We are England. We invented the sport. We came up with the rules. We named it soccer. We call it football. In 1966, we won the World Cup. There was a time when we were masters of the sport, when men like Alf Ramsey and Stanley Matthews were innovators and trailblazers.
We established formations, tactics and built glorious stadiums. Most are still standing.
But we had made a fatal error: The game was too simple to play. Too easy to fall in love with. Too good. And so it became the “world’s game”. And the chance of us winning a World Cup again slipped further away.
Our England team lined up for this World Cup year is bursting with young, fast talent and ambitious, expressive young men. So maybe this World Cup we will get it together and win the whole thing?
Want to know why not? How many reasons do you need? I’ll give you 15:
Spain. Argentina. Germany. Belgium. Holland. Italy. Portugal. Brazil. France. We can’t defend. We underperform. We can’t take penalties. We won’t do well in weather that isn’t English. We don’t have the experience. We aren’t consistent.
All those teams are better than us in most areas. Some have mega stars. Some have fantastic team ethics. We appear to be able to score. But we cannot defend. We are Liverpool in the same colored shirt. If we reach a penalty shoot-out we will fold like a soufflé in a sauna. Football is a winter game in England. 95-degree weather will wilt us by 65 minutes. Aside from Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, most of our team is young and has never seen a World Cup except on TV. Italy, in our group, won it in 2006. This matters. They have also won four world cups. THIS matters. We will play like roaring rabid lions in one game only to roll over like pussy cats in the next.
My advice for England fans is to treat our team’s World Cup chances the same way we would treat a trip to an amusement park. It’ll be exciting, sometimes it will feel like a waste of time, you will be left with the nagging feeling that it all could have been so much better with a little planning, and you may vomit.
You may vomit.