Anyone needing a short illustration of the expectation problem that surrounds England need only look at these Alan Shearer quotes. Alan gets gloomy - almost maudlin - over one of the weakest and most unsettled England squads in years.
"I think it's the first time I can remember when we've gone into a tournament without huge expectations."
"We didn't even have a manager or a coach a month ago and we've had a lot of injuries."
Which is a welcome change coming from one of the dumbest chauvinist-cum-cheerleaders around. But pushed to make a prediction, Alan thinks...?
"I think maybe a semi-final position for England."
So injury-ravaged, under-prepared England to match their best ever European Championship campaign. What would Shearer have predicted with a fully-fit, suspension free squad? England to win in the final then go back and beat everyone again just to be sure?
His sage verdict on the Rio Ferdinand issue is that "Every manager has the right to pick who he wants and who he doesn't want." I hope Ruud Gullit saw that and enjoyed a hollow laugh or two.