If you believe what's pumped out of the football family's haggard PR machine then the FIFA World Cup brings people together like no other sporting festival. And who can argue with them? Just look at the way its consolidated Brazil's impoverished population against the grotesque $11 billion bill (and counting). If unions were legal in Qatar it'd probably united the workers there too.
Here in England it remains to be seen whether we'll experience the insatiable camaraderie that is so sentimentally painted for us by laddish beer adverts. Let's hope so - there's not enough pissed strangers hugging each other in the streets, cars tooting erratically, three lions on a shirt blaring out. The feel good factor is a rarity with the England national team, the line between hope and despair so often crossed too quickly. But there's one regrettable phenomenon which inevitably rears its ugly head in the build up to every international tournament - the rise of the'it's our year brigade'.
You've probably met a few members of this repellent club already. Understandably (and thankfully) there have been less this year than normal, but as we hurtle towards England's opener they will propagate and pervade discussions with all the efficacy of a crap Ladbible joke. These aren't the people with an inkling that we might do well, or those who remain hopeful that we can at least reach a semi-final. These are the fools who act like messengers from God, proclaiming with absolute certainty that, yes, this is in fact most definitely is our year.
They are Piers Morgan's vuvuzela, Leighton Baines' guitar and Samir Nasri's pout -a maudlin, piano-pop world cup song performed by a Mumford & Sons inspired Gary Barlow and a colony of Twitter 'in the knows'. They laugh at Paddy Power PR stunts and pine for the return of Andy Gray and Richard Keys. They've already completed their Panini sticker albums and told you about it four times. Created in the image of Sepp Blatter, they will taint any England victory with all the arrogance and vanity of his 'United Passions' biopic.
There is a clear distinction between faithful support and whatever it is that these people channel. At the time of writing England were priced at a very generous 28/1. It hardly reeks of assurance. The ability to so confidently overlook the heat, the classic group of death, a history of mental capitulation and Rooney's ongoing impotence is as aggravating as it is delusional. Blindly asserting that "we're gonna do it" and "this is definitely our year" is stupid, tedious and wholly unrealistic. So why say it?
It could be self-deception of Bendtneresque proportions or attention seeking borne out of insecurity and a lack of 'football knowledge'. My guess: the 'it's our year brigade' are the Frankenstein of a Premier League-centric ideology which has convinced them that this is the greatest footballing nation in the world. Fuelled by lad culture, dick-swinging and some very potent banter, it's given birth to a band of hubristic, flag-waving bantersauri.
Somewhere along the lines confidence has become synonymous with a warped sense of masculinity. These guys have taken this notion and run with it. Their ludicrous assertions about England's expected triumph are the world cup equivalent of drinking a pint of your mate's vomit whilst stripping off naked on the dance floor.
They are already an unbearable breed, but should we triumph this badge of belief will be worn for life, with all the smugness and irrelevance of a driver who passed first time. So much of football is now about ownership and these cretinous fiends will shamelessly appropriate an improbable England triumph into a personal achievement. And they will not hesitate to remind you of it.
Of course England can win the world cup and aside from a sustained period of jingoistic outpouring there's no real reason why I wouldn't want this to happen. Many will tell you they wouldn't be surprised if we did, after all stranger things have happened. But if you find yourself telling people that "this is our year and it's definitely going to happen because you just know" or something to that effect, then stop, step off your podium of conceit and ask yourself why you are saying this. Quite simply the odds that it's because you're a massive dick are far shorter than 28/1.