As England were falling about themselves in France – those on the pitch against Iceland, those off it at having to witness such a catastrophic failure – one word was brandished about with all the subtlety of a car alarm. Fear. The three lions had all become cowardly because of the weight of expectation.
Everything ends. Players – people – come and go. Entire eras of domination washed away in what seems like the blinking of an eye. So why bother? Why work so hard for something that isn’t guaranteed to last? The chance – and seeming inevitability – of failure is too large, surely? For some people, simply trying is too big a gamble. Willing to have massive failure on your hands rather than hoping for very little, because in the end neither are good enough. The few bold enough to take those risks are the ones that rise above. Those that do can under the right circumstances build something that lasts, however long. Triumph exists in the mind. A place where time stands still and a single memory can last forever.
Those that are truly ambitious never get comfortable. Comfort implies a level of acceptance that the quest for perfection will never allow. Believing in your own ability to achieve something is one thing, it’s another to do so with a massive weight on your shoulders.
Maybe it’s naivety or even arrogance on the part of the manager, thinking he can actually keep everything going in this day and age. Just because you accept that defeat is a part of the game however does not mean that you have to accept defeat.
Fans have become conditioned into believing football is a rather formulaic game. There is no one tactic, no one player that guarantees victory. All we have is the knowledge of our opponent and hopefully the talents to either outplay and outsmart them.
As a footballing entity and a nation, England has always had a fascination with a certain brand of football. In regard to shortening the gap between the best and the rest, it’s all about negativity. Destruction is far easier than creation. Make sure whatever happens, that the opposition don’t actually play any football. Roy Hodgson and his cautious ways have already been swept under the rug and now England is left in Sam Allardyce’s bullish hands. There is no fear left any more. There is also no expectation.