I’ve heard a few people comment recently that there doesn’t seem to be much excitement building up to this summer’s World Cup.
There does seem a distinct lack of St George’s flags flying from cars and bedroom windows and I can count on one hand the amount of people I’ve seen around Aylesbury proudly wearing Three Lions on their shirt.
But if the more restrained atmosphere results in the England team playing under a little less pressure, then that can only be a good thing. And the English have never been too good at the whole national pride thing anyway – we celebrate St Patrick’s Day ahead of our own patron saint.
However, I for one can’t wait for England’s campaign to begin.
In fact it’s the most excited I’ve been about a World Cup since 1998, when the tournament was held in France and Michael Owen scored ‘that’ goal against Argentina.
That’s because this is the first campaign since then to be led by an English manager.
While foreign players and coaches have enhanced the domestic game, I could never get my head around England being led by a Swede or Italian.
To me it completely went against what is so great about international football, nation pitted against nation.
It felt like cheating – the easy way out.
Do we give a top Brazilian striker a passport and a place in the team if we’re lacking options upfront?
And then, if we did win anything, it would always be with the help of another country.
No doubt if we’d have done well under Capello, Aylesbury’s Italian community would have been the first to remind their English friends that we only won with the help of the tactical nous of their fellow countryman.
The years since 1998 left me rather ambivalent towards England’s fortunes (also not helped by several of the players’ antics, both on and off the field).
I hated not feeling completely wrapped up by England, not shedding a tear when they were knocked out. I wanted to feel that emotion but instead felt rather numb.
But now I’ve got my England back – and players such as Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge seem like an antidote to the underperforming prima donnas of past campaigns.
I just hope they can turn it on for Roy Hodgson so that the clamour for another foreign manager remains at arm’s length – come on En-ger-land!