Alternative Euros: Football's Coming Home, Part 5

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Yes, we're almost at the Euros. It may feel like it's taken us thirty years of hurt just to get to this point in the story, but in this episode the pre-tournament will be served up speedily to allow us to move to the main event. My squad, which crucially contains none of England's real-life squad, has bonded together well, but how will they face up to ze Germans?

Find Part 1 in which little happens herefind Part 2 where we vanquish the Lithuanians and Slovenians herefind Part 3 where we somewhat impressively take down Switzerland here and feast your eyes on Part 4 here where the Euros' group stages are drawn. Here is my incontrovertibly impressive squad selection to take on Germany in another goddamn friendly.
Luke Steele of Panathinaikos is called upon because he is a goalkeeper who is playing regularly without making an embarrassment of himself. Obviously I hope he never has to play in a competitive fixture for us, but with John Terry organising the defence in front I'm sure we could handle it breezily.
Danny Welbeck is also back from injury, which excites me in the trousers region. I'm now blessed with a raft of attacking talent that I consider comparable to our squad in reality. How would Jamie Vardy get in this squad when he is contending with a fit Callum Wilson and Danny Welbeck? Exactly.

I send us out in a classic Hodgson style 4-2-3-1, with John Terry partnering Phil Jones in central defence, Luke Shaw operating on the wing in front of Aaron 'Lionel Cressi' Cresswell and Andy Carroll getting the nod up top to hold the ball up for the Ox in the hole. 

Germany line up in a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Dominik Brink the dangerman behind the striker, oh CRAP. I forgot to do that thing where you delete the thing that stops all the Germans from having fake names. So it's time for the not-so-classic encounter between England and Fake Germany. I'm having horrible flashbacks to playing against Man Red on Pro Evolution Soccer.

When you forget to fix Germany's player names.
Fake Germany capitalise on home advantage in just four minutes, the great Mario Alsdorf nipping into the box to spank one into the bottom corner. Damian Klinger is causing us all sorts of problems on the wing and I don't know how to deal with it because I'm still trying to work out who he is. Oskar Eichhorn, whose attributes look suspiciously like Manuel Neuer's, is wholly untested in the first half. We don't just struggle to get a foothold, we don't even come close to putting our foot anywhere even slightly stable. 

At half-time I shake things up, Hodgson style. I have strikers in my squad and I'm going to bloody use them. We revert to my classic 5-3-2, with Welbeck just behind Wilson and Rodriguez. It takes just eighty seconds of the second half for us to muster our first shot of the match (yep, we were that bad), but Wilson gets Cresswell's teasing cross on target to power home the equaliser. Fake Germany still have control of the possession, but twenty minutes later the other wing-back Joel Ward rampages forward to cross for Wilson in a mirror image of our first goal. I can scarcely believe that we're leading, so when Ward bursts into the box to smash in another I have to pretend that my virtual self is pinching himself just to ensure that this virtual reality is actually real for those who inhabit it. You heard me. 

Alsdorf instantly sets up an easy finish for Brink to bring Fake Germany within one goal, but we hold on for dear life and survive. We had 6 shots to their 20, 36% possession to their 64%, a team average rating of 7.08 to their 7.48. Stats schmats. Wolf Bastian, Torge Schug, Berti Frick, Damian Klinger, your boys took one hell of a beating.

The fans celebrate a 'lucky' victory against the Fake Germans, and I will concede that we did not exactly dominate in our 3-2 triumph. But winning in Germany is a sure sign that we are a force to be reckoned with. England winning 3-2 in Germany?! Where have I heard this before?

138.com publish their odds for lifting the trophy in France. Spain are favourites at 2/1, with Fake Germany, Italy, France, Holland and Portugal trailing in their wake in that order. Our odds? 66/1. 66. It's a sign. We're going to win the Euros and we're going to have 36% possession while we do it. 

It's time to select my squad for France. I was kept up at night pondering whether to cut Ryan Shawcross or Steve Cook. Difficult decisions were made. But you can't win the Euros with a squad of 29 players. You just can't. Here's my final squad:

Luke Steele. Ryan Shawcross. Jack Cork. Andy Carroll. Their burly shoulders will carry football home. 
Welbeck was struck down by injury before the tournament, ultimately saving me from having to cut him. As much as I fantasise about spending time in Parisian restaurants having existential conversations with Welbeck bathed in candlelight, I couldn't dispose of the physical Carroll, the powerful Rodriguez, the unpredictable Berahino, the worker Ings or the clinical Wilson. 

There are three more matches to power through before we jump on the ferry to France. In a boring friendly not worth wasting more than a sentence on, Danny Ings breaks Ukrainian hearts in a 1-0 victory. Our 3-2 spectacle against Bosnia-Herzegovina is more entertaining fare. Albrighton and Berahino's goals are cancelled out but Callum 'Harry Who?' Wilson pounces for the winner. We face Cristiano Ronaldo in our final warm-up match, who promptly scores within six minutes. Jack Cork flicks in an equaliser to give us a positive result heading to France. In what has become true England fashion in my reign, we do not have more than 50% possession in any of those matches. This bodes fantastically.

Next time: the Euros actually start to happen! Will we get off to a winning start against Slovenia? Will we crash out in the group stage to make this series a waste of everyone's time? Will we dominate possession ever? All signs point to no.  


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Football Manager 2017 Blog: Alternative Euros: Football's Coming Home, Part 5
Alternative Euros: Football's Coming Home, Part 5
My alternative England team are almost ready to head to France, but first there is the small matter of a friendly against Fake Germany.
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Football Manager 2017 Blog
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