It has been suggested in some quarters that my detailed forecasts of the results, and certain incidents, in Group D (for Dire) at the World Cup, as exclusively revealed through this column, may have been less than entirely accurate in all respects. [I didn't write all the bits attributed to me, for a start: Ed]
Let us examine the cold facts without emotion or prejudice. We predicted England would fail to qualify from the group and this was indeed the case. We were not totally accurate in predicting the fate of the other members of the group but we did predict, entirely accurately, that the two qualifiers would not include England amongst their number, and who can possibly want more? It was in any case much hotter / more humid / wetter / windier / balmier / colder / than anyone had a right to expect, the grass doesn't make the ball bounce in the way that we are used to in Europe (according to a Mr. R Podgeson, apparently the manager of one of the sides) and England with all of their physios, nutritionists and psychologists omitted to bring two obvious essentials in the form of a dentist and a lawyer, thus putting themselves at an enormous disadvantage when facing the Uruguyan Chomper.
Yes, I admit that Costa Rica, far from losing all three games, won two and drew the other but you can't expect Johnny Foreigner to play by the rules. England showed how this game should really be played with plenty of back-passes, nice big gaps in the defence and a desire, when going forward, to find the man surrounded by the opposing centre-backs rather than the man running into space. Oh, as as many shots wide or over the bar as possible. I mean, we're English after all. We don't do accurate shooting. We don't want to inconvenience their goalie. We always let the other chaps score first, as a rule, then go for a gentlemanly draw with no hard feelings. It's really jolly beastly of them when they score again and win the match.
So, in conclusion, this column stands proud and unashamed [er, this may need rewording for the oh-so-sensitive American market: Ed] and to prove it, here is our exclusive you-saw-it-here-first predictions for the European Championships 2016.
England to do jolly well, up to a point, and then not to.