England 1 Serbia 0
Euro 2024 is finally here, a campaign that started in Naples and one that we hope will end in Berlin on Sunday 14th July.  20 years on from my 1st tournament experience and 18 years on from the World Cup in 2006 held in Germany we go into this with the same hope as always, surely this is the year Football finally comes home.

There is something very different to tournament football than they usual experience that you get when following the National team all over the world.  Your international away day experience is somewhat like a club away day, a selected number of people who have put the miles in over the course of not only this campaign but campaigns prior to this that entitles them to tickets that others don’t have access to.

A smaller number of fans who every so often combine for one common goal, to support the England Football team, leaving club rivalries aside for that short period.  There is a togetherness amongst the fans that follow England now.

With Germany so easily accessible from the UK England will have huge numbers at every game, 20,000+ were in the stadium on Sunday night and it will be the same in the 2ndgame v Denmark on Thursday. With that comes a new set of fans who don’t follow England other than tournaments and that togetherness amongst the fans in the qualifiers in and around the cities of the game can be lost.

The golden generation always struggled to separate from the rivalries of club football and that hampered them as players impacting results.  I think during that period it was the same amongst the fans as well.  United fans booing Liverpool players and vice versa.

What this England squad does have is a feel of togetherness that hasn’t been seen for a long time which is why albeit still falling short they have had a sustained period of success.  That player togetherness translates to the stands in the qualifiers, the setup now has a club feel to it across the board. Maybe this is why we always look dominant in qualifying but in tournaments we struggle when it matters.  The togetherness across the board over a 10-game campaign doesn’t have the same feel in tournament football.

What is abundantly evident is the fact that the Nation now expects better from these players, although the favourites tag attached to this England squad is laughed at by most England fans when we look at the other squads we are competing against.  Out in Germany every other nation is fearing England, whoever you speak to (even the Jocks) are saying England are the team to beat.  One Scotland fan at our hotel said when we beat them 3-1 at Hampden that England were the best team, he’d seen Scotland face in all his time following Scotland.

As fans we don’t see that, and I think the atmosphere in the ground and performance on the pitch suggested this.  The fear of losing is still the dominate factor in the mindset as opposed to being brave enough to go and win it.  Sunday’s performance was a clear indication of this, once 1-0 ahead the front foot we started on seemed to take a step back and we went into fear mode.

This was also indictive of the atmosphere inside the stadium, a stadium that was 75% full of England fans and as loud as it has been for a long time.  The fans felt the tension, there was an unrest amongst the fans that spread onto the pitch and vice versa.  

Tournament football is about winning and the pragmatist in me says we did just that.  Won our 1st game while keeping a clean sheet, no bookings and no injuries.  The reality is it seemed like a team happy to just do enough which deeper into the tournament may come back and bite them on the backside.

The one X factor that could be the difference is Jude Bellingham. We haven’t had this since 2004 when Rooney was unplayable.  I’m convinced that had Rooney not got injured in that tournament we’d have gone on to win it, he was that good. The similarities are there between the two, opposition fans and players fear them, both young and carrying the weight of the nation on their shoulders. Some have shirked away from this, Jude is different.  He wants the limelight; he wants the pressure, and he wants all eyes on him. The fact that he was born in Stourbridge but made in Birmingham is the icing on the cake.

We always knew what he was capable of, people laughed at us, we are the ones laughing now.

Forward to Frankfurt.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts