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Hope not expectation

Tis the time to dream. Every four years this recurring dream recurs. This familiar one when England become world champions. However, even being as optimistic as possible, the dream is motivated by hope as opposed to realistic expectation.

The quarter finals are by any historical measure a good performance for England and the problem is that some  people seem unable to get their heads around that. Our record since 66 isn’t great. In the last 44 years we have reached a World Cup semi a Euro semi and several World Cup quarter finals. In the same period Holland have reached two WC finals and a semi and won the European championship. Bulgaria have reached a WC semi. Sweden have got to a WC semi and a Euro semi. Poland have reached a WC semi and finished 3rd in 1974. Soviet Union reached two Euro Finals. Belgium have reached a Euro final and a WC semi. Turkey have reached a World Cup semi and a Euro semi.  And, of course, Greece were European champions. That’s only looking at the middle ranking sides from Europe. In 2008 and 2002 the Germans were considered to be poor yet still reached the final of those competitions.

So since 66* our record, when compared to other European football nations, gives new meaning to the word average. Yet people got annoyed because, for example, we’d never ‘win anything with Sven.’ Its unlikely we’ll win a competition whoever the manager is! We’d all love to but  actually expecting England to win a tournament is wishful thinking. There’s no great tradition to justify that sort of demand. In a tournament, if we get through the group we’ve fulfilled expectancy. Personally, I always look at getting through the group then take it from there. Usually as soon as we face a side with genuine aspirations to win the tournament we get knocked out.  1990  was great fun but, with all respect, Belgium and Cameroon weren’t contenders to lift the trophy.

Sven was also unpopular because he didn’t  stand on the touchline with contorted face and clenched fists and blood spurting from his ears, displaying the ‘passion’ we English crave. The Premier League is popular throughout the world because its often exciting and fast paced mixed with physical tussles. This does make for exciting blood and thunder games but doesn’t necessarily help players to develop their technique and tactical awareness. The British public love blood and thunder too.   What’s the thing always thrown at the  England set up? Passion. England lack ‘passion’. ‘Passion’ manifests itself by way of crashing tackles and sticking your bonce amongst the boots to win a header. These aren’t bad attributes but at World Cup level you need more than blood and thunder. England’s players are lacking because many have never had to consider a wider range to their game. Partly because of the nature of English football. 

I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t try to win tournaments I’m just saying that we should keep our hopes in perspective. But 44 years never stops me dreaming!!

*our record before 66 wasn’t great…Bela Horizonte anyone?

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