Euro 2012 – The taming of the Three Lions

June 2, 2012 11:29 am

Roy Hodgson's Euro 2012 team

With little over a week until the start of the 2012 European Championships, the nation should be gripped with football fever.

We should be placing the flags of St George strategically and carefully on our cars and bikes, our lucky red replica 1966 shirt should be being dug out again from the very back of the wardrobe. It’s a little small on us now, but we wear it anyway. We should be partaking in the office sweepstakes, pulling the little white bit of paper that reads “England” out of the hat, feeling ever so slightly and quietly optimistic.

But I don’t know, this time around just seems a little bit…different.

It appears that recently we’ve lost a litle bit of faith in our national team. Expectations are high, always have been and probably always will be. This is why we tend to consider anything less than victory to be documented as a failure. When we sit down to watch half-hearted friendly matches and watch us get bowled over by the now superior footballing nations, our heart sinks a little bit. We’re losing our passion and slowly but surely, losing our place amongst the international elite.

The 2012 European Championships, I forsee will not be like any of the others of its kind that we have experienced in recent years. The setting? Poland and Ukraine. Both extremely welcoming nations; just where you would choose to spend a summer holiday.

The main topic of conversation regarding these two nations appears to be the hostility and the mindset of the Polish and Ukranian fans towards visiting supporters. Now, for anybody who saw the recent Panorama documentary and wishes not to go, you’re possibly, by all intents and purposes, doing the right thing.

Passion for supporting England is one thing, but fearing for your life is another. Thanks, UEFA. Showing your full backing for a nation (the Ukraine) who see fit to bully and assault Asian or Black supporters who set foot in their football stadia? Following in the footsteps of Rob Green at the 2010 World Cup, you’ve really dropped the ball here, guys.

For all of those loyal individuals heading out to the championships, you deserve the plaudits and we sure as hell hope that the players show the same bravado that you do.

Onto the subject of the players…what a difficult job eh? In all seriousness, the majority of the squad, as well as new manager Roy Hodgson, have faced a hell of a lot of ridicule and criticism from both the Press, or from the supporters who sit in their armchairs at home and think that they know better.

Hey, I shouldn’t comment, I’m one of them.

The Euro 2012 will be the 14th European Championship for national teams organised by UEFA

But what’s clear as day is that the England manager job is extremely difficult. Sure, he’s paid a lot of money and he’s got some fantastic talent at his disposal, but getting the change desired out of these players is proving more difficult in recent years than we would have hoped. The reason for this? We don’t know. These guys are paid tens of, sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds a week at club level but consistently struggle to produce on a bigger stage. Maybe there’s no explanation for it, maybe it’s just an unfortunate turn of events. But what’s evidently clear to me, is that the more we fail at these championships, the more that fans, especially the younger contingent will start to turn their back on the England team. Especially when the glitz and the glamour of foreign football, the likes of the Spanish and the Dutch national teams, are being broadcast to us. Most kids in the playground will want to emulate a World Cup or a European Championships winner, as opposed to a player who had the talent but fell at the final hurdle.

I mean not to jump on the bandwagon and poke holes in the logic which represents England’s chances of success in Poland and the Ukraine. I only suggest that with every couple of years that passes without success, we will continue to lose just a little bit of that Barmy Army national pride.

P.S…come on England.

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