England soccer fans will have every reason to celebrate in whatever way they see fit on Sunday evening after the Three Lions eliminate Italy from Euro 2012. Make no mistake, the England team are on a mission this year and for once lady luck is playing a positive hand in her fate.
Luck is often hard to define, but the first stroke of it came when it was revealed that Harry Redknapp was not even considered to replace Fabio Capello as England’s manager. Instead the FA looked to the more politically acceptable Roy Hodgson who has gone about his business extremely efficiently and with due modesty.
New manager, Roy Hodgson, who was only appointed last month, has already galvanised the players into a squad with winning mentality and one that has engendered an all for one and one for all attitude that has seen them come through the Group stage of the tournament as winners.
Chelsea fans will not thank this writer for this, but the second stroke of good fortune came when Frank Lampard was forced to remain at home through injury. His absence immediately made life easier for Hodgson who did not have the problem of playing the gifted midfielder alongside captain, Steven Gerrard in midfield. Instead, Hodgson has a ‘Gerrard’ of old, a captain fantastic who has made huge contributions to the team’s success thus far and is in the form to make plenty more. His role has been aided and abetted by Scott Parker who dovetails with Gerrard in the centre of the park as if the two had been playing together all of their lives.
Luck was with England again when Gerrard’s cross hit Wayne Rooney on the head to score the winning goal against Ukraine which was consolidated when Ukraine were denied a perfectly legal equalising goal which could have had a seriously adverse effect on whether or not England would finish top of their group or not. That slice of luck of course was bettered when news filtered through to Kiev that Sweden, against all the odds, had defeated France, meaning that it will be Les Bleus who will face the defending champions, Spain in the last eight and not England.
Add to the mix that England have not suffered from any major injuries, discipline on and off the pitch has been exemplary and has impressed the nation so much that the flags of St George are coming out all over the country like they had done in the past.
England’s start under Hodgson has also effectively killed off the British Tabloid Press negatives, who had been very quick to ridicule the new manager with his minor speech impediment he was first appointed. As we all know, tabloids only know how to be rude; they have no idea of being supportive because they are steeped in the propaganda that negatives sells newspapers but perhaps even they will think again once the Euro 2012 Trophy is sitting proudly at Lancaster Gate, home of the English Football Association.
After England has beaten Italy, it will be the turn of Germany to feel the might of England in the Semi Final. This will be the chance that England has been waiting for, the opportunity to erase the nightmares of those past semi and quarter final defeats in World Cups and European Championships. This time it will be the Three Lions who go forward whether it will come in 90 minutes, 120 minutes or the penalty shoot-out, it matters not; England will be in the final regardless.
England are 2.90 in the betting to beat Italy in 90 minutes or 1.90 to qualify, whilst their odds of winning Euro 2012 stand at 10.00.
Signed, a confident England Fan!