We have no chance, these words reverberated around the country at 1pm today, a sentiment that had been echoed long before the announcement of the squad. No manager until one month before the start of a major competition, our talisman and spearhead in attack suspended for two games, players sleeping with each other’s wives. Then came today, the country’s most expensive ever centre back dropped, our most exciting young prospects injured. Stewart Downing selected.
On the eve of a competition such as the European Championships, we as a country are normally falling over ourselves in the rush to express how we’re going to win, why we have the best players and the best team in the world let alone the competition, how that this year is ‘our time’ and this is our ‘golden generation’. Not today, not this year, we have no chance says the punter.
So what if, what if the pressure of being self professed favourites has been holding us down? What if the foreign management failed to communicate a winning mentality? What if THIS is ‘our time’, the ball bounces the right side of the line, our top player doesn’t kick or stamp out, we convert every single penalty?
We still believe.
What if Joe Hart, Premier League champion, is unbeatable between the sticks, like Shilton and Banks before him, commanding the troops, making save after save to keep us in it when our backs against the tide. What if Glen Johnson’s marauding runs from defence unease the opposition in Eastern Europe, John Terry proves his critics wrong, making tackles and blocks, the warrior, like Terry Butcher, blood streaming down his face but he will not give up. What if Phil Jones fits seamlessly in at centre back, inspired by the legend that is Bobby Moore impeccably timed tackles, precision of pass, impenetrable on the ground or in the air. What if Ashley Cole shows why he is the best left back in the world, silencing even the trickiest
What if Lampard and Gerrard can finally play together!? What if somehow Roy finds a way to marry two of our greatest ever midfielders in the same team? Lampard, calm and composed on the ball, a goal threat from the centre of the park like Charlton in ’66. Gerrard, dominating the pitch, a box to box midfielder, the presence of Duncan Edwards the creativity of Gascoigne or Hoddle.
What if our wingers are given license to play? Ashley Young with pin point deliveries like Beckham, but from either side, with the pace and skill of Waddle or Matthews. What if Walcott discovers the form that earned him a hat-trick in Croatia? What if we unleash the Ox?
What if Jermaine Defoe writes his name into the history books, scoring goals to rival Owen against the Argentines in ’98, Lineker in ’90 or even Hurst in ’66. What if Andy Carroll really is that ‘typical English centre forward’ we’ve been looking for since Shearer? And our Wayne will be back after 2 games!
We have no chance they say, we’ve seen it all before, 46 years of hurt.
So no scandals, no goalkeeping errors, avoid the Germans and pray for no penalties.
What if this is our ‘golden generation’? Roy’s Boys. 23 roaring Lions. Fighting on all fronts, we’ll topple the French, the Swedes, the Ukranians. We are warriors, heroes, history makers.
What if this is ‘our time’?