But didn’t you practice penalties? 0

It amazes me that this question still gets asked whenever England eliminated from an international tournament. Similarly, great lengths are always gone to in order to stress the importance of penalties to a manager before a World Cup or European Championship - and presumably the same will be true for Roy Hodgson over the coming months.

“Will you be practicising penalties, Roy?”

“No, probably not - what’s the point.”

What does anybody expect the answer to that question to be? It’s like asking someone if they’ve got their passport when they’re already in the check-in queue.

“No, I didn’t see the need for it.”

We’re about to enter World Cup silly season, and with it an increasingly banal narrative which is really designed to locate a hook upon which failure can eventually be hung.

In the past, we’ve been very efficient at stock-piling excuses before tournaments even begin. Is there a problem with the hotel? Are their too many distractions or are there not enough? Are the players bored? Are there too many WAGS around? Are there too few?

These aren’t just generic questions, they’re part of a quest for information upon which the post mortem will eventually be built. Never, seemingly, in the history of English football has the national side been eliminated from a competition because they weren’t good enough. Never. The team is always ready to dominate the world but for the interference of a single obstructive outside force: a ‘foreign’ manager maybe, the rogue actions of an individual player, the weather, a referee…etc etc.

There are four months to go before Brazil, let’s get those excuses ready.

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