Monday, 4 June 2012

Reasons to be Fearful

As English football fans, we (this weekend I suppose that's some form of Royal 'We') seem to be stuck in some form of sadistic biennial cycle, which we can observe and discuss but ultimately do absolutely nothing about. Every other autumn, we forget the summer that's just passed, and start again with fresh belief. New players, often a new manager, new qualification campaign, new hope that this time things will be different. Generally speaking we qualify convincingly (Steve McLaren aside) and often pick up narrow victories in thoroughly irrelevant friendly matches.

Consequently, we normally have reason to be relatively optimistic about our chances heading into major tournaments. Despite history not being in our favour, we do have one of the strongest domestic leagues and genuinely world-class players (and theoretically managers).

It's all very promising until we actually play, at which point a mixture of ill-discipline, goalkeeping blunders, refereeing errors, penalties and just poor performance combine to ensure the return of that sickening anticlimactic dismay and disappointment with which we're all so familiar. And thus the cycle is completed again, with cries of "the same old story", "there we go again" and "I knew it" echoing out in pubs and lounges across the country.

And yet, 2 years later, against our better judgement and logical reasoning, we believe again that this could be our year, and maybe football will come home after all. Then the tournament goes down we all knew it would and the players have an extra week or two of summer holidays. The same old story.

Well this year, leading up to Euro 2012, it's different. Maybe I'm faithless but I can't see any reasons to be cheerful. More like a few reasons to be fearful.

The main one is our squad. When announced it made most of the country grimace and want to close the web page or turn off your phone. It was like when you're watching a match and it becomes increasingly obvious the team you're supporting is going to lose, all you want to do is leave the stadium or turn the TV off and forget about it.

The originally named squad was bad enough, complete with the inexplicable omission of Micah Richards and Aaron Lennon, alongside the equally inexplicable inclusion of Stuart "I bring absolutely nothing to the team" Downing and Andy "I played a bit better in May so that's good enough to start for England." CarrollBut now that the physio's room is like a scene from Saving Private Ryan, we're calling on pretty much anyone who can even count the Lions on our shirts. In all honesty I'm nearly ready to check I've got my passport handy in case the barrel-scraping gets out of hand.

Welbeck demonstrates to Carroll
the general idea behind being a striker
Make no mistake, wins over Norway and Belgium are not sufficient to convince us that maybe there is a shred of hope after all. All this talk of being the new Greece '04 and taking the title with tactical defensive displays is absurd. Yes, we did contain the opposition well and keep two clean sheets, but we weren't exactly playing Spain or Germany were we? If we can do the same against France next Monday, maybe then we can discuss it. I am glad that endless cycle of hope and despair is broken, even if it is by having zero hope and zero expectation. So much so that even that well-known nation of "soccer" analysts, the USA, has picked up on our dismal chances this summer.

I'm a fan of Hodgson, I think he's an astute guy and should ensure we don't embarrass ourselves, but I doubt he's ever going to have the nation on its feet in elation. That said, I don't subscribe to the view that we only want to win if we win well. Look at Spain's results from the World Cup:
Spain 0-1 Switzerland (Groups)
Spain 2-0 Honduras (Groups)
Spain 2-1 Chile (Groups)
Spain 1-0 Portugal (Last 16)
Spain 1-0 Paraguay (QF)
Spain 1-0 Germany (SF)
Spain 1-0 Holland (Final - AET)

If we come away with a semi-final appearance, and only a few goals scored, it'll be our most successful performance since '96 and no-one should complain at that (we will though)


  1. Piss off you miserable plank.

  2. Bizarre that the author of this blog would, only two days ago, include a link to his site, when a) what's here is weeks out of date, and b) the only contribution is one criticising said author in no uncertain terms.

  3. Bizarre that the reader, who so evidently couldn't stand to read this thoroughly inaccurate garbage, would take the time to comment on what was written weeks ago and have nothing of relevance to add himself