England are not always so reliable. They lost all three games at Euro 88

England are not always so reliable. They lost all three games at Euro 88

02-Jul-2021 07:00:30 | The Guardian

In an extract from his book Silver Linings, about Bobby Robson’s time in charge of England, David Hartrick remembers the team’s dire showing at Euro 88

Sporting success or failure is often a moveable feast. One person’s miserable collapse is another’s glorious victory. These boundaries move with the times too. In modern football we are getting used to ethereal concepts like “winning” a transfer window. Actual results are the only quantifiable measure but even they can’t always be trusted to tell the full story. In 1988 England lost every game of their European Championship. Definable failure. Also barely half of what happened. Context, as ever, is all.

For a start they found themselves in a group with two teams who would play out the final and a side on the cusp of becoming the greatest in their country’s history. England’s first game was a cup tie and they realised too late. The second was a match against a generational XI with a player in era-defining form. They then drifted through their third as ghosts, unable to qualify and consumed only with thoughts of the plane home.

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Related: When England turned up at Aylesbury United for a pre-Euro 88 friendly | Barry Glendenning

Related: Bobby Robson: the gentle master who remains a giant of English football

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