Oh shite. It's another of those weeks coming up. England have two games between themselves - ourselves? - and World Cup qualification. Try as I might I can't help sensing a dryness at the back of the throat, chrysalises in the belly just bursting with butterflies and, I don't mind admitting, a certain tightening of the ring-piece.
And yet I keep asking myself why. Why, when all England have thrown at us in every tournament since '96 has ranged from inept penalty-taking to inept bleeding everything. Why, when I absolutely know that Hodgson and his squad don't have a Richard Dawkins' prayer of a chance even if they do qualify? Why, when I enjoy it much more after we have made our inglorious/brave/unfortunate exit from the tournament?
Why, when it's just an accident of birth that I am English. And, given the less than binding regulations regarding which country one can represent these days, why don't I just tell everyone I'm Spanish and have done with it? Like Big Sam, who reckons he'd be a tactical genius if his name was pronounced 'Allardici', I too would be held in high regard: Derekinho Robsonez.
But I look down the highlights of the weekend's Premier League matches and suddenly start to imagine England on the brink of a renaissance. Forget that Roy Hodgson is a careful (negative)manager who doesn't so much 'set out his stall' as 'design the whole indoor market complete with good points of access and egress and clearly marked muster points'.
No, England have two strikers in good form: Sturridge and Rooney. They have a solid centre-back pairing, a commanding captain in the deep-lying Gerrard, and a couple of bright young things in Barkley and, if they can drag him out from behind the bike-sheds, Puffin' Jacky Wilshere. Hell there's even that converted tearaway Ravel Morrison looking more than promising now.
(And don't forget Januzaj! Yep, I saw little Adnan only the other day, fish n chips in one hand, B n H in the other, having a good old sing-song around the joanna before settling down to watch Corrie. Aye, he's salt o' the earth that lad.)
On the other hand, the keeper looks capable of diving over a double-decker bus at the moment... and the right-back, whoever he is, has a tendency to get so lost high up the pitch that the other ten have to organise a search party. And James Milner might be playing: Mr Work-Rate. Honestly sometimes I crave a lazy bastard who can actually do something with the football.
But there ought to be the makings of some sort of a team there. And yet... and yet....
...They can't seem to keep the ball. If they could retain the ball like my bladder can retain liquid we'd be laughing. But technically, England are still - what's the word? - SHIT. Never mind keepy-uppies - it'd be good to see our boys start with playing 'keepies'.
The standard of coaching of young footballers in this country is a root cause but don't worry!!! The FA's head of coaching is none other than John Beck. YES, that's John Beck who made Graham Taylor's Watford look like Barcelona. John Beck, who left the corners of the pitch unmown so a big hoof would slow up there, who gave prizes to the lad that could kick it the furthest, who dowsed his players in cold water before a game.
England's footballing youth is in safe hands, eh? For fucking fuck's sake.
So, it appears that my rising anxiety is based upon not evidence but some weird learnt experience. I think it's called 'blind patriotism'. That I should watch England - a hastily assembled bunch of self-interested millionaires - and expect them to lift my spirits like some Olympian distance-runner. Hmmm.
And even if they do get to the Brazil, what is the World Cup anyway? With every passing day it becomes clearer and clearer that the greatest football tournament in the world is one enormous gravy train for the insular and self-serving members of FIFA (Financially-Incentivised Football Administration).
I have this horrible dream that in 2043, the cryogenically-frozen head of Sepp Blatter will be thawed out long enough for him to tell us that World Cup 2056 will be held on... the planet Jupiter.
"Yes" Sepp'll say "there'll be those who doubt that the transport links will be up and running in time. There'll be those who wonder if Jupiter has enough of a football fanbase to create a decent atmosphere. There'll even be those who wonder whether athletes will be able to play football on a gaseous surface, let alone breathe the toxic air. And yes, they may have to play the tournament in mid February to compensate. But there all always nay-sayers and doom-mongers.
But all this faffing around the edges of the Qatar 2022 decision just shows how many vested self-interests are already in place. It was about intelligent decision-making it would never have gone there in the first instance.
Here are three objections that might have been raised at the time:
1. They don't like poofters.
2. They employ slaves.
3. It's too fucking hot.
But if you start including all these factors into your calculations then... well, Russia would have to keep their gobs shut and tolerate homosexuals at the Winter Olympics. And frankly, who exactly do they think is doing most of the ice-skating there, anyway, eh?
Nah, it's a bloody ugly farrago is the World Cup - a great festival of fingers in pies masquerading as a sporting spectacle. I feel soiled just thinking about it, as soiled as a free-thinking person allowing themselves to watch the X Factor (which I did on Saturday night and if there is a priest out there can you get round my house double-quick and absolve me of my sins?)
Yeah, the World Cup is completely and utterly tarnished in my eyes. There's only one thing that can reclaim it from the gutter. That's an England victory!
Come on lads. We can have these Montenegrolians! Brazil here we come! 2-1 on Friday. 3-0 on Tuesday. Job done.