We thought they were poor, we thought they were underperforming, we thought they were kick and rush merchants from a bygone era, three lions on their shirts, but timid as lambs, and due to fly home, but is this all part of England's masterplan to win the World Cup?
Cast your minds back to 1950, the month is July, and the location is Brazil, and the first post-war World Cup is just getting under way.
England were the early favorites, as a combined Great Britain team had recently beaten the rest of Europe 6-1, and no one seemed to be able to touch them. But did the canny Walter Winterbottom see the opportunity to plant the seeds for a later coup and sacrifice the team's progress for the greater good?
What else could explain their shock 1-0 defeat by the United States?
The plan was in action and after their triumph in 1966 it was time to put the rest of the plan into motion.
England clearly understood that soccer was a psychological game, a mind game, where clever chess like moves were required to manipulate their opponents, and to get them all aligned for the greatest footballing feat in history.
The plan began in earnest in 1970, with a carefully crafted defeat to West Germany.
The England team knew it was going to be hard to lose this game, having already defeated the Germans in 1966, and therefore having the psychological upper-hand. But in a moment of genius, while England were in Colombia for a pre-tournament friendly, Bobby Moore engineered his own arrest, for allegedly stealing a bracelet from a jeweler's shop.
This allowed the England team to hand the advantage to their opponents, and get themselves eliminated from the tournament.
Knowing their standing was still high in the soccer world, they then contrived to fail to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, in order to portray themselves as weak, and having lost their way, before resurfacing for the 1982 World Cup in Spain and were eliminated from the second round without winning a match.
In 1986 they continued with their plan, qualifying for the finals in Mexico, before engineering a defeat to Argentina in the quarterfinals.
They followed this up in 1990, by deliberately missing penalties in the semi-finals to lose to Germany again.
Are you following it so far?
Their next appearance at a World Cup finals was in 1998, where again they contrived to be defeated on penalties, to Argentina again. Then in 2002 they elected to lose to Brazil, before throwing the game against Portugal, to be eliminated from the 2006 World Cup Finals.
So where is the plan, I hear you ask?
Just look at how the draw is shaping up.
1950 - USA?
It was a good opportunity to lull team USA into believing they could earn a result against the canny English team, which allowed England to secure the second place they so coveted, to put their plan into action.
1970 & 1990 - Germany?
Having qualified for the last 16, and now seen as underdogs, their next opponents would be Germany, a team who would now be lulled into a false sense of security, by England's contrived losses to them, in previous World Cups.
1986 & 1998 - Argentina?
Having overcome the Germans, the most likely quarterfinal opponents are Argentina! Who again, having been lulled into a false sense of security will now be easy prey, for a rejuvenated English side.
2006 - Portugal?
Having made it to the semifinals, England's next likely opponents would be Portugal. Are you seeing a pattern here?
2002 - Brazil?
Do I need to spell it out?
The planets have aligned, and a master plan hatched 60 years ago, by Sir Walter Winterbottom CBE, former England manager, and later day Nostradamus, is about to come to fruition!
It's either that or England really have been poor, have been under performing, and are kick and rush merchants, from a bygone era.
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