Gareth Southgate is fighting a nonstop battle with English delusion | England

Welcome to the reckoning up. Global sport has spent much of the last two years in a state of jet lag, frazzled by bubbles and firebreaks, by dates that aren’t really dates, events that seem to be taking place in the wrong timeline. Well, here comes the centrepiece: Qatar 2022, the one non-negotiable, the fixed point around which this state of flux has revolved.

Check the watch in your pocket, still set to Standard Tournament Time, and it’s actually April right now. The World Cup is – cabin crew, seats for landing – less than two months away. And the lead-in kicks off this week with…

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