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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Reasons to be cheerful
By Tom Fordyce

OK - you're feeling flatter than a pancake that's been parked under an elephant's ass for the last week.

That's only natural. Sunday night's defeat to France was the sort of blow that could crush the strongest of characters.

But all is not lost. There is hope on the horizon. Things are nowhere near as bad as they seem...

1. IT AIN'T OVER YET

Hey - it's only the first group game!

Romeo Beckham cries
Romeo Beckham feels the pain of Daddy's missed penalty

Sure, when Zidane's second goal went in, the bottom fell out of your stomach and all that pre-tournament optimism disappeared with it.

Make no bones about it - the vibes were harsh.

But let's keep things in perspective. It's not the knock-out stage. England can still qualify.

Got it? England can still reach the final. Hell, they can still win it!

It's just going to be a little bit harder now, that's all.

2. WHO'S SCARED OF THE REST?

So England are bottom of Group B. Having looked like they were going to top it. Ouch.

But wait. Are you really saying that you saw anything in the Switzerland-Croatia match to scare you?

France needed two England errors and Zidane's genius to deny England. Neither Switzerland or Croatia have anyone in Zidane's class, and Steven Gerrard will never hit a back-pass like that again.

We hope.

3. IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE

Recall for a moment the way you felt when the final whistle went on Sunday.

Then consider for a moment how you would be feeling if that had been the final. Put yourself in the slip-on shoes of an Italian fan after France pulled off a similar trick to win Euro 2000.

Hmmm. Suddenly it's not quite so bad, is it?

4. HISTORY LESSON, PART ONE

At Euro '96, the Czech Republic fell to a 2-0 defeat by Germany in their opening group game.

They went on to reach the final. See the logic?

5 HISTORY LESSON, PART TWO

At the 1988 European Championships, Holland lost their opening game to the USSR.

They still went on to reach the final - met the USSR again, and spanked them 2-0.

Like that logic even better?

6. DEADLY LEDLEY

Twenty-four hours ago, you were sobbing into your hands about the prospect of Thierry Henry running at an England defence shorn of Rio Ferdinand, Jonathan Woodgate and John Terry.

This morning, you're hailing the emergence of a young centre-back who bossed the most feared striking partnership in the world.

All hail the new King!

7. FROM DESPAIR TO JOY

As the great Roman poet Horace once wrote, "Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant."

A disappointed England fan after defeat by France
"What just happened there?"

What the old boy was trying to say was this: relax - we'll put five past the Swiss.

Comfort can also be found in the writings of other great literary figures - such as 1980s hair-metallers Poison.

"Every rose has its thorn/ Just like every night has its dawn," they famously told us.

"Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song/ Every rose has its thorn."

Sweet words indeed.

8. ROLL OVER, ROBSON

Not since Kevin Keegan's infamous foot-in-mouth antics at the World Cup in 1998 have the mockers been so successfully placed on England by a television co-commentator.

Bobby Robson, having spent most of the match sounding as if he was drifting off into an early-evening doze, blew Keegan out of the water with a succession of crazy comments as England entered the final moments with a precious lead.

"Whatever happens now, we can't throw this away," he said, or words to that effect, as around the country fans listened with mouth-opened horror.

Bosh - in clattered Heskey, up stepped Zidane and in went the equaliser.

The good news? Sir Bobby won't be in the commentary box for the final group game against Croatia. Or the quarter-finals, should England get there.

Which should mean we're in a hex-free zone. Unless he does the same again against Switzerland...

9. ROONEY ON THE RAMPAGE

Without wanting to sound like Tim Henman after semi-final defeat at Wimbledon, you've got to look at the positives after a set-back like this.

And what could be more positive that the sight of an 18-year-old England striker rampaging through what was meant to be one of the top defences in world football?

We all knew Wayne Rooney was special. But that run which led to the penalty - it was like watching the teenage, pre-porky Ronaldo in full flow.

If the Roonster was doing that against the French, what the hell is he going to do against the creaking Swiss?

10. IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE, PART TWO

At least France are the reigning European champions, the side with the best record in qualifying and a team ram-jammed with stellar talent.

Imagine if England had been beaten by Greece, a team who had never before won a game in a major finals.

Or - deep intake of breath - Germany...





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