I will say here and now that there is very little chance of England winning the delayed Euro ’20 tournament being held this summer. I hope I’m wrong about this, after all, I was nobbut five years old when the Three Lions actually won owt, and it’s become increasingly clear over the intervening decades that the chances of it happening again while I remain above ground to see it are slim and dwindling towards non-existent.
That’s not to say we don’t have a fine crop of players – we do. Yet that’s been equally true in the past, but we’ve always somehow contrived to fall short each and every time. I expect this depressing trend to continue from next month onward to the climax of the event on my 60th birthday.
The reason for my pessimism is best summed up thus; the football establishment in this country hates Leeds United, and that hatred is to the fore whenever decisions are being made that could perhaps reflect some credit on the Elland Road pariahs. The latest example is the frankly ridiculous choices made today regarding the England squad’s offensive depth. As ever, the claims of Patrick Bamford have been overlooked – despite the fact that he’s just enjoyed an outrageously productive Premier League season during which he has scored 17 goals, provided his share of assists, been victimised by VAR, run the gonads off some of the best defenders in the best league in the world, and has generally shown himself to be the nearest thing to Harry Kane that would potentially be available to England in the unfortunate circumstance of the boy Harry doing himself an unthinkable mischief.
I would say that, of course – I’m a Leeds United fan and I wear my yellow, white and blue blinkers accordingly. But it’s a view held outside the fold as well. One caller in to one of the football chat stations earlier today voiced the identical opinion – Bamford is the best Plan B we have should England find themselves Kaneless and bereft. And this was a Leicester City fan, doubtless still traumatised by Paddy’s world class finish at the King Power stadium a few months back, to go alongside his two assists in that 3-1 Leeds victory. But, regardless of what Bamford brings to the table, Mr. Southgate has opted to do without – a decision I feel will come back to haunt him. And I reiterate: I hope I’m wrong.
If anyone can explain to me a rationale behind the decision to exclude Paddy that doesn’t amount to bog-standard Leeds-hating, then I’d be very interested to hear it. Yes, I know our Kalvin has been selected – and I hope that he will recover from his worrying shoulder injury in time to play his part for the nation. Even so, the stirrings in the sewer end of the Press are currently to the effect that, with Rice and possibly Henderson available, Kalvin may just be superfluous. This despite the fact that the lad hasn’t put a foot wrong for England, even though he’s been used in a role far different from the one that’s allowed him to be the prime mover for Leeds. So I won’t hold my breath expecting Kalvin to enjoy England glory this summer.
On the face of it, Lord Bamford‘s exclusion from the squad defies all logic and reason and, in his place, I’d be distinctly miffed. And yet we may take some consolation from the fact that our aristocratic striker will benefit greatly from some rest over the summer, and will certainly be motivated by his exclusion to do even better for Leeds next time around.
There’s a case to be made too for Jack Harrison, who must surely have felt that he’d played himself to within an ace of England recognition. But the same problem presents itself – he’s just too Leeds. And for as long as the powers that be in the England setup continue to show a willingness to cut off their noses just to spite their smug faces, then our consistent record of failure over the past 55 years is likely to continue being extended into the forseeable future. And that’s a great shame.
Marching On Together