Only one of the above?
Following England through tournaments does this to you. From “here we go!” and the golden generation to "here we go again" in, er, a generation. Absolutely no one is predicting we’ll win it or even get close. It comes to something when the Sun sends the boys off with the rallying cryDON’T EMBARRASS US
IF YOU CAN
So at long last we have a realistic view of the team’s prospects, which fits very well with sensible, realistic Gareth and his style of management, very much the thoughtful new teacher in charge of a bunch of unruly teens and gradually persuading them to stop bringing knives into the classroom.
The new England might not have the big names of previous years but they are comfortable with talking about their feelings. That’s obviously a good thing, and would be even better if those sentiments shortly include how it feels to beat Belgium. Gareth has wrapped an emotional blanket around the troubled Sterling, quite correctly understanding ‘that tattoo’. Most of us are able to simply make a mental note not to possess an automatic weapon, but Gareth sees it from the player’s point of view and that’s fine. If Sterling can stay on his feet long enough to make a mark on this tournament, he can have a bullet belt inked around his other leg for all we care.
So much rests on Sterling, and obviously Kane. The BBC have included Harry as a central figure in their Soviet-style opening credits for the competition. That immediately makes me very uneasy. Last time, I think it was Gerrard, which was harder and harder to take during the many weeks of viewing after we left the party. But there’s that ingrained England pessimism at work again. One day, surely, on the monkeys with typewriters principle, we will manage not to stink out a World Cup and actually cheer up a nation rather than plunging it into yet more post millennial gloom. This time? More than any other time, this time?