England kick-started the process of banishing any memory of their dismal World Cup with a fine victory over Switzerland that got their Euro 2016 campaign off in the best possible way.
Supporting England can sometimes be more of a chore than an enjoyable past-time, but millions of us still tune in and the Switzerland match was actually a decent game. But haven't we been here before? Remember that unbeaten World Cup qualifying campaign and the dispiriting result it led to? And having beaten their nearest rivals in an easy-looking group where the top two teams automatically qualify, is it job done already? Probably.
England's road to France looks plain and simple, so why not spend the hours you would be watching them break down minnows Slovenia and Estonia doing something more productive? Skim through this handy prediction of what will (probably) happen.
England's first home match of the campaign against the mighty San Marino is preceded by complaints that it's set to attract the lowest attendance at Wembley for a competitive international match since the stadium was rebuilt. Football fans blame the fact that England are playing the joint-lowest ranked team in the world, while the Daily Mail blames a lack of patriotism. England run out comfortable 5-0 winners with Rooney bagging a hat-trick and talk soon turns to when he'll break Sir Bobby Charlton's England goalscoring record. Will it be this year against Slovenia or next versus Lithuania?
In a 'tricky' tie away to Estonia, England struggle to a narrow victory, but plenty of praise is again heaped on Raheem Sterling who proves pivotal in securing the win. However, an over-reliance on him to always provide 'the spark' starts to creep in.
In England's second hardest group match they fail to impress and eek out a dull 0-0 draw. But don't worry because Sterling and Sturridge still 'look lively'. Unfortunately, despite lighting up the Premier League with 20 goals between them for Liverpool, neither break the deadlock.
Raheem Sterling gets injured in England training. The nation panics. The age-old 'club over country' discussion is rehashed by the media. Thankfully this distracts from the actual game which is a drab 2-0 win over Lithuania. Rooney fails to score.
Sterling effort etc, etc.
Sitting top of the group England are in a good place. A 2-1 defeat away to Slovenia doesn't help, but of course it's because the players are tired. Nobody seems to notice that the Slovenian players have just finished a full season too. Rooney fails to score again and questions arise about his captaincy, Roy Hodgson's leadership and whether the likes of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen should be recalled.
Whoever said 'there are no easy games in football' clearly didn't watch England beat San Marino in their last World Cup qualifying campaign as they run out 7-0 victors here. Not only that, but Rooney finally scores for England in 2015 with four goals, taking him past Sir Bobby Charlton's record.
He is hailed as a national hero/treasure, a knighthood called for and an ITV one-off about his life is quickly stuck together and broadcast the next day. Sir Bobby Charlton himself congratulates Wazza (secretly wishing Yugoslavia had broken up into numerous countries while he was playing so he could've bagged too many for Rooney to catch). England then lose to Switzerland with Rooney anonymous.
A 1-0 victory over Estonia and somehow England are in second place going into the final group game. Needing just a point against Lithuania to secure their place at Euro 2016, it's a nervous encounter, but a Gary Cahill header and shock loss for Switzerland against Estonia mean England finish top. England have made it to Euro 2016 largely unscathed and look forward to rubbing shoulders with the pick from Belarus, Montenegro, Slovenia again and somehow, Israel.
England go off to the Euros and rather than the media being overly optimistic or pessimistic they choose a new tack of just focusing on it being the youngest England squad ever. Alan Hansen's famous comment "you can't win anything with kids" is reiterated thousands of times. Unfortunately, in this case the Scot is right as another quarter-final exit beckons.
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