Jose Mourinho has predicted “pessimistic” England to beat Tunisa in Volgograd on Monday night but believes beating the North African side won’t be easy.
England have only won their opening game at a major tournament once in seven occasions – a 1-0 win over Paraguay in 2006.
Speaking on RT ahead of the game, Mourinho expressed doubts about England’s attitude going into the finals but predicted they would win their opening game.
There is a Mourinho quote which has always stuck with me – one which strikes at the heart of why England teams end up playing the role of neurotic bystanders, there to quiver and huff and puff and ultimately fall apart, at major tournaments.
“England,” he said, “is the kind of team where I am always expecting something good, but I am never surprised when things go wrong.
“In every country I know – especially my own country [Portugal] – people live football in a very emotional way. Normally, the press is critical, because everybody has an opinion. The moment the team is chosen and the competition is next door, everybody is together.
“No more critics. Everyone supports, even if you don’t agree. Because for a month, the team is a team. I’m not so sure, with the mentality in this country [England], people are ready to go in this direction.”
And therein lies the “pessimism” mentioned by the 54-year-old. Do we as a country have the capacity to hold back our cynicism, our doubts and our natural penchant for piss-taking, and merely support for the next two weeks? The mood around that England team, and most importantly their body language on the pitch, would no doubt for the better if we could.
But then again, Raheem Sterling got a tattoo and bought a house for his mother, so he deserves to be sent home and have effigies of him razed to the ground.