Can England win the World Cup?

It’s that time again. Every four years the World Cup sparks feverish media attention across the globe, rightly so. Apart from the Olympics, there’s no sporting event that comes close. Footballphobes look away now.

For me there are two great mysteries attached to World Cup football. One is awarding the tournament to Qatar in 2022. Even allowing for bungs in brown envelopes, this must be one of the most bizarre decisions ever taken, in or outside football.

But the other, more immediate, mystery is how England will perform. Can England win the World Cup? The answer to this is of course no. The team simply isn’t in the same class as the top five.The real question is why the team consistently underperforms and disappoints. Since England’s World Cup win in 1966 I’ve watched England give a series of hapless performances at World Cups and Euros under a succession of incredulous managers.. The only bright light was when Bobby Robson was in charge, with Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne orchestrating a creative midfield.

The nadir was four years back when England stuttered to another low. Wayne Rooney walked off the pitch after another dismal team display, criticising the fans for giving him a hard time. He’s back this year, probably his last World Cup, and his former team mate Paul Scholes thinks he’s over the hill. Wayne’s gone into a bit of a strop. It doesn’t bode well for England fans. But whatever happens in the run up, one thing is certain: come the tournament, England will play like strangers with blindfolds and lose the penalty shootout, if they ever make it to one. Cue rejoicing from Scotland fans.