England v Brazil : international friendly – live!

Are England allowed to be optimistic yet? Their success at youth level has left the French, Germans and Spanish trying to unpack the secrets of St George’s Park, Holland and Italy have placed things into perspective by failing to make it to Russia next summer and an experimental line-up more than held its own in a goalless draw with Germany last Friday. So it’s official: England might not make a total show of themselves at the World Cup! Hip hip!

That, of course, represents something of a shift in tone since the era of headlines like ENGLAND EXPECTS before major tournaments. These days it’s more ENGLAND WILL SETTLE FOR A NICE PLEASANT RUN TO THE QUARTER-FINALS, WHICH ISN’T TOO MUCH TO ASK, ALL WE REALLY WANT IS TO MAINTAIN A BIT OF NATIONAL PRIDE AND DIGNITY (hmm, maybe there’s a reason I don’t do the headlines), which is a welcome departure from the bombast of the Golden Generation. This, ultimately, is a footballing nation still trying to piece together its sense of self-respect after a long string of very public failures and ridicule. England’s behaviour at the past few tournaments has been nothing short of farcical and no one in their right mind will be tipping them for glory next summer. Still, it’s nice to have a bit of hope and, while there’s plenty of room for improvement, there have been a few quietly encouraging signs recently.

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