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Owen faces up to the real chance of failure but just can’t help believing

Michael Owen contemplated a nightmare scenario last night. In it he stands on Authentic Prada Handbag Uk the turf prior to kick-off staring steadfastly into the middle distance while the national anthem is drowned out by a chorus of boos, with Wembley in open revolt before a confrontation with Croatia rendered meaningless. Next Wednesday evening, as the England striker is all too aware, that may actually happen.

Owen was in an impossible position yesterday, needing to remain upbeat before tomorrow’s friendly in Austria despite being painfully aware that England’s chances of reaching Euro 2008 may have been dashed by the time they trot out next week. “The idea of not having much to play for in the final game of qualification would be bad to say the least,” he said. “If there wasn’t anything riding on it, it would be a tough night.

“But we’re talking hypothetically. There’s a chance that Israel might get a result [against Russia on Saturday] or that Macedonia do against Authentic Prada Leather Handbag Croatia. We’re clinging to that hope. You don’t want to go out at Wembley with nothing but pride to play for. We’re a proud nation that wants to be competing in all the big tournaments. But, sure, this is a difficult situation.”

It is a situation of Authentic Prada Online Shop England’s own making. It may be too early to contemplate the wreckage of a campaign which has already seen 10 points dropped in a group that hardly deemed daunting, but the squad have sensed the build-up of a backlash. Owen, like Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Phil Neville before him, flung Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Shoes Sale support of Black Leather Prada Milano Purse a kind behind Steve McClaren but the belief persists that the head coach’s position would be utterly untenable should the worst-case scenario be realised.

Owen seemed taken aback at the idea that a group of experienced players might actually petition the Football Association’s chief executive, Brian Barwick replica prada handbags, to urge McClaren’s retention if they felt that strongly. Yet there was, he insisted, respect and admiration for him. “Every player, I’m sure, is fully behind the manager,” said the Black Prada Eyeglass Case Newcastle United striker. “OK, there is no hiding the fact we should be qualifying from this group. I don’t think the manager’s looking for excuses. If Best Prada Outlet In Milan we don’t qualify then he will hold up his hand and say we should have qualified from this group. Everyone will do that.

“But every player would back the manager. He has been with us for a while and we think he is the right man for the job. There is a lot of support for him, he is popular amongst the players, and everyone knows he’s a very good coach. He has the credentials to be a great manager. He is a great manager. I like him personally.

“If you look at the results and performances recently it would suggest he has grown into the job. We were actually going along very nicely with about five 3-0 wins on the spin. Then it came to the crunch against Russia and we all know what happened – a few mad minutes.”

The reality is that England have failed miserably in the three hardest away fixtures, though just as damaging was the goalless draw with Macedonia at Old Trafford. Such sloppiness hardly suggests this side deserve to reach Austria and Switzerland next summer. McClaren may have suffered from injuries and suspensions in his 16-month reign but with the resources at his disposal he should have done better.

With England’s players almost in denial, there was an upbeat mood to training at London Colney yesterday. The talk of upset results for Israel and Macedonia is desperate. “We are Amancio Prada Prada a major force in football,” added Owen. “This campaign has been a disappointment Authentic Prada Handbags Canada but it is not over yet and we have to believe it is not over.

“We are all human. We’ll all be watching the game on Saturday and hoping that the result goes for us. If the other teams go and win their games we’ll have no complaints. We would not have picked up as many points as we should have and will not have deserved to qualify. But we have Authentic Prada Gauffre Bag to prepare for Friday’s game to keep us tuned in. We have to stay positive. If someone did us a favour and we weren’t in the right frame of mind to take advantage on Wednesday, it would be criminal.”