Sunday 13 September 2009

We're on our way!

After England's stunning 5 - 1 destruction of Croatia this week we're now clearly going to win the World Cup in South Africa next year! You can just see and feel the hype steadily growing already, following England's impressive qualification campaign.

Despite this I refuse to be fooled by England ever again, or believe any of the usual hype. In saying that, there's a part of me that thinks this England side is a very different proposition under Fabio Capello's management.

I've had this discussion with friends and a few people I work with, and I've basically said that after over 20 years of of constant disappointment, frustration, and underachievement from England I'm not going to be disappointed again.

There comes a stage where there's only so much you can take. For me I'm at that point where my attitude towards England is one of where I'm almost sitting back with my arms folded saying 'Go on then, impress me, surprise me. Do something that shows me why I shouldn't be so cynical!

I'm not interested in supporting England blindly. It's great we're going to the World Cup, but that's the absolute minimum that should be expected!

In the last few years I've decided to adopt a slightly more French attitude to football. What I mean by this is that the French aren't as passionate about football or their national team as we are in England. But they'll get behind the national team when it looks like they might win something!

That's how I now feel. Don't talk to me about England winning anything unless we're in a Semi-final or Final of a major tournament. If not, I'm not interested in listening to all the hype that goes with following England.

I've lost count of the amount of times we've gone into major tournaments thinking that we had a realistic chance of winning, yet going out in our usual glorious failure of penalty shoot-outs after having played a significant part of the game reduced to 10 men.

The thing is if you take away 1966, and Italia 90, we have no history or tradition of seriously looking like we could win a World Cup! Yet based on our mediocre record we still keep expecting to win it.

Despite my refusal to get carried away with our results so far, there's a part of me that's been quite impressed by England's performances under Fabio Capello.

His record is second to none, and when he took over I thought to myself: 'if he can't do anything with England, then nobody can!' There's just a no frills, no nonsense approach to him that I really like.

With the players he picks, it doesn't matter who they are or what reputations they have, he picks players based purely on form and what they can offer the team.

There's also less of the celebrity nonsense that surrounded England previously, particularly during the World Cup in 2006 and the rubbish surrounding the 'Wags'!

If I was looking at England as a neutral, I'd see them as being a solid, functional and difficult team to beat with a little bit of flair, who were in with a shout of winning the World Cup.

But this is what I hate so much about being an England fan. There's this little part of me that thinks we're in with a real chance!

I look at Brazil and Spain as being the favourites, but there's nobody exceptional after that. I look at the tournament being played in South Africa's winter time which will suit us. And then the fact that so many major footballing powers are struggling to qualify, ie Argentina, Portugal, and France, and you can't help but feel that England are in with a serious shout!

I can't ignore this, but every time I think about it I have to remind myself that I can't be fooled, I won't be fooled again!

It's going to be like this until next summer and until at least a potential quarter final match against whoever! Once we get to that point and hopefully past it, I will gladly put away all my cynicism and disappointment built up over the years and begin to truly believe that the World Cup is coming home.

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