Whilst I’m blogging about hope for England’s future we should remember how that concept was lost in the first place. For me and I suspect many other fans optimism around England disintegrated in South Africa in 2010. Going into that tournament genuine belief in the manager and players unravelled in a way not seen since the French crashed and burned in Japorea 2002 (and they at least had the memory of being World and European Champions). How could a manager so astute and a team so good for the previous 2 years not only lose but stink the entire tournament out?
The next few tournaments brought disappointment but not surprise, but Euro 2016 should have been different, it’s true few saw England as genuine contenders but a young side of in form talented players should have at least restored hope if not glory. And yet from day 1 things started to go wrong, Roy Hodgson didn’t seem to know his best team only that it had to include a declining Wayne Rooney no matter what. Then we saw Harry Kane taking corners, Dele Alli shunted out of position and the mythical sight of Jack Wilshere running around on a football pitch.
Still despite all that was going wrong Iceland should have been easy. The ensuing hapless, brainless, spineless display and deserved defeat wasn’t so much a new low as a confirmation things wouldn’t improve. Then came the inquest with Alan Shearer talking a surprising amount of sense on the Beeb, Ian Wright narrowly avoiding the F-bomb on ITV and Danny Baker being surprisingly funny in a potty mouthed Twitter rant.
Then came Big Sam, not a bad manager by any means but what exactly was the plan here- avoid losing to Iceland by mimicking them? If only Rory Delap was English and under 40! It really did feel like year zero.
I’ll usually watch any England game but I didn’t bother with the Slovakia qualifier or indeed Gareth Southgate’s debut against Malta, enthusiasm only really returned for the Scotland game at Wembley.
England have still a long way to go (as evidenced in Paris this month, but 2 trophies, 1 lost final and semi final (both on penalties) represents more progress than could’ve been hoped for last June 27th.