If all goes to plan, next summer’s European Championships could actually be quite interesting for City fans.
Already we have the mouth-watering prospect of watching Kyle Lafferty lay siege on a variety of continental centre-backs (if indeed he is still a City player); his challenge now is to carry on the sensational form he has shown in qualifying through to the tournament proper. And also, to continue his equally impressive record of exceeding bookings with goals.
Then there’s our Scandinavian contingent.
Alex Tettey – who of late has forced his way back into the Norwegian starting XI – could join Lafferty in France providing he and his countrymen can either retain their current second place in Group H or, if necessary, negotiate the play-offs. In order to take the easy route they have to tackle successfully a far from easy trip to Rome on Tuesday night.
Martin Olsson’s Sweden too may have to settle for the play-off route – they currently lie third in Group G – and are in need of a favour from Montenegro in Russia on Monday night. But still the Swedes look in decent shape and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic desperate for one final hoorah on the international stage few will bet against them making it to France.
And then of course there’s Wes and Robbie Brady – both of whom caught the eye in the Republic’s win over the Germans on Thursday night. They too may have to do it the hard way but tonight’s ‘winner takes all’ shoot-out with Poland in Warsaw offers them one final shot at being spared the potential of more Thierry Henry-type heartache.
So, as it stands, there is the potential of having Canary interest across four nations – almost unheard of.
Alas, for reasons well discussed, there is fat chance of seeing any of our heroes wear the white of England – Roy’s ‘big club syndrome’ will see to that (yes, I know Jamie Vardy is currently in the frame, but he remains the exception). There have been occasions when it’s been worth taking a look at those wearing the yellow and green but, John Ruddy aside, none have even had as much as a sniff.
Like it not, it takes a move to one of the big boys to catch Hodgson’s eye as Danny Ings has proved. Has he really been any more impressive this season for Liverpool than he was last season for Burnley? It will be interesting to see how long it takes Nathan Redmond to make the full squad if or when he departs the fine city.
But it’s a minor qualm and our place in the natural order probably dictates that it’s not just Roy’s fault that we generally have to rely on the other home nations and beyond for our international interest. When a player progresses to a level that takes them out of our grasp, the next stop is the clutches of the top six and then England – the route taken by the brilliant Danny Mills.
And therefore I can’t blame a lack of City involvement for my falling out of love with England. Said involvement has rarely been there.
But it’s a question I asked myself on Friday night when I could barely be bothered to sit through England’s 2-0 win over Estonia. Nine wins out of nine. So what.
I’m not 100 per cent sure when it all went wrong, although Germany’s 4-1 humiliation of England in Bloemfontein in the 2010 World Cup was a definite turning point. To this day Mesut Özil skipping past a lumbering Gareth Barry gives me nightmares (I’ve never forgiven Barry) and was probably the final blow in a series of punches that crushed my desire for England glory.
And it all used to be so different.
In the eighties, nineties and noughties I was a Wembley regular and was even in St Etienne to watch Michael Owen score *that*goal. England mattered to me almost as much – dare I say it – as Norwich City. Following Gazza and co’s route to the semi-final of Euro 96 remains another highlight.
An England defeat used to really hurt. *Every* England defeat used to really hurt.
Yet – and Ed puts it far more eloquently than I – the ‘golden generation’ did it for me. Talented, yes, but of an ilk that made them impossible to love. Very little to do with their constant under-achievement, more to do with the unwarranted swagger that accompanied it.
And now, as with Ed and many others, an England international on ITV (even minus Adrian Chiles and Andy Townsend) is observed with the same enthusiasm as Stoke v West Brom or even Macclesfield v Kidderminster.
Perhaps, in the spirit of the fickle football fan, a couple of early England wins next June will see me hop aboard the Hodgson Express but for now I’m more looking forward to seeing big Kyle put it ‘up em’ and Wes runs rings around the Germans… again.
And finally… one last shout for tonight’s Tales from the City Live event at Norwich Open. This is the launch night for the new Norwich City book series ‘Tales From The City’ and will be the first opportunity to get your hands on this must have read for any City supporter.
For obvious reasons tickets are no longer on general sale but Mick has promised to try and squeeze you in if you’ve yet to commit. Please email email@example.com as soon as possible and he’ll do his very best.
And if you’re going, hope to see you there. Should be good.