Football can be a cruel mistress. Just as she builds up your hopes, as expectations grow and hope appears on the horizon; she kicks you square in the testicles. Those of us who love the beautiful game have all experienced the crushing low a defeat can bring – regardless of just how inevitable it may be. It’s that hope that kills you; that unwavering notion that this time is going to be different.
Some will take to their keyboards filled with bitterness and attempt to dissect England’s performance with vitriol and ill-concieved calls for resignations. Abuse will be throw and the word ‘shit’ will be overused. Pundits will wallow in pity and cast envious eyes over the nations with admirable technicians and the ability to retain the ball. Battling spirit as a concept will be replaced by accusations of ineptitude and bottling.
Me? Well, I think the team did as well as they could. As a footballing nation, we simply aren’t at the standard of Germany or Spain – we haven’t been for some time, if ever. Roy Hodgson attempted to galvanise a team lacking standout performers into a tough-to-beat opponent, and he did that very well. Some would claim these tactics to be negative, but he was left little option with the resources at his disposal.
When it comes down to the harshness of reality; did anyone truly expect England to sweep aside all comers and roar to glory? No. It’s difficult to glean many positives from a match in which we were comprehensively outplayed and deservedly lost, but I find it puerile to switch from hope to fury with such immediacy. England lost on penalties after reaching a quarter final against better opposition. Things panned out in a manner few can be surprised by.
The burning question is one of the future. Where do England go from here? Can we look forward to a similar scenario playing out in Brazil? – should we qualify, of course. England do have hope. The likes of Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walker, Jones and Welbeck have bright futures. Joe Hart is, and will be for the foreseeable future, an excellent goalkeeper. However, the problem requires a greater solution. The problem is more than just personnel.
England need to change the way they play. A ridged 4-4-2 formation might suit the scrappier teams of the Premiership, but it falls flat when deployed in international football. In a game where ball retention is now king, England must not only learn to keep it, but to be able to use it clinically. Unfortunately, this is not something that can be changed miraculously overnight. Such an upheaval will take time. Jack Wilshere is a technically excellent footballer. England need one or two more like him than they do anymore ‘Scotty’ Parkers.
To summerise, as I’m writing mainly off the top of my head, I can’t be devastated by my national team’s exit, as it was as predicatble as the day is long. I dared to dream briefly, I allowed hope to sweep over me and I felt things might just be different this time. They weren’t, and I’ve a kick to the testicles to show for it.
However, I won’t join in slaughtering a team who certainly tried their best. For some, that best simply wasn’t good enough. Roy Hodgson took us as far as he could. With time, he might just be able to take us a bit further. In 2 months, he did as well as could be expected and for that he deserves credit.
That’s all for today folks. Apologies for the lack of Arsenal news, but there isn’t much about today. With the Euros now a closed book as far as my interest goes, I hope we can look forward to some good news on the transfer front, and a bit better fortune for the Arsenal once the season starts.
Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. The comments are below, so feel free to drop in a few of your own thoughts.