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The unbearable hope — and inevitable pain — of supporting England at a World Cup

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“You’ve got to face the fact there may now be a meltdown. OK?,” said a senior member of the squad this week. “I don’t want anybody to panic during the meltdown. No panic. Pro bono publico, no bloody panic. It’s going to be all right in the end.”

Yes, it’s time for another England World Cup campaign, and it doesn’t matter that the senior member of the squad is Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, or that he happened to be talking about the Brexit negotiations, now into what seems like their ninetieth year, and with no end in sight.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

An English World Cup campaign will almost certainly include a meltdown, and there will be panic, and introspection, and calls for something, anything, to be done to — or by, or for — somebody. But it’s going to be all right in the end. It’s just that as with Brexit, nobody knows when the end will be or whether any of you old enough to be reading this will live long enough to see it.

England’s two friendly victories this past week, against a poor Nigeria team and a workmanlike Costa Rica, allowed the nation (or the nation’s football commentators, at least) to accentuate the positive. The thumping header with which Gary Cahill opened the scoring against Nigeria got them excited about set pieces; more ominously, it earned Cahill the man-of-the-match award. The willing, likeable but tortoise-paced centre-back is not the recipient one might have been hoping for in a home game against Nigeria, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling all up the other end.3

In the game against Costa Rica, TV pundit and former England manager Glenn Hoddle enthused about the left-footed full-back Danny Rose putting a left-footed cross into the penalty area from the left side of the pitch. “Lovely to see,” said Hoddle. “Natural.”nfl cheap jerseys nike

Nothing came from the cross and if you have a season ticket at Rochdale, you’ve probably seen something similar in every home game this season but keep it to yourself. England need to keep morale high and if that means praising an international footballer for kicking the ball with his stronger foot, then so be it. Pro bono publico, no bloody panic.

In previous tournaments, it was possible to feel the disappointment turning to rage and bile even before a ball had been kicked. In 2014, the “Golden Generation” had almost vanished in a fog of under-achievement but Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard were still there. Two goals, two defeats and one goal-less draw later, they were home again, after the group stage, and England could draw a veil over another era of expectancy and failure.

This time around, the players are not celebrities, not yet; those with no interest in football would be hard pushed to name a single member of the squad, let alone any of their wives or girlfriends. Several players — Marcus Rashford, Rose, Cahill, Danny Welbeck — can only occasionally push themselves into the first team at their clubs, and one of them, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, can’t force his way into his club at all: he’s spent the year on loan at Crystal Palace instead.

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