Betfred Sport

Can Gerrard be England's main man at Euro 2012?

'Twas the night before New Year's Eve, and Liverpool fans gathered expectantly at Anfield.

The visitors were Newcastle, the surprise package during the early part of the season.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Captain fantastic - aka Steven Gerrard - is back.

And just in time too. England expects, and Gerrard has plenty of preparation time for what all of the nation's fans hope will be their finest hour since 1966.

England fans are an optimistic bunch. They also have split personalities when it comes to their fiercely patriotic support of their country's football team.

It's all about heart v head when it comes to supporting England. A common thought pattern for the fans is to expect the worst - the disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign being the current benchmark.

But somewhere deep within the subconscious of the mind is a belief that maybe, just maybe, England could do it. And post mortems of England fans have often revealed a heart with a curious St George's flag look about it.

Straw clutching

It's there within all England supporters, that hope - however much of the straw clutching variety it is - that we really could pull off the unthinkable and, during London Olympics year, be a proud and world beating footballing nation once again.

Baddiel and Skinner missed a trick by failing to capitalise on the 'Now that's what I call music' success formula. A slight change in the lyrics to Three Lions and they could have had a sequel every two years. In 1998, the lyric would have been "32 years of hurt" and so on.

'46 years of hurt' 

It will take some doing to keep up with the prolific production line at the 'Now that's what I call music' factory (I have children, so I know about this) but next year, they could have been up to the latest "46 years of hurt" version.

Unlike the makers of the 'Now' series, England fans won't want this particular sequence continuing for too much longer.

The 2012 European Championships could be Gerrard's finest moment. Once again, against Newcastle, the returning Liverpool skipper showed what he is capable of with a 78th minute strike to secure victory.

And even Bellamy's still got it

It was a good night all round for the Reds. Craig Bellamy showed he can still do the business with a double strike and Liverpool even managed to score all four goals on the night. And, in something of a rarity in any game these days, there was not a single yellow or red shown to a single Red.

The result left Liverpool in fifth place, level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea. Who said the Reds don't have what it takes to bring Champions League football back to Anfield next season?

On the subject of Friday football, a side that looks on course to be playing those teams next season slipped up at home, as Championship strugglers Bristol City won 1-0 at leaders Southampton.

The result left the Saints leading the Championship by three points from West Ham and Middlesbrough, having played a game more than their current main rivals for automatic promotion.

By Mark Roach 

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