Captain's blog: England still not good enough to win Euro 2012
So Euro 2012 has kicked off and England have got off to a reasonably good start earning a 1-1 draw against France. The Three Lions entered the competition with not even the biggest optimist predicting anything but disappointment. Sadly that has now changed.
The trouble with football is it has a large following of deluded idiots, who are looking for any weak arguments or superstitions to believe. Tottenham fans will often say that when they year ends in a one, their team is destined to win something and don’t get me started on Liverpool supporters, who despite not collecting the league trophy for over 20 years, seem to start every season with a minority of fans backing a title winning campaign. Next year might be different though, you’d suspect.
And it was different for England heading into Euro 2012, nobody was backing the Three Lions. However, it only takes a 1-1 draw against France for all that to change.
Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp was first to back England for glory. In the Sun newspaper he said that England had the best defence at the tournament and that gives them an outside chance of winning it.
“What would be ideal? England to win it and, if the draw lets us, by beating Germany in the final,” he said.
Now I respect Redknapp as a manager, but anyone thinking England can get beyond the quarter-finals based on the defensive performance against France is on fantasy island.
Yes we may have the best defence in the tournament. I’d agree that Joe Hart is the number one keeper at the competition and that John Terry, Ashley Cole and Joleon Lescott are superb defenders, but defenders don’t win you matches they just stop you losing them.
Another argument I have heard is that Chelsea’s win in the European Champions League this season proves that if you are well organised and get men behind the ball you can win things.
However, I would argue that it is a model you don’t want to copy. Barcelona, in their semi-final against Chelsea, missed a penalty, hit the post and squandered countless other chances. Chelsea’s Champions League triumph had just as much to do their oppositions’ profligacy, than the Blues ability to defend well. If England sit deep and invite pressure from sides like Germany, Spain and Italy, they will have to get lucky as well.
Chelsea also posed a more attacking threat. Didier Drogba is a player that can get you a goal from nowhere, without Wayne Rooney England are missing that. Danny Welbeck played well against France, but he had little support. England had one shot on the French goal and that came from a free-kick. It’s hardly a sign of a team that is going to take this tournament by storm.
I also watched Mark Lawrenson on the BBC say that because nobody expects England to do well, it could work to the players’ advantage. So because England are rubbish, they stand a better chance of winning the tournament than in 2002 and 2006, when they had better players?
Despite the fact that is utter rubbish, Lawrenson defeats he own argument, because if he expects England to do well because nobody expects them to do well, why is he expecting them to do well? This kind of optimism defies belief.
I even saw one fan backing England for glory on Twitter by saying that the performance against France was an improvement on what he saw at the World Cup in South Africa. Admittedly it was an improvement but, compared to 2010, it would have been an improvement if I had drawn a smiley face on the contents of my large intestine and sent that out to face the French. Search long and hard, but you can't find a sensible argument to suggest England are good enough to be European Champions.