A tidal wave of pessimism sweeps the nation following the announcement of Roy Hodgson’s England squad for Euro 2012. No-one thinks they’ll do well. People confident of reaching the quarter’s or semi’s in South Africa two years ago are suddenly saying getting past the group stage in Poland-Ukraine will be a success. Really? Differentgame begs to differ.
Since 1986 England have played in eleven major tournaments. They’ve won 18 games out of 48 and still managed to get to the 2nd round twice, to four quarter-finals and to two semi-finals. The only “top” teams they’ve had to beat in regulation/extra time to get that far in those eleven tournaments is Holland, Germany and Argentina
Take a look at those eleven tournament records:
Both Robson and Venables reached semi-finals. But Robson, in charge at three tournaments lost more games than he won (W5 D4 L6). Venables didn’t get beat but only won two from five with home advantage and one of those was against Scotland (W2 D3 L0)
Eriksson qualified for every tournament his team entered and reached the quarter-final stage three times in a row. No-one else comes anywhere near that without home advantage. Clearly, the Swede’s tournament results (W7 D4 L2) are the most consistent.
But what about before all that? What about Ramsey? His team failed to qualify for three out of the six tournaments in his reign. However, the Euros didn’t look anything like the format we see today back then. We’ll give him winning the World Cup. His tournament record on the face of it is impressive (W8 D1 L3). But six of those games were at Wembley. Take those games away and his record abroad looks distinctly average (W3 D0 L3).
Sven’s much maligned “Golden Generation” have been the most consistently good England team ever.
That’s how good you have to be in tournament football, folks. You can throw any amount of non-gelling, non-caring, misfit millionaires onto the pitch and still be the best ever England manager. And still be one of the best eight teams in the world. So it’s quite handy that Roy has picked most of them again. Another quarter-final probably beckons.
Follow me on twitter here.