With only 6 days till one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar kicks off, like usual us England fans start to build that optimism. You know, that hope that this will be our year. How many times have we heard that? The media always over-hype the players and put so much pressure on them. It is quite frightening. But could this actually be our year?
The bookies have placed us as the third favourite behind current European Champions Spain and the illustrious five times winners Brazil. The man who is under the scrutiny of a nation is Italian Fabio Capello, a manager who has won trophies everywhere he has gone, who was even ridiculously sacked by Real Madrid for not winning the league in enough ‘style’. I’m sure we won’t be complaining if we pinch 1-0 victories if it leads us to a trophy we haven’t won since the one and only time 1966, and bar 1990, haven’t really looked as if we could.
Sven-Göran Eriksson coached us in our previous two finals leading us to two quarter finals in which we were defeated by the 2002 victors Brazil and the Portuguese under the aid of the player every loves to hate apart from Manchester United fans, Cristiano Ronaldo. The criticism Sven received I always perceived as unfair. The coach to defeat him in both the World Cup and the 2004 European Championships quarter finals? Luis Felipe Scolari who by no means is a poor coach. OK the manager might not of had the backing of the players, he might have been soft and was probably to reliant on Beckham even in poor form, but interestingly he is rated by the FA as officially the second most successful coach since Sir Alf Ramsey.
When he finally resigned after numerous scandals, including the fake Sheik, the public went shouting for an English manager. Let’s get somebody in who knows our culture, who has had relative success and will obviously win us a trophy. That man was Steve McClaren and to say he disappointed is an understatement, we failed to qualify for Euro 2008, the first time since World Cup 1994 that England have failed to reach a major finals.
So in steps Mr Capello, a man who commands respect. A man who has banned the WAGs from interfering and distracting the players. A man who has laid down the rules and makes sure his players are dressed in suits. A man who made his authority known when he stripped John Terry of his captain armband after his affair with Wayne Bridge’s ex girlfriend.
Looking at our squad however, it’s hard to see us doing well. We haven’t got a recognised goalkeeper. David James has been injured and is the goalkeeper for the team who finished last in the league, Rob Green who has been the number one has played below par for a team who just stayed in the Premier League by the skin of their teeth. Ben Foster can’t even make the subs bench at his club, then we have the revelation of Joe Hart who has been tremendous this season, but with only one England cap to his name, is too inexperienced to be the keeper.
Then there is the problem with strikers. Emile Heskey who has formed a solid footballing relationship with the invaluable Wayne Rooney is struggling for games for Aston Villa and unsurprisingly goals. The likes of Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Bobby Zamora have had good seasons but with their few chances at international level they haven’t looked suited. Peter Crouch will be in the squad but there is still the claims he only scores against small teams, although you can only beat who is in front of you, right? Defoe has been on lethal form and with a good few last appearances for England has done enough.
But with these problems, and that is not including who will play on the right, if Gerrard will play out of position on the left and if captain Rio Ferdinand will be fit and whether Terry rediscovers form, Capello must be hoping Rooney continues his stupendous season.
Come the 11th of July we will know whether Capello was really worth the hype, but what would be handy is if the media stop bringing out stories which are disrupting the players. There is something weird about this country in how we like to see people be exposed even though it’s clearly not to our gain.