The England football team will be totally lacking in enthusiasm when they take on an in-form French side in their Euro2012 opener in Donetsk tonight, and will, predictably, end up bowing out of the tournament early, says a football pundit.
Moys Kenwood, a fan of Championship Hull City, says that, unlike representing other national teams, which foreign players regard as the ultimate honour, playing for England is a cumbersome burden that most of them cannot bear. The pressure heaped upon them by, most notably, the Press, is so intense, that most are unable to reproduce their club form in the international arena.
Kenwood said to me during breakfast:
"England players lose any enthusiasm they might have the moment the shirt goes on. What should be an inspirational talisman becomes a heavy yoke, the weight of which acts to suppress their self-expression, rendering them useless, ineffective automatons, going through the motions of 'passing along the back four', laboriously huffing and puffing away to no avail, and lacking any kind of creativity."
Then he got on with his Corn Flakes.
Later, at the bus stop, he told me:
"I'm sorry to keep banging on about this, but the way the nationals of other countries perform way above their expected ability levels when they represent their country, is in complete contrast to the way the England lads perform. Foreign players embrace the opportunity to shine on the international stage, play with style and exuberance, and do not waste what may be their one-and-only chance to star in front of a world audience.
"English players look like they have been Press-ganged into appearing, carted off from their families to some far-off foreign land, and fed only on bread and water for the duration of their enforced trip. They have the air of Sunday League hoofers who can't wait to get back on the bus to their local pub or hostelry for a comforting pint and a packet of crisps."
Then the bus came, and we got on it.
To ram his point home, whilst washing the pots after his tea, Kenwood rasped:
"I sometimes think English players resent being selected. Being called-up for the national squad has all the attraction of catching a dose of Gonorrhea! I can accept that we never win anything (that is, using the word 'never' specifically as an adverb of frequency rather than to say that, up to this point in history, England have never WON anything), but at least the team could play as if they were enjoying it. Show a bit of mettle; approach the game as if we were going to win; shrug off the negative attitude of the Press - in short, go out and play their normal game. Then we might win something!"
Then he went and watched TV.