By Ollie Irish
Believe! That’s the mantra of every other World Cup ad in England, this time and the time before. And what are we supposed to believe exactly? I presume that by ‘Believe’, we must believe that England can win the World Cup.
They can, of course – in as much as any of the 32 teams can. And there’s nothing wrong with putting dreams in to the heads of white van men up and down the country. But, let’s be real, a quarter-final place, once again, is a logical, reasonable expectation for all England fans. That’s the level we’re at, one tier fully below teams like Spain and Brazil – and last night’s so-so display against Mexico only endorsed that fact.
However, Capello has a mighty influence on his players – they seem to fear him, genuinely – and so when it comes to the real thing, rather than a money-spinning friendly, England might yet play a blinder and steamroller their way to the semis and – believe! – even to the final. I don’t rule it out.
Last night’s winners and losers:
WINNERS: Rob Green (two excellent saves, will start against USA), Adam Johnson (pace, trickery and a football brain), Glen Johnson (cemented starting role vs USA), Peter Crouch (may have played himself into starting berth against the States)
LOSERS: Michael Carrick (poor passing display, unusually), Theo Walcott (see Adam Johnson, but without the brain bit), Ledley King (yes, he scored, but he was all over the place at the back and at fault for Mexico’s goal – there must be doubts about his mobility at the highest level)