Great Expectations? Maybe Not This Time England, But Who Knows?

Posted: October 8, 2016 in Arsenal, Chelsea, England, Football, International Football, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, The World Cup
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Having spent most of my working life scraping a living in the sales industry I have met, over the years, my fair share of blindly optimistic people. It helps, apparently, to think that something will go well even when, to the unbiased observer, it obviously will not.

I have nothing against optimism and positive mental attitude but, as with most things, there is a time and a place.

I, on the other hand, tend to lean towards the realistic, (some would say pessimistic but that is not always the case). It is a philosophy which has served me quite well. Yes, it has probably cost me when I have erred on the cautious side but, on the other hand, the same principle has probably saved me when others have been very depressed.

The fact that a pessimist is never disappointed whereas an optimist is constantly disappointed has always stuck with me since an early age. This seemed a much more sensible way of thinking and has been borne out many times. Being a realist was the happy medium and it takes away some of the pessimism as the expected course of events can sometimes be positive.

The vast majority of suicides, for example, involve positive people and everything going wrong. They can’t cope with life when it doesn’t take the expected path. For a pessimist, life rarely takes the expected path but, then again, they never expected it to!

The other problem is that overly positive people tend to think that realists are negative. They only want to hear the truth if it is positive, if not then don’t say anything! I have been involved with companies where a “positive lie” is far more preferable to a “negative truth“.

Sometimes, the reality of a situation is not positive, such as England’s failure to win a trophy since their home run in 1966.

This, however, does not stop an optimistic press and nation from getting wildly excited about the chances of winning every tournament entered since that day fifty years ago.

This way of thinking has resulted in a regularly depressed nation. Every competition has resulted in failure to qualify, an early exit or a late exit. The latest of the late exits has been the semi-final stage as England haven’t even managed to reach a final in all this time!

Now another World Cup qualification campaign is underway. England should qualify without too many problems but, as a realist, I would not be too surprised if, for some strange reason, they didn’t.

Once qualified the usual hype will begin to appear. Amongst it will be the voices of reason, trying to calm the wild expectations of Fleet Street’s finest along with several million optimistic and patriotic supporters. They will fail abysmally and it will only remain for them to utter a feeble “I told you so”, when the England team are back home, having suffered yet another premature end to yet another failed tournament.

If only we could realise that, as a football nation, we are not as good as Germany or Italy or France or Spain or Portugal or even Holland and Belgium. If we could swallow our pride, accept that we need to get back to the drawing board and start producing some decent players at schoolboy level then we may, someday, have a chance. If they are good enough they WILL get into the first team even at the big clubs.

As long as the attitude is one of “we can win the World Cup!” just because we have beaten some third rate countries in qualifying, then the problems will remain.

The England press and fans are a perfect example of why I have lived most of my life as a realist. They have spent the last fifty years being depressed and disappointed every time the national team has failed to win a tournament so, consequently, they have spent a lot of time in this condition.

I have always accepted that there were teams in every tournament who were better than England and so, realistically, there was never much chance of winning a trophy.

The other requirement to be winners is a modicum of luck and, in all fairness, England rarely get any, particularly when they reach the latter stages of competition, (Lampard’s goal” against Germany, Maradona’s “hand of God“, etc).

So good luck to them on this new campaign. It has got off to a good start with them having sacked their manager after one game and installed an interim who didn’t want the job but is now likely to stay longer than the previous full-time boss! The captain can’t get into his club side and his form has been atrocious for ages and Glen Johnson has been recalled.

It’s all looking rosy and really there’s nothing at all about which to be pessimistic, is there?


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