My delight over England’s demolition of Croatia was assuaged by my disappointment at the news from Windsor Park.
I just don’t see Slovenia failing to beat San Marino. The runners-up spot is beyond us, gone.
Flag-waving next summer must be restricted to the Republic — I strongly fancy their chances if they get a ‘kind’ play-off – or England.
And England, under Capello, represent a far bigger threat than they ever did under Eriksson or under that ‘wally with the brolly’.
I always felt uneasy about that excess of nationalism and optimism — it’s heading our way again — that preceded major tournaments built as it was on the prospects of the so-called golden generation.
But the discipline and organisation under Capello makes me think again.
One example will suffice.
I was amongst those that said you had to choose between Gerrard and Lampard, that they couldn’t play ‘together’: well, not left to their own devices.
But the Italian coach ‘restrains’ Lampard and ‘frees’ Gerrard.
Now, instead of tripping over each other’s toes, they compliment one another.
With nine months for even more improvement, watch out for England.