Football has gone crazy this week. Manchester City got rich and Robinho got signed, there was Alan Curbishley and Kevin Keegan’s decision to leave their posts, and the whole Dimitar Berbatov saga. What we need to settle things down is a return to normality.
And what could be more routine than England struggling to beat a small footballing nation. If the footballing nation in question is a team of amateurs, that is even better. It is a grand tradition: every person you hear talking about the match, from the people in the office, to the man down the pub, to the pundits on TV tell you that England are hot favourites for a big win. What generally follows is usually embarrassment for England or a much narrower win than the one predicted.
Step forward, Andorra, tomorrow’s opponents. The question is: will England draw a line under football’s week of madness by finally playing to their potential or is there more craziness to follow?
There is something about the sort of matches which England should win, which always causes them to struggle. If it came down to Luxembourg or Brazil, you would probably fancy England’s chances against the Brazilians more.
This barmy week has coincided with a change of mood in the England camp. Fabio Capello’s honeymoon period is well and truly over and an England performance anywhere near as bad as the one under Steve McClaren when England and Andorra last met in Barcelona could see the fans and the tabloids turn against him. The inclusion of the likes of Jimmy Bullard is a signal of intent and a message to the fans that Capello can see what has been missing in his side in recent matches.
Whatever way you look at it, England should comfortably beat Andorra. The England side is full of Champions League winners, the Andorra side is full of insurance salesmen. It is not unrealistic to expect an England win. Capello’s first competitive match should indicate whether the players have progressed under his management — whether he has instilled a winning mentality. But this week anything could happen.