Why England's 2011 form is no cause for optimism

Saw Fabio Capello at a drinks reception the other night. He was in bullish mood. After an unbeaten 2011, some England supporters might share his infectious positivity.

And maybe it was the vino — but I also began to optimistically wonder what 2012 might bring for the English team.

At which point, a friend reminded me of England’s competitive history. Do you actually know how BAD England’s tournament record is? Here goes.

England have appeared in 13 World Cup finals. Aside from 1966, they have only advanced beyond the quarter-final stage ONCE.

On every occasion England has faced a major nation outside of the group stage, they have been knocked out.

Germany 2010, Portugal 2006, Brazil 2002, Argentina 1998, West Germany 1990, West Germany (drew but exited via group format) 1982, West Germany 1970, Brazil 1962, Uruguay 1954

In European Championships, the record is worse. From 1960 to 1976 there was a four-team finals tournament, with semi-final and final.

England reached the semi-finals in 1968 — beaten by Yugoslavia. They failed to qualify in ‘64, ‘72 and ‘76, going out to France, West Germany and Czechoslovakia.

In 1980, the tournament was increased to two groups of four, evolving to the 16 finalists of today. England qualified for the finals in 1980, ‘88, ‘92, ‘96, 2000 and 2004, missing out in 1984 and 2008. However, they have won only SIX games in these six finals, plus a penalty shoot-out with Spain in 1996.

In fact, outside of hosting the tournament, England have won only FOUR games in five finals.

There is the phrase about damned lies and statistics. But this is the damned truth.

And the damned truth is that for all the bravado, modern history chronicles us as a second-rate footballing nation.

***

Without wishing to get all bah humbug, it seemed a bit incongruous for Manchester City players to mark their first Premier League defeat of the season by trooping off to a Mayfair nightclub in fancy dress

Still, at least no-one was arrested for ­allegedly trashing cars in the street. For one player whose reputation is plummeting faster than the temperature and another whose short career has been blighted by rank indiscipline, you would have thought Nicklas Bendtner and Lee Cattermole would have been keeping their heads down after Martin O’Neill’s arrival.

As Torres and Carroll flop, how Demba Ba continues to shine  

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williamhill.com

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