Only delusion gives us a puncher’s odds in Euros

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THIS nation has for many centuries been a creative hothouse blessed with god-like imagination in most spheres of life.

Through the originality of the great house builders of the 18th century, the hard-bitten genius of Victorian industrialists, The Beatles, Hogarth, Paul Gascoigne and Charles Darwin we have created some of the most memorable events in human history.

And it appears our imaginative powers are as strong as ever.

How so? In our view of Euro 2012.

The build-up, so the theory goes, has been low-key, hampered by losing a manager and key players, our natural enthusiasm as the original football nation tempered by decades of failure and disappointment.

This time, for once, we don’t expect to win it.

Oh no, this time we’re humble underdogs blessed only with the organisation of a meticulous manager and the bulldgog spirit of old.

But wait, here comes the twist that marks a nation of irrational dreamers.

Despite all our setbacks and shortcomings, against all odds and logic there is across the land an increasing belief that, as tryers scrapping against injuries, bizarre selections and a lack of genuine ability, we are somehow going to make an impact on the tournament.

“Because no-one expects us to do well, we might just surprise a few people,” goes the looking-glass argument.

So let’s get this right.

We haven’t done well in previous tournaments even though we had good players who the nation expected to win or average players who the nation expected to win.

They didn’t. And in South Africa only two years ago, we were disorganised, dispirited and dreadful.

But this time, somehow, we’re so bad we might just win it?

Only we could come up with such levels of delusion.

The creativity of the great engineers, artists, statesmen, poets and law-makers of this island lives on - if only in the inverted arrogance that finds new ways to set ourselves up for painful failure.

Failure pre-ordained by politically jaundiced decisions like the inexplicable choice of the inexperienced Martin Kelly instead of former captain Rio Ferdinand as cover at centre-half.

We may be a historically brilliant nation but our football team is not.

The best we can hope for if the last two games is anything to go by is a couple of 1-0 wins playing defensively and ‘hitting’ on the break.

Like a League One team facing Premier league opposition in a cup tie, we have a puncher’s chance, no more.

If we get out of the group it will be a revelation, any better than that and her majesty will have to stop all her jubilee-ing and the red-tops get their ‘Awise Sir Woy’ headlines ready.

And if we actually win it you can add Sir Roy Hodgson’s name to the list of great Englishmen above.

So get the beers in and wave your left-over jubilee flags but prepare for failure.

Like the under-dressed and heroic members of the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir on Sunday singing Rule Britannia as the rain whipped into their faces on their Jubilee barge we will have our moments of national pride.

But failure, glorious or otherwise, will be ours and we will have to look, yet again, to another generation to come up with a football version of the flair, power and genius of the English greats of the past.