I'm not quite back in love with England. I hardly even lust her. I wouldn't even consider a one night stand. Perhaps a cuddle at best. If it did lead to a kiss I might lose myself momentarily and allow a tug although I expect it wouldn't get beyond a limp state. I call that a Milner. She probably wouldn't even notice that I wasn't too keen. She'd just be happy to be there and to have caught my attention. And so on.
There is nothing sexy about Hodgson's men but I quite like that mainly because there's nothing sexy about England these days. All that pomp and expectation that anchored the fabled golden generation to disappointment is gone, although as shared in a previous blog, I enjoyed the delusion that came with the ridiculous notion that this year would finally be the year we do it. Belief is such a powerful emotive. It renders reality irrelevant that all the hope and want is misguided. It fuels you as a supporter and makes the sport you love a far more rewarding experience, even if you end up losing and hurting. You feel more alive for it. Spurs fans know what I mean. England fans of old also.
I can close my eyes and still see Italia 90 like it was yesterday (don't ask me what I was literally doing yesterday though because I won't remember, in fact don't even bother asking me what I did two hours ago, thanks to MDMA and countless summers under the Ibiza sun). That game against Cameroon. There was one moment where I was such a wreck, a ball of nervous nerves nerving, that I walked outside into the garden and wondered around trying to calm myself down from having a heart-attack. Such was the intensity, the hope to keep the dream alive. I returned to glare at the tv again and pray for safe passage into the next round (with thanks to Lineker). My heart pumping and head racing through countless permutations and what ifs and how I'd handle a loss if it happened. All the games we're like that. Euro 96 also. Then it slowly started to degrade, for me any way, with each passing tournament.
I'm still waiting for that moment in the present day, that rush of blood, to have me genuinely jumping off the sofa and screaming at the telly in celebration or frustration. I did lift my hand up when Rooney scored. Worked a treat for me as on the way back it picked up a drink that sat waiting on the coffee table. Good timing. I was thirsty.
That's not to say there weren't any moment of joy. There were moments of actual joy to behold. John Terry. What a moment that was. For a minute I thought he'd score when that cross pinged across the six yard box but it zinged past him. Wouldn't want that now would we. Still, I made a pre-tournament promise that I would not be counting any goals scored by him. Yes, that's right, I don't count goals scored by people of his colour. The colour of hypocrisy. It's an ugly colour.
What about his clearance? I guess we need to be thankful to that bloke that stands by the side of the goal staring into space day dreaming about that other bloke whose job it is to scan the stadium for fit looking female supporters via tv camera. Now that's a job of importance and more importantly, fun. Shame he didn't take a second to perhaps zoom in on the sleepy official with the mundane job, missing the fact the ball actually crossed the line. We all like to laugh at someone having a snooze during the football. But hey, whatever, who cares. Justice for Lampard and all that.
Ukraine did okay. Had a fair few chances, but failed to take them. We had a couple also. A Rooney sitter, Cole with a decent effort. Okay so it wasn't exciting, we're not exciting. Hodgson has the team well drilled (he's got that particular thing trademarked) and organised, even though you suspect a far stronger opponent would not struggle much against our backline with perhaps a clever ball or burst of pace. Just how far stronger other teams are currently is up for some debate. France hardly looked bothered in their game against Sweden, Blanc drawing a blank, distracted no doubt from being linked to the Spurs job. We have that effect on managers.
England work hard off the ball, but we're hardly majestic on it. Aside from Scott Parker who just has to run around to look like something from a 1950's action comic book. But as a collective, we're just very average. We ride our luck a fair bit but as witnessed at club level, this can sometimes be enough for a team to go all the way to the final. The plucky can be crowned kings. It's happened famously at international level also. I doubt very much the England players would turn down the chance for some Greek. The reality is, we'll probably get spanked instead.
Gerrard (to be fair to him) has done quite well, particularity with his deliveries. One of the old guard proving a point. Hart has been kept busy between the sticks and remains quite sharp when called upon to react. Another major positive is the tabloids will have to write positive things about the team through gritted teeth, still probably seething from the irony of being accountable for losing Redknapp the England job and then in turn being responsible for the said catalyst that saw Redknapp also lose his job at club level too. Keep it up Roy. They're hating this.
We're in the quarters so I guess I should stick a smile on it. The glory hunter within me is primed and ready to burst out in a fit of hypocritical giddiness. Sunday against Italy and the prospect of a semi-final against the Germans (maybe) if we win. I might actually sit up, even shift my backside onto the edge of the seat.