IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to write about the England under twenty-one side again today. We went into the final of the European Championships having won nothing for twenty-five years at this level and forty-three years at senior level.
It was, of course, no surprise that our opponents were Germany. They always are! England will always point to the World Cup final in 1966, the 1-0 win in Euro 2000, the wonderful 5-1 win in the world cup qualifier in 2001 and the 2-1 win in Berlin last year, but the Germans might just mention games in 2007, 2000, Euro 1996, 1991, World Cup 1990, 1987, 1982, 1978, 1974, 1972, and the World Cup 1970. Yes, bragging rights are definitely with the Germans.
At under twenty-one level England have the upper hand with three wins and four draws in their last seven meetings. In fact, the England under twenty-one reserve team held the full strength German side to a 1-1 draw earlier in this tournament.
So there it was, 19.45 BST, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sat in front of my television with my sons and my mate, all wearing England shirts as we rather sadly do on occasions such as this.
England were going to play Theo Walcott in a lone strikerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s role which was nothing to do with tactical planning and all to do with the fact that Gabby Agbonlahor and Fraizer Campbell were suspended and there were no more strikers in the squad.
The only real team selection Stuart Pearce had to make was to decide who would replace the suspended Joe Hart in goal. It would either be Scott Loach of my beloved Watford or Joe Lewis of Peterborough.
The rest of the team picked itself really with a back four of Cranie from Portsmouth, Richards and Onouha from Manchester City with Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal. Captain Mark Noble of West Ham would be joined in the midfield by Muamba of Bolton, Cattermole of Wigan, Milner from Aston Villa and Adam Johnson of Middlesbrough. ArsenalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Walcott would plough a lone furrow ahead of them.
In the end, Stuart Pearce decided to play Scotty Loach in goal and things couldn’t have been better. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that the Watford keeper was playing.
Kick-off came with high excitement in the Fisher household. Being a Watford fan from England, I really do have to make the most of nights like these you know!
The game started with England looking pretty good. Neither side created much but England had the majority of the possession and looked the better side.
The first real chance for either side came just before the half hour when Mesut Ozil slotted the ball through on the blind side of Martin Cranie and Gonzalo Castro slotted the ball past the advancing Loach to give the Germans the lead.
Half-time came with the score at 1-0 and whilst Stuart Pearce won’t have been happy to be behind, he will have seen enough to know that his young men could still turn the game around.
Needing a good start to the second half there seemed little danger when England gave away a free-kick forty yards from goal in the first couple of minutes.
As I watched Mesut Ozil run up to the ball with the obvious intention of shooting, I thought, “wow, that’s a bit ambitious son!”
Indeed, he hit the ball well but straight down the middle of the goal, straight at the Watford custodian Scott Loach. Well, at least it would have been straight at him if he hadn’t dived out of the way before reaching up a fairly pathetic hand and pushing the ball into the net!
Now with the score at 2-0 and no chance of winning, I had to be embarrassed at England’s ineptitude but had the ‘double whammy’ of having to be embarrassed about Watford as well!
England rallied a little and Cattermole hit the bar with a decent strike and then had a header cleared off the line. Adan Johnson should have done better with a chance but in truth, England were never going to get back in the game.
After missing an absolute sitter to make it 3-0 Wagner made amends with a neat finish to bring the Germans their inevitable third goal. This one went through Loach’s legs but I can’t bring myself to say any more.
Wagner added a fourth with a fine strike that I’m pleased to say Loach had no chance of saving and the humiliation of England was complete.
I really thought I might be able to celebrate an England victory in this game but in the end, an embarrassing defeat was suffered. I’m pretty sure I will never get to celebrate an England tournament victory.
I am going to stop wearing my England shirt for these type of games. Actually, no I’m not. Come on England!