If major tournaments have typically proven uncomfortable times for those responsible for the England team, there may be even greater cause for the Football Association’s top brass to squirm during Euro 2016.
As he prepares for tomorrow’s Group B opener against Russia in Marseille, coach Roy Hodgson knows his job prospects beyond this tournament rest on the results he can coax from 23 players over the next four weeks.
Yet the discomfort may be even more acute for his FA paymasters, who are faced with such a dearth of would-be successors to Hodgson that they might be forced to treat him more leniently than they otherwise would.
Why Roy's future is in doubt
Hodgson’s current contract expires next month and he will be expected to prove that the 2014 World Cup group stage exit was merely an unfortunate aberration if he is to hope of justifying a new deal.
For some, he would perhaps need to surpass the quarter-final exit at Euro 2012 to merit leading England to the next major tournament, given his age and relatively long spell in charge already.
The former Liverpool, Fulham, West Brom, Inter Milan and Switzerland boss turns 69 in August and, with 52 internationals under his belt, is already the sixth longest-serving Three Lions manager of all time.
England's dearth of potential successors
The problem is that the big beasts who might otherwise be lined up to succeed Hodgson are unobtainable, while the homegrown options appear to be either too callow, too risky or dismally uninspiring.
In recent years the FA has oscillated between appointing highly-paid, usually foreign, big-name coaches and, when that failed, handing the reins back to an English Proper Football Man.
It’s a pattern also adopted by the country’s cricket chiefs, in the lineage of Peter Moores-Andy Flower-Peter Moores-Trevor Bayliss, and rugby union too: see Martin Johnson-Stuart Lancaster-Eddie Jones.
Big beasts all tied down, domestic options flawed
Ordinarily the FA might be expected to sound out Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp or Mauricio Pochettino, but the game’s most popular coaches are all tied to new deals.
Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has been groomed as a Hodgson successor but, in light of a painful first managerial stint at Valencia, would arrive in the hot-seat already under fierce pressure.
Alan Pardew, the second highest-placed English coach in the Premier League last term, leading Crystal Palace to 15th and the FA Cup final, is among the most feted of a motley bunch of other homegrown hopefuls.
The charismatic Pardew finished a heady fifth with Newcastle in 2012, yet his credentials are dented by his teams’ tendency for long slumps and his own propensity for touchline spats with rival managers and players.
Sunderland’s Sam Allardyce and West Brom’s Tony Pulis are respected for repeatedly salvaging doomed sides but their stodgy tactical outlooks do not sit well with England’s ambitions to be thrusting world leaders.
Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe has shown promise yet, at 38 and with just one top-flight season behind him, is surely too young. Former City trader Mark Warburton at Rangers is another too early in his ascendancy.
Previous England coach Glenn Hoddle was considered by the FA before they appointed Hodgson in 2012. His absence from management since 2006 may count against him but media work has shown he remains an astute judge.
Gareth Southgate might be the dark horse, having led England’s Under-21s to glory in the Toulon Tournament last month and being something of a company man, long groomed for a more senior position within the FA.
He is already favourite to succeed Hodgson with some bookmakers, though 5/1 look short odds for a man clinging to his current role a year ago and who is synonymous with one of the senior team’s most dispiriting moments, his penalty miss in the Euro 96 semi-final shoot-out defeat to Germany.
Neville, Hoddle and Southgate: the best of a mixed bunch and unlikely to enthral supporters, which must leave the FA anxiously pondering exactly what sort of tournament would render Hodgson’s position untenable.