Simon Kelner: Everyone knows England won't win, so we just might

Kelner's view

Share

At the end of this most English of celebrations, we now know what it feels to be French. The French calendar is stuffed full of bank holidays – among them, Ascension Day, Bastille Day and Assumption – and many of them, it seems to me, are rounded up into four-day breaks.

This makes it all the more impressive that their productivity levels are still higher than ours, but, at the end of this, the shortest working week of the year, I'd like to offer an optimistic thought that will particularly cheer those for whom getting one over on the French is, so to speak, a raison d'être.

I am not the world's most reliable pundit – a glance at my profit and loss account with the Tote will testify to this – but I'd like to make a bold prediction: England will do very well in the European Football Championships which start today. They may not take the trophy but I have a sneaking feeling that this most unfancied of squads will restore pride in our national team.

And their secret weapon? The Queen! The single most important factor in establishing the platform for success in Poland and Ukraine has been the lack of hype surrounding our footballers' chances. The truth is that we just haven't had the time, what with the Diamond Jubilee taking up all our reserves of hullabaloo and hoopla.

We can't be concentrating on Danny Welbeck when there's Sir Cliff Richard to worry about. And what's Gareth Barry's groin strain set against the Duke of Edinburgh's bladder?

Clearly, we can concentrate on only one thing at a time, and the Euros have crept up on us almost unnoticed. Quick! Take down the Union Flag and replace it with the Cross of St George! Oh, no point in bothering, we're not going to win it anyway. That's the spirit! Compared with the last two World Cups, when it was only a formality that this gilded generation of English footballers would return with the trophy, when they carried the burden of a nation's expectation on their shoulders and found themselves petrified as a result, it's much better we do it this way. No one expects us to do anything but fail.

A very good friend summed up the mood of a nation in an email yesterday in which he told me he's having major surgery next week. "Should just about be coming round from the anaesthetic," he wrote, "as England slide out... glad to be out of it." What better gift can we present Roy Hodgson and his men than a complete lack of faith?

England play the French on Monday and, as well as not being able to compete with their lack of productivity, we certainly can't match their class. But this is the year when, on the football field at least, reputation and pedigree have counted for nothing against a well-organised unit with a strong team ethic who are not expected to prevail.

This may be England's year. And you read it here first!

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions