own goal in the dying moments.”