IT’S NOT the despair. I can stand the despair; it’s the hope, John Cleese once wailed. As, no doubt, have countless England supporters, judging by the current collective cautiousness.
Because England seems fairly unanimous. We are not being lured into the trap of getting excited about next summer’s World Cup just because Roy Hodgson’s men eked their way to Brazil with something sexier than wheezing desperation.
After all, it was only a month ago that the same team was derided as technically neanderthal and chronically unambitious following that soul-sapping goalless stalemate in Ukraine.
Recent tournaments have reinforced that anything beyond the group stage invites a whipping from more dextrous outfits or, at best, a penalty shoot-out elimination. It’s just not England’s domain.
So, thanks Roy, but we’d rather ignore what looked a lot like two exciting and convincing England wins within the space of five days and the birth of a new star in Andros Townsend.
Don’t mention that tempered expectations might just help England, if history is anything go by, given that the peaks of Italia ‘90 and Euro ’96 came directly after dreary trough of Euro ’88 and the failure to even reach the 1994 World Cup.
And whatever you do, don’t listen to Hodgson comparing the World Cup to a 32-team lottery and declaring: “We have a ticket.” Roy, you’re giving us hope again, and that’s the hardest part to stomach.
Frank Dalleres is Sports Editor of City A.M. Twitter: @frankdalleres