With the three lions picking up an easy victory in Almaty (where?), they are left needing one victory from their final three games of qualifying to assure them of a place in the Finals next summer. As you can see, Captain John Terry was very excited at the prospect of competing in a summer tournament after missing out on the last one – and we need not go there. Gareth Barry gave City fans a preview of what is to come next season as he scored a goal and bossed the midfield. Both Capello and Terry were extremely optimistic in their post-match interviews, with the latter even mentioning Spain in the same sentence as England!
This is where I draw the line Johnny boy. Optimism is a dangerous disease, and it spreads fast. It’s worth noting that England struggled in the early going, with Kazak striker Andrey Ostapenko having a goal disallowed in the first minute for being marginally offside. I’m not trying to put a dampener on England’s qualifying campaign (well, maybe I am) but let’s try to keep this victory in check, lads. Perennial powerhouse Andorra are up next for the lions, a team they only managed to beat 2-0 last September. It will only take a less than stellar performance against the Catalan-speaking Andorrans to bring the camp back down to earth.
It’s always good to be optimistic in sport, but there must be good reason for it. England certainly will qualify for the World Cup in 2010. They have the potential to win it all. This type of talk puts the whole country in a frenzied furor. But how many times have we heard this from both the English press and the players? And many times have we been let down? After one or two lackluster performances, the critics will come back out and voice the same clichés as they do every year. Gerrard and Lampard can’t play together. Rooney is being played out of position. The players don’t seem to care. And the fans will think, “Weren’t you guys saying we could challenge Spain 6 months ago?”
The players need to put their heads down, and make up for the embarrassment of not making Euro 2008. They can start by qualifying first in their group. This is accomplished on the field, not in the papers.