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Shropshire Star comment: Come on England, bring tonic

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

You may not have World Cup fever yet, but from today the temperature will start rising.

And you know how these things tend to turn out, the one World Cup in which nobody really makes any serious pretence that England will win could turn out to be the time they do win and replicate those epic feats of 1966.

There is a lot to be said for taking the pressure off, and may England play free from the fear of failure and unleash their talents.

The game has changed immensely since the days of Bobby, Nobby, Geoff, and co, and so has the World Cup. It used to showcase the exotic talents of players from around the globe who strutted their stuff to a new global audience. Nowadays you don't have to wait for a World Cup to come around to see them. Many of them are playing week in, week out, in the domestic Premier League.

Then there are the teams who surprised us all with their delightful or revolutionary style. Remember the "total football" of the Dutch and their ball-hunting, when an opponent with the ball would look up and, so it seemed, find himself surrounded by the entire Dutch team?

The internationalism of coaching and management has spread the secrets and systems, so it is rare these days to find anybody doing anything really different.

Gareth Southgate has already played a blinder in keeping down unrealistic expectations. The fact that tensions between the United Kingdom and Russia are as bad as they have been since the Cold War is also taking off some of the usual gloss.

But we have here an opportunity which goes beyond sport.

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The World Cup is good for business, and a good run for England would be a real tonic. With a lot of reasons for gloom on the High Street, our towns are looking forward to a bit of buzz, buzz of the right sort, giving an uplift to pubs and shops and sustaining a party mood.

Like it or not, there is going to be some drinking going on, either on World Cup nights out, or in front of the telly at home with a few cans from the supermarket. It goes without saying that this should be done responsibly.

And as in recent tournaments England has tasted some embarrassing lows, maybe fans will be better prepared to ride out any disappointments without doing anything that shames the nation.

Still, there's no harm in hoping for the best.

Come on England!

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