This is going to be a very eventful summer. A Diamond Jubilee. The 2012 Olympics. And the Euro 2012 football championships. Which, if we are going to honest about it, is just like the World Cup but without Argentina and Brazil. The hosts this year are Poland and the Ukraine. Is it ‘the Ukraine’, or just ‘Ukraine’? It seems to sound right with ‘the’ in front of it. It seems I was right, once. But no longer.
The biggest Euro 2012 stories of the last few months have been about the late delivery of the infrastructure required to host such a tournament, and the threat of racist fans ruining it for everyone. Former English footballer Sol Campbell has told non-white fans to stay at home and watch on the telly, and the families of several black English footballers have declared they will do just that.
Mr Campbell went on to say that Polan and Ukraine shouldn’t have been given the tournament until they had sorted this problem out. He’s right. It should have been held in England, where our hooligans are equal opportunity advocates and will happily beat the living daylights out of anyone, regardless of colour.
My prediction is that the tournament will be a good one, but that the media will provide saturated coverage of any negative incident, no matter how minor. But this isn’t the important prediction. The important prediction is in naming the winner. England qualified comfortably, but have since completely self destructed. First the capitain John Terry got himself arrested and stripped of the captaincy. Again. Then the manager Fabio Capello quit in protest at that decision. Wayne Rooney got himself banned from the first two games. And we got drawn in a slightly tricky group.
This had reduced our hopes and expectations to almost zero. Which is unusual, because we are normally wildly optimistic. I’m no exception. The the FA named, belatedly, as the new England manager….Roy Hodgson. Quite possibly the most boring and unimaginative choice, with a mostly appalling record at the highest level. Universally derided and scorned by the average English footy fan, but more so by Liverpool fans. Our expections had been near zero. His appointment removed any linger half hearted hope whatsoever.
And that may be a master-stroke. England’s biggest problem at tournaments has been the huge expectations placed upon the team. The players often look like rabbits trapped in headlights. So here’s hoping that this England squad, the weakest we have fielded in decades (possibly ever) will feel they have something to prove, and will actually perform.
This tournament is going to be an open one. Germany, France, Spain England and the Dutch all have a bunch of decent players, but all have vulnerabilities too. I don’t see Spain winning this one – they’ve gone off the boil. The Germans look the strongest of the bunch, with France close behind. My dark horse pick would be Russia.
Want to see my full set of predictions? I’ve decided to use a smartphone app called Football Attack. It’s available on Android or iPhone. You can add me on Facebook and join in the fun. Until then, here’s the ITV trailer for your amusement…