Is there a future for England’s dreaming?

I seem to approach World Cups in a backward fashion – whilst other people build themselves into a fervour of excitement leading up to the first day (which is today), I have generally exhausted my excitement levels much earlier and need to re-energise myself.  That’s what this post is half an effort to do, since I’ve not really mentioned the World Cup at all so far beyond in passing.

In many ways I feel I miss out the rush of emotions many people (if the media is to be believed, which it isn’t) experience – I’ve never had a desire to fly little flags on my car, or adorn my house with St. George’s crosses – although I certainly don’t begrudge those that do the opportunity.  Of the numerous Scotsmen, Welshmen and Irishmen I know I’ve yet to meet one who is offended by such things.  I’m also not remotely offended by the ‘Anyone But England’ trend that some folks from the Celtic nations have adopted.

Hell, I generally adopt an ‘Anyone But Liverpool’ policy in European and domestic tournaments, so I think that can be considered part of a healthy rivalry and not a hate-fuelled political statement (although of course, for some it might well be).  On England, whilst I support them I can’t muster the passion I do for Forest – I desperately want them to do well, but always temper that with realistic expectations too…

I was lucky enough to grow up in an era when the Reds had a sizeable contingent of players who represented England which naturally drives my interest further.   Those days are obviously long gone, and aside from a tenuous claim to Michael Dawson (who won’t get a game), there’s not much Forest-shaped interest aside from even more tenuous links to the oft-forgotten loan spell John Terry spent with us, and the fact we released Shaun Wright-Phillips for being too small.

However, as tomorrow comes around and I find a suitable spot in the pub to take in our opener against the USA I’m pretty confident I will succumb again to World Cup Fever.  Like most fans I’ve tried to predict outcomes, the last one I did saw a not-entirely-disbelievable Quarter Final exit (I can’t remember who we lost to, though!).  The trouble with this is, of course, that – frankly – I know so little about most of the teams my predictions might as well be produced by a random number generator.

My concern for England is that we rely very heavily on the Rooney factor – he’s the spark that can ignite impressive performances from the side.  Aside from him, and the always-difficult-to-handle Peter Crouch we don’t really seem to offer much threat up top.  Like many the continued presence of Heskey bamboozles me, I don’t care what statistics you show me about goals with him in or out the side, I could show you the same for Neil Harris’s spell with Forest.  He was still rubbish.

I wasn’t planning on habitually writing but as stories or thoughts occur I might dabble in the World Cup a bit.  By my crude estimations (and limited knowledge) I just can’t quite put our current England squad at the same level as Spain, Brazil, Holland and – pending Maradona’s sanity – Argentina.  Then there’s the unexpected wildcard factor – Germany’s young squad could provide this, or maybe Mexico who look dangerous going forward, then there’s the ‘home nation factor’ to consider…

However, if you don’t approach a tournament expecting to win it (which is very much a standard attitude for a Forest fan these days, I would’ve thought!), it makes it much more straightforward to enjoy what happens.  I’ll certainly be going out of my way to see all the England fixtures and watch any other games that take my fancy or fit my schedule.  And in that spirit, I’m really looking forward to it.

I just can’t make the highs as high, or the lows at mind-numbingly and depressingly crushing as they are when games involve Forest.  Which is probably a good thing, after all, summer is supposed to be a spell away from the stresses and strains of being a football supporter – so for those of you who do muster comparable fervour for England as for your club sides, you’re in for a torrid few weeks!