England have an 80% chance of ‘huge disappointment’; welcome to hype week

Editor F365
Gareth Southgate, Jarrod Bowen and Eberechi Eze.
Gareth Southgate, Jarrod Bowen and Eberechi Eze.

England have a roughly one-in-five chance of winning Euro 2024 but it will be a ‘failure’ and a ‘huge disappointment’ if they drop short. Welcome to ‘build them up’ week…


‘Meet the SunSport Dream Team for the Euros… and even German legend Jurgen Klinsmann is tipping England for glory,’ screams The Sun.

Well, you’re basically paying him to say that, fellas. Because it absolutely suits The Sun to build up England this week before knocking them down, just two days after this misery-laden back page:

(The answer to that question of course is that he was the one throwing the paper plane and it fitted with the punned headline; for once, this was nothing sinister).

‘ARE ENGLAND THE FAVOURITES?’ was the question asked of the ‘Dream Team’. Well, technically yes in terms of English bookmakers (whose odds are largely driven by bets placed in England), but across the continent, the favourites are quite rightly World Cup finalists France.

Oddly, France do not get a single mention in this meeting of minds. Because this is all about England and creating some ridiculous expectations.

“I think we’ll win it,” says Harry Redknapp, who has clearly not spotted the actual England defence or the actual England midfield.

“If we get to the semi-final and get knocked out, we haven’t done well. This team needs to win it.”

What a right load of bollocks. If England get to the semi-final and lose to a better side in France, that is perfectly reasonable.

Redknapp has an ally in Jack Wilshere, who says: “We’re definitely favourites. If we don’t win it, it will be seen as a failure. Gareth’s done such a great job and he’s brought hope.

“We’ve got the best players on paper but I know the game’s not played on paper.”

The delusion is so very real and so very predictable. England have just lost 1-0 to Iceland, FFS. They’re not ‘definitely favourites’.

Even without mentioning Germany and Portugal, have you actually seen the France squad? It is ludicrous. They have looked at Michael Olise and gone ‘merci mais non merci’.

If the game was played on paper, then England would be f***ed.

👉 England can only be as good as England’s players and they are overrated
👉 England Euro 2024 snubbed XI: White, Grealish and Henderson in team of stars rejected by Southgate
👉 Euro 2024 Power Rankings: England realism, Scottish despair and French glory


It’s rare that the BBC‘s Phil McNulty features in these pages as it is rare that he is anything other than dull. Except here. Which was brilliant and should never be forgotten.

But he heads into this European Championship piling the pressure onto England (the third-ranked European team in the world, remember).

England’s squad has experience and exuberance. They should feel capable of winning Euro 2024.

Not that much experience; 15 of the 26-man squad have fewer than 20 England caps.

And this time there can be no excuses – anything other than victory must be regarded as a huge disappointment. To call it a failure would be too strong if, as slated, they play France in the semi-final and run into Kylian Mbappe and company at their best.

But major disappointment? Absolutely.

‘Anything other than victory’ a huge disappointment? Why? England are – at best – Arsenal to France’s Manchester City, and sometimes competing really should be enough. It has to be because – and this might shock some people – they only play in one major tournament every two years.

Even Opta (who regard England as very marginal favourites) give them a less than 20% chance of lifting the trophy. So there is an 80% chance of a ‘huge disappointment’? That really does not seem rational.

England, though, do have a squad capable of winning the trophy and that is why anything else will not be regarded as enough.

Again, that’s not rational. Do they have a squad ‘capable’? Yes. But so do several other countries. France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium all have capable squads. Do they all have to win? Or is this just a quintessentially English thing?

England have a reliable, experienced goalkeeper in Jordan Pickford and a world-class centre-half, when fit, in Manchester City’s John Stones.

One world-class centre-half that does not get into Manchester City’s first-choice XI, yes.

We cannot help but think that might not be enough.

Searching questions remain over left-back, central defence and who fits alongside Declan Rice in midfield, but elsewhere England do look the real deal – except they are not until they win something and that is the rub with Southgate and this team.

So there are ‘searching questions’ about three members of the starting XI and yet anything less than winning the whole damned thing ‘will not be regarded as enough’? Grow up.


The Greal grift that keeps on giving
You might have naively thought that the fuss about Gareth Southgate’s final England squad would have died down by now but oh my sweet summer child, there are still clicks to be mined. And we should know.

As ever, the real grift is from the Mirror:

Gareth Southgate U-turned on Jack Grealish for England after ‘brutally honest’ remark

Now you might reasonably assume from that headline that there was a ‘brutally honest’ remark and that it happened at some point in the last two weeks between Grealish being picked in a 33-man squad but not in a 26-man squad.

You definitely would not think that Southgate was speaking in October 2023, when he referred to Grealish himself being “brutally honest” about his own form.

So technically, he did U-turn on Jack Grealish (is it a U-turn after one competitive England start in a year?) after he described him as “brutally honest” but he also U-turned on Jack Grealish after the launch of Snickers, the death of the queen and the announcement of the Glastonbury line-up. All of which are equally relevant.

But if you think eight months are a long time in football, try four years. This time it’s the Manchester Evening News:

Kevin De Bruyne’s opinion on Jack Grealish before England axe speaks volumes

‘Before England axe’? That particular opinion was from 2020, before he had even claimed five caps for England.

The only volumes being spoken here are about the desperation of certain elements of an overgrown football media.