I'm cut up over England not getting to Euro 2008. I worry that English football journalism will proceed, next summer, to pretend like the tournament doesn't exist. Time for me to get cracking on that Teach Yourself Italian course to be able to scan La Gazzetta with ease, I guess.
Here's hoping ESPN don't revise their match schedules, at least.
England really don't have an excuse. Like everyone else annoyed with football imperialism I'm tempted to call it a moral come-uppance for their overblown reputation, but an overblown reputation is a symptom - it can explain away disappointment, not failure. It's arguable that any of Western Europe's reputationally advanced teams, young Germany excepted, really deserve to be in this tournament anyway. Spain were pathetically disinterested until two matches ago; France twice ripped through the Faroe Islands but were anonymous otherwise; Italy did what Italy always does, which is just about enough on the day [I'm prepared to admit not everyone finds Andrea Pirlo good enough reason to automatically treat any team he plays in as a miracle of art, although I won't claim to understand such blindness]. And yet they're all there, up to and including the stuffed-with-talent but gormless Portugal, and the always exciting but criminally coached Holland. The points table does their reputations some service, after all.
I'm afraid of the 'Playstations and X-Boxes have done this to our youth' excuse, at least partly because I think it may be true. It may be an unfounded fear to imagine that this is a byproduct of economic and social development: after all, what are the odds that France and Spain don't sell game consoles by the n? Can the collapse of the Italian economy really relate to the annually burgeoning number of children who are entering the calcio youth system there [Pause to imagine a scenario where thousands of Italian infants rip open their presents eagerly on Xmas day expecting a Nintendo Wii and finding instead a note that says, 'Buon natale! My industry is in a state of financial ruin, making all electronic frivolities a luxury for us. Maybe next year. Love Papa.' and a bus pass to the nearest football school attached. Clutch at heart in bittersweet sympathy. Cheer kid on to 2018 World Cup glory.]? When the developed world finally reaches a point where every kid who wants a gaming device will be able to afford it, are all national teams going to be like England?
Obligingly, history and economics - and football, really - appear to be more complicated. There's hope for us all. It may even mean that there's hope for England.