Glory be as we play like a team again

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THERE we go.

Wasn’t so bad was it?

No disasters, no humiliation, we scored a goal and we didn’t lose.

If only our expectations had been this low years ago

It’s taken a long time and an overdue realisation that we aren’t a good team for us to start playing like… a good team.

A team playing within its capabilities and to its strengths.

It didn’t go right for Ireland on Sunday but it went for us last night with a similar underdog approach.

In Sheffield’s twin city of Donetsk known for its coal and steel production England went back to basic industry on the field.

They defended in numbers, kept their shape - two banks of FIVE when necessary and they scrapped.

No-one played badly, Welbeck, Parker, Lescott and Cole were good, Milner should have scored and Hart might have done better with the goal but it was solid and safe.

Probably as much as England are capable of against the better teams.

And after all the hoo-hah about John Terry, did he actually play?

They reckon that if you don’t notice the referee over 90 minutes he’s had a good game.

Does the same go for centre halves? His name was only mentioned twice but he must have done alright because we were solid at the back.

Back in the studio Roy Keane’s strangely compelling contract-killer glare was replaced by Jamie Carragher and his sing-song scouse so rich and nasal that only dogs can hear him when he gets excited. And only scouse dogs at that.

Head boy Gareth Southgate kept his distance from the growing frisson between Carragher and Patrick Vieira. He’ll go far that Southgate.

And Vieira actually seems to be able to keep Adrian just-your-average-fan Chiles quiet, which is probably the best thing he’s done since he left Arsenal.

Pat and Jim had their own thing going towards the end as they chatted amongst themselves and told us more than another ear-bashing from Mr Chiles ever would.

France are a better team than England but we knew that before we went.

Compare last night’s 1-1 to the feeling we had after the opening-game 1-1 with the US two years ago at the World Cup in South Africa and contrast the performance, the attitude and the aftermath.

We are on the road to rehabilitation but we have to be cautious.

To our national football psyche a flag of St George is like a drink to an alcoholic, one’s too many and thirty million isn’t enough.

Our new restrained status did come under a bit of old Ingerland-style pressure with a hint of tattooed calf and packed pub from Jamie Carragher as the result began to sink in.

Within five minutes of the game ending, grateful acceptance of a hard-earned point had turned to disappointment that we didn’t win for the Liverpool defender.

We don’t want any of that. We don’t want hope, promise or dreams.

Getting control of our national sporting emotions has taken a long time and a huge fall from football grace.

The egos have landed and we’re playing like a team again.

If we get any worse we might even start winning. Then we’ll be in real trouble.

Does anyone think the Mariachi band singing The Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’ on the Dorito’s ads during ITV’s Euros coverage actually sounds pretty good?

Just me then.