An optimistic look at England’s chances at the Euros


It’s that biennial time of the football calendar for fans across the land to once again put their club allegiances aside, come together as one and rejoice in expecting as little as possible of England’s chances of glory at a major tournament. It’s widely agreed that an Englishman loves a good moan. When you combine that with 46 years of hurt since our last triumph, the outcome is that of collective cynicism. That’s not to say this has always been the case. The positive approach has been tried and tested, failing miserably into delusion.

Years and years of high expectations and broken promises; golden eras and golden balls; penalty shootouts and goals that never were have cast a shadow of doubt over our beloved Three Lions. A brief period of optimism swept the nation as an influx of talent throughout the naughties induced belief into the English soul. However it was not to be, as luck would have it that a mixture of unwelcomed interferences and chronic misfortune would prevent us from reaching the promise land. The decade will forever be remembered for broken metatarsals, WAGs, foreign managers and, most painful of all, quarter finals. As the talent has pattered out, we are left with a modest, albeit still potentially dangerous squad. As usual we have a number of difficulties to overcome: Wayne Rooney is suspended for two games, John Terry has a court case hanging over his head, Jack Wilshere, Kyle Walker and Gareth Barry are missing out through injuries, and further question marks hang over Glen Johnson and Scott Parker’s fitness.

Yet, to quote comedy legends David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, we (must) still believe! A brief look at the squads of the favourites of the competition – Spain, Germany and Holland – and a glimpse of hope emerges for our hapless heroes. Both the Germans and the Dutch are looking decidedly weak in defence, while Spain are without leader Carlos Puyol and star danger man David Villa. Elsewhere, the Italians are not the force they once were and are without talisman Guiseppe Rossi, the Portuguese stumbled through a particular turbulent qualifying campaign and are still yet to provide enough talent in their side to compliment Cristiano Ronaldo, and the French, for all the talent they posses on the wings, lack any top class players to place at the core of their team.

For the first time in years England have a game plan. Roy Hodgson will instil organization and purpose into the team and make it very difficult to break us down. Joe Hart is arguably the best keeper in Europe and it’s safe to say we will be free from similar goalkeeping catastrophes which have burdened us in the past. Our best back four is possibly the best in the competition, three of which picked up Champions League winner medals this year, including the awesome Ashley Cole. The midfield central three of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Scott Parker will be the intrinsic core of our play, with the experience and passing range of Gerrard and Lampard to keep us ticking from start to finish, and the industry and determination of Parker acting as the glue sticking everything together. The attack is where we will struggle, but if we can slip through the group stage then a rejuvenated Wayne Rooney with a point to prove may well do the business.

Momentum and team spirit play a large part in football. In previous years England have shown a pitiful lack thereof, but with three key players – Cole, Terry and Lampard – assuredly in high spirits in light of their Champions League triumph, this could provide the stepping stone in taking England to the next level. The free-flowing and attacking football of the Spanish, Germans and Dutch we are sure not to see from Hodgson’s men, but after a season full of twists, turns and bizarre results, this could well be the year football finally comes home.

Aaron Rossi

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