I for one have always been something of a pessimist when talking about England’s chances of success going into any major championship. Perhaps even my favourite Euro’s in my life time (I remember them since about 2004) may well have even been 2008 when I could settle down on a nice balmy summer’s evening and enjoying watching a game of football without having to consider the hysteria conjured up by the press of England’s chances because England wasn’t there.
I appreciate that this may well be an odd thing to admit but throughout the ‘Golden Generation’, from Sven to Capello, England were always going to win something and failed. We may have had some of best individuals in the game, but as a team they couldn’t gel, 4-4-2 wouldn’t work and players were picked for being aforementioned some of the best individuals in the game. Now though we have a different story (nearly anyway). Under Roy and the failure of the World Cup, we have an England team that is shaping up rather nicely and could really utilise this Euro’s as the next building block to a better tomorrow.
I know that final words in that sentence sounds like something from a brochure for a retirement village but this is the first time that I look at the England team with a little bit of excitement. There are no shining beacons in this England squad. They are very few that are now irreplaceable and the ones who do seem to stick around are fading faster than my very own winter blues. Roy, for all his haters who said he did rubbish in the World Cup, has re-grouped and is starting to build a team that is better for the retirements of Gerrard and Lampard. It is more about the squad, the balance, the shape and the players who aren’t playing for the ‘cool’ or ‘big sides’ and England are better for that.
I know I am in danger of raining down on my argument of press related hysteria but since the acceptance that England are probably like 5th or 6th best team in Europe then our relationship has changed with tournament football. Suddenly a Quarter-Final appearance in France has become accepted as an achievement with anything beyond that a chance to throw our entire weight behind ‘the boys’ who are doing us proud rather than nervously watching the perennial under achievers.
So it is with a little excitement that I intend on writing a little ditty about all the England games until they get knocked out in France. The excitement is heightened admittedly by the fact I am off to the Euro’s for two weeks of football and sunshine this summer but nonetheless I will be sorting out my England XI to face Germany in time for Saturday’s kick off.
We won’t win it guys and gals, so let’s just enjoy it this time.
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog