Once again the mighty media machine that are the English tabloid newspapers has fuelled the country with hopes and dreams of their national team winning Euro 2004.
And once again, the team fails to live up to these expectations, and are put outof the tournament.
It's a symptom - from my Scottish point of view, anyway - of the arrogance of the English state and mindset, a hangover form the days of the Empire that the lowest common demoninator papers have never forgotten. I still remember the xenophobic hysteria provoked by The Sun et al during the 1996 tournament, both before and after England were beaten in the semi finals by Germany.
And tomorrow those same papers that were claiming the team as national heroes will begin the deconstruction of those stars: Beckham missed a penalty, Sven Goran Eriksson got his tactics wrong, Rooney got injured and was subbed (but he's okay, he'll be blameless), Phil Neville was allowed on the pitch...
A myriad of reasons will be given, a multitude of blames applied...and they'll never get to the point of admitting that their team just isn't good enough. Even in these times, when once mighty footballing nations like Germany and Italy are falling foul of the inevitable encroachment of mediocrity, England are - at best - an average side, fuelled by one single past glory, and the memorys of an Empire long gone.
Britain once straddled the world like a colossus, and now the Empire is a Commonwealth in name only. England - the football team - won the World Cup almost forty years ago, thanks in part to home field advantage and legendarily dodgy refereeing. But the tabloids continually pump the English people full of nonsense, making them believe that this one and only tournament victory gives them the right to turn up at these championships and win! They've never even made another final!
After all, Uruguay won the first two World Cup tournaments - how feared are they on the world stage? This much --> not very.
It's a shame too, because England could have a great side, but the tabloids pick the team for the manager. Rooney (the new Pele my fucking arse) is a victim of his own hype, as was Micheal Owen before him, and David Beckham (though he's done very well out of it financially, and marrying a pop "star" certainly didn't hurt) is far from the player the tabloids want him to be.
Still, there's always World Cup 2006.