By Jack Ryan
Even before yesterday’s 2-0 win over Swede, millions of Brits convinced themselves that ultimate victory was all but assured.
“It’s coming home,” a reference to the iconic line “football’s coming home” from a wildly popular 1996 song about the national team, is heard everywhere.
Flags and banners hang from houses and shopfronts and out of car windows. Newspapers emblazon the faces of and headlines about the leading lights all over the front pages, and deliver blanket coverage in the sports sections at the back.
And that song, official title “Three Lions,” finds its way onto every station, all the time.
From being overly pessimistic, England is now massively overconfident, which is a surefire path to heartache if things don’t turn out as expected. Fortunately, the squad and coaching staff doesn’t seem to be buying into that cocky belief.
In a strange sense, it might actually have been helped by the fact that far fewer England fans have travelled for this tournament than those of the past, largely because many feared the reputation of Russian hooligans, few of whom have been spotted during the event.
It suits head coach Gareth Southgate to keep his troops grounded and he has done a masterful job of it. It suits him to portray the image of being underdogs, even though they were a favorite when they took on Sweden and got through thanks to goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli.
Southgate seems to have been able to build up the World Cup trophy as something distant enough that it take tireless work to get there, while not building fear of success.
The truth is that as of last night, there will still be just four teams left in the World Cup. While mathematics suggest that England has a one-in-four chance, reality would suggest something more unlikely than that as France remains the clear top pick for most
Spurred by the goals of Kane, the tireless midfield effort of a spirited bunch and a solid and determined backline, England believes it can beat everyone. The nation back home has convinced itself that it will.