But we're not having it. England haven't gone out of the World Cup first round since 1958. This stinks. And the more you look at it, the worse the misery gets.
Here's why England's World Cup debacle is even worse than you think it is.
1-There’s more misery to come
Let’s look at the conditions of England qualifying again:
Now, hands up anyone who can spot which of those three things is most likely not to happen?
The situation is made for Italy to win their remaining games and give England the chance to sneak through if only they can beat Costa Rica convincingly... and we’ll come unstuck again.
2-Attacking football is a way to get results, not an acceptable alternative
England have played more ambitious stuff than four years ago, but if it’s only going to lead to defeat, shouldn’t we be grinding out nil-nils instead?
Nobody is realistically saying this England team should have gone all the way, but if you consider a slightly more attractive brand of football a reasonable substitute for, y’know, actually winning some matches, you’re simply deluded.
3-The defence is irredeemably hopeless.
In 2002 Sven-Goran Eriksson took these centre-backs to the World Cup: Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, Gareth Southgate, Martin Keown.
In 2006: Campbell, Ferdinand, John Terry and Jamie Carragher.
All six of those options were better than England’s first choice last night, Gary Cahill.
4-It’s not going to get any better
England do have good young players, but not at the back where they really need them.
Phil Jones has some qualities, but knowing where to stand is not one of them. Chris Smalling’s talent for offensive fancy dress far outweighs his defensive skill, and John Stones’s track record consists of half a good season for Everton.
Suffocated by fear on the big stage? Well done lads, you’re real England players now.
5-Expectations keep plummeting, and England keep falling below them
With each tournament the bar of expectation falls for England yet, like a skilled limbo dancer, they slide underneath it.
We forget exactly what The Sun’s World Cup slogan was in 2006 – probably something like ‘Don’t Come Home Unless You Win (But You Definitely Will)’.
In 2010, it was the wistfully optimistic ‘Maybe. Just Maybe’. Or maybe not...
This time it contained no reference to results, just ‘Make Us Proud’.
And yet here we are, chewing over the overwhelming possibility of our earliest World Cup exit since 1958.
In 2018 it will be ‘Try Not To Accidentally Light Yourselves On Fire’ - and yet a freak accident will see Jordan Henderson douse his colleagues in paraffin while Jack Wilshere absent-mindedly strikes a match.
6-And the alternative to Roy Hodgson is...
With the FA apparently determined to stick with an English manager, the Daily Telegraph’s respected Henry Winter claims the natural successor to Hodgson is...
OK, so that was a bit depressing. Why not cheer yourself up by reading the other side of the debate:
- Sports & Recreation
- Costa Rica