LONDON - Expectation, hype and disappointment. Three words sum up England in almost every World Cup since they won the trophy for the only time on home soil in 1966.
While a semifinal showing - in Italy in 1990 - and reaching the quarterfinals in 2002 and 2006 would satisfy many other countries, it is not something that keeps their own fans happy.
England, and the England fans, expect better.
Why they do is a question for another day. The fact is that they do and having clinched qualification for the finals with a couple of matches to spare, hopes are growing that Fabio Capello's men can win the trophy in South Africa.
After the embarrassment of not qualifying for the 2008 European Championships, Steve McClaren paid the price and was replaced as coach by Capello, whose club record around Europe is second to none.
Having marched through their qualifying group, they appear to be in good shape and there is no shortage of people lining up to say that England can win the World Cup.
In the end, whether or not they succeed will depend on the players, of course and on paper, they have a strong squad with a strong spine: David James, captain John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney.
Capello will be determined to avoid any hints of complacency this time around with England drawn against the United States, Algeria and Slovenia which even the most wary of observers would grant is a tasty offering for any top-class side.
Fabio Capello arrived in England with a reputation for strong management and as a tough disciplinarian.
The Italian's track record was untouchable - league titles with AC Milan, Juventus, Roma and Real Madrid - and he was given carte blanche to get things right with an England side that failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championships. His tactical nous has shown itself in results.
For all the world-class players that Sir Alex Ferguson has had at Manchester United, by the time he retires, the name of Rooney could well be regarded as his best-ever purchase. Together with Gerrard, Rooney is the heart of the side. A tireless worker, he is much faster than he is given credit for, is a great finisher and an unselfish partner in attack. - Sapa-DPA