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Like gamblers, England fans still dream

OPINION: This World Cup has made insane addicts out of the lot of us – we believed Gareth Southgate could somehow win it with Jordan Henderson!

12 July, 2018 — By Richard Osley

England boss Gareth Southgate never really seemed to be the most qualified for the job

THE gambler’s fallacy is this: an expectation that something is more likely to happen because it has not occurred for a very long time.

And the definition of madness? Well, that’s said to be keeping on doing the same things while expecting a different outcome.

This World Cup in Russia, then, has made insane addicts out of the lot of us. We are addicted to the dream that in every lifetime we will all get to see, even if it is just once, England win the trophy.

Given that most of the countries in the world have never won the World Cup or even come close to doing so, it may be quite a conceited belief, a sense of misplaced entitlement.

But I think in the back of the majority of our sick minds, as much as we say out loud that we don’t believe 1966 will ever be repeated, there’s a little bit of us, a stupid bit, that believes, and loves believing, that someday it will happen again.

I can hear some of you saying “speak for yourself, I always knew we’d lose”; well thanks, that’s great to know. You must have had a lot of fun knowing with full certainty that England would definitely not succeed.

If your world is cold enough not to believe, if you can’t bring yourself to enter a fantasy realm in which England win the World Cup and imagine the shared delight it would bring so many people, then you are missing out. I already had visions of dancing down Brighton seafront on Sunday evening, singing Three Lions and tweeting endlessly about why Gareth Southgate’s statue should already be in production.

Of course, this admittedly stupid bit of brain wiring means that nights like England’s defeat against Croatia remain maddeningly painful, because history should be the perfect shock absorber. Idiots like me still expect a different outcome even though I’ve explained to myself during moments of clarity – and actually several times in this column – why it was always almost certainly going to hit a brick wall eventually.

It was not exclusive commentary to say in this spot that Gareth Southgate is a thoroughly nice chap but never really seemed to be the most qualified for the job; that England had scored the easiest draw imaginable and that nobody had really tested the defence, as good as the centre backs seemed to be at scoring goals at the other end of the pitch. It’s all very well saying this all again in hindsight.

It was all very well when some of us said it at the time, but I somehow still believed there could be a different outcome even as I wrote it. That Southgate could somehow win the World Cup with Jordan Henderson!

Surely it was our turn, our chance?

No? Maybe next time.

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