England expects

Ah it is that time again.

The extent to which a group of people can indulge in a process of collective forgetting is an impressive phenomenon to observe.

The England squad has just been announced for the Euro 2012.

I will leave the sifting of the various merits of these fine chaps to the footie experts who visit this site.

However, I would not have included John Terry, but my decision would have little to do with his abilities as a footballer.

At times like this the English sports media are a sight to behold.

Anyone from the other side of the world with no interest in soccer would be completely blindsided by the English coverage of the impending tournament in Poland and the Ukraine.

A reasonable person from outwith these islands would be forgiven for thinking that England are hot favourites for the competition if they were relying on the London media.

This swagger, our reasonable person would deduce, must come from the many times that the English have won the trophy in the past.

Actually the best that England has ever done in a European championship is to come third.

In 1968, while still world champions, Sir Alf Ramsey’s boys defeated the Soviet Union 2-0.

Since the tournament was started in 1960 the semi-finals is as far as any England team has progressed.

So despite never being in a final, let alone winning the damn thing, the reportage of England’s chances would make the succulent lamb boys in Glasgow blush.

A trophy that was won by Czechoslovakia in 1976 and Greece in 2004 continues to elude England.

I’m no football expert, but I have this vague notion that in order to win the competition one must first successfully navigate the semi-final stage.

England have yet to achieve this.

That will not stop the media boys in London  indulging in national chest puffing in the weeks ahead.

Despite their continued inexorable decline as a world power throughout the 20th century when England take to the field something happens.

Not only are they the best, but Johnny foreigner has no concept of the finer points of the game and, of coursing that distinctly English creation “fair play”.

I am instantly reminded of Alan Shearer’s Corinthian dive on the edge of the penalty area against Romania in Euro 2000.

In fairness he was rather graceful as he collapsed on the turf in the Charleroi stadium.

Of course the very same chap will be in the studio this summer analysing the ethical frailties of the foreigners and their penchant for simulation.

Yes, collective forgetting.

Yet his day job on Match of the Day is to look at a league comprised mainly of high earning imported players in the major EPL clubs.

It is a top league precisely because of the foreign import.

The dearth of native talent is not restricted to the field of play.

Since the English Premiership was established  the victorious managers have been French, Italian, Portuguese and Scottish.

Of course that which is cultural is not amenable to reason.

I think there is, perhaps something specifically ethnic about the English ability to repeatedly block collective recollection of a setback and not just in sport.

England expects because England forgets, every single time, especially when it goes to extra time.

I can’t help but find it  an endearing national trait.

Yes, it is that time again.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion