The 2014 World Cup In Brazil provided little to no satisfaction for English fans – it stands as a tournament that many have tried to deny ever even happened, a frame of mind easily achieved at the time, by staring at the bottom of a pint glass. English fans felt bitterly ashamed and disappointed by the performance of The Three Lions but were England really as bad as we all seem to remember them being?
Speaking at William Hill’s Euro 2016 preview evening, Northern and Republic of Ireland legends Neil Lennon and Ray Houghton suggested that as neutrals, they thought England actually played quite well in their last major tournament.
Lining up alongside Robbie Savage and Sol Campbell on the night, Lennon and Houghton hinted that English fans were guilty of watching the tournament through rose-tinted glasses, making their reaction to England’s exit all the more irrational.
Speaking of England’s chances ahead of Euro 2016, former Ireland international and Liverpool legend Ray Houghton expressed that he didn’t feel Hodgson’s men had been fairly judged on their performance in Brazil:
“They were unfortunate in Brazil, where they were in a tough group. If one or two games, or even one or two incidents went their way, they might have got out of it and who knows how far they could’ve gone.
“As far as the Euros are concerned, Roy Hodgson will be picking his best team, that’s going to win England matches – Russia, Wales and Slovakia – that’s his job now, as a manager, he just needs to pick his best eleven for every game.”
The statement certainly raised a few eyebrows amongst the audience and indeed, it stirred an immediate response from Robbie Savage, who has been extremely vocal about England’s display at the World Cup:
“I disagree with Ray about Brazil… I thought they were woeful.”
But before the Welsh representative had a chance to start his dissection of England’s tournament failings, newly announced Hibernian manager and former Northern Ireland international, Neil Lennon jumped to Houghton’s defence:
“See I disagree with you Robbie, I thought they were good. I honestly thought they played good football in Brazil and were frankly unlucky.
“Roy was able to get away with it two years ago because he did say ‘look, we’re building’ – he can’t say that this time.
“It’s a big tournament for Roy now and I think he’s got the tools to do well.”
Maybe England weren’t quite as appalling at 2014 World Cup as many England fans seems to remember them being. As neutrals with no affinity to English success, Houghton and Lennon are perhaps in a better position to comment on England’s performance in Brazil, free of the emotional bias that comes attached with being a passionate English fan.
However, whilst few can vividly remember the exact match moments where England lost the tournament – everyone remembers the fact that they lost to Uruguay and Italy and could only manage a draw against Costa Rica. The English fans recollection of the tournament goes a long way towards reinforcing the point: performances count for nothing if the result goes against you.