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The Gordon Hill column: What to expect from the Euros

Well another football tournament is upon us and this time it’s the Euros, and we are all wondering what will they bring and what surprises we are going to see.

What initially surprised me was that UEFA and Michel Platini have said that if the referee hears any racist chants towards players from the crowd he can stop the game.

However, if a manager hears it and decides to remove his team from the field, the referee will issue yellow cards to the whole team.

What a load of nonsense. The game is getting soft, and the people who are supposed to be in charge are so incapable they couldn’t organise a p*** up in a brewery.

On a positive note though was the visit by the England team to Auschwitz, the World War Two concentration camp located in Poland. It’s important that we do not forget the horrors and suffering of the past and to see the England team visit there and pay their respects was good.

I have seen some excellent Euro tournaments in my time and I had the pleasure of covering Euro 2000 for the Press Association, which was held in Belgium and Holland.

Sense of familiarity

I was tasked with following Belgium's fortunes and travelled all over the country, covering half the games and wow, what a great tournament it was; though it is no more than we have come to expect from the Euros.

There are many great sides and great players looking to become European champions and of course, many of the players play in the Premier League so watching the games has a real sense of familiarity.

The season has just finished and the players travel with their national teams to compete for a few weeks before having a short rest and beginning pre-season again.

What sticks out about the Euros is that just like the World Cup; new players burst onto the scene.

Clubs are getting there cheque books ready, players and the press are talking about moves and who is going where.

The tournament acts like a footballer’s market place, where managers look for new prospects and try to keep their secrets.

Few surprises

I experienced this first hand when I covered the Euros. I talked to a lot of managers who were looking for players there.

With the game being so global these days, it is funny how many players aren’t discovered at these tournaments as they are all already widely known.

I liked it when you didn’t know anything about a player and when you went to see them; you were surprised to discover how good they were.

So, to Euro 2012; can we say who will win it? No. Can we say who will be the player of the tournament? No.

However, because so many players play in the top leagues of Europe there are few surprises.

What I would like to see is a good young player coming through and surprising me.

One that springs to mind is Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Who will surely shine if he can get a run in the England team, so we will have to wait and see.

Lucky call-up

I look at certain England players and think, ‘will they surprise me?’

I don't think so. Some of them are simply just lucky to get an England call-up at all, but thankfully that is not my choice.

Will we see a performance by the England team at this tournament?

I look at the other countries though and say England just may perform, because I can’t see another country being that good.

I will be watching every game to determine who deserves to go through to the next round and who is lucky to get through, but by the end of Euro 2012 every team will want to be champions with a new brand of football.

Finally, enjoy the Euros and look out for the next round when I will be talking about the quarter-finals and who looks likely to pick up the cup and who will be in the running.

By Gordon Hill

Gordon Hill was capped six times for England in the 1970s and made 132 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 51 goals. He scored both United goals in their 1976 FA Cup semi-final win against Derby and played in the Red Devils' 2-1 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool in 1977.

He has played for Millwall, Derby, QPR and FC Twente, and managed Chester City and Hyde. He has also played in Finland, the USA and Canada, where he managed the Novia Scotia Clippers in the Canadian Soccer League.

As a media commentator, Hill has worked with Sky Sports, BBC, ITV and Talk Radio. He lives with his wife Claire in McKinney, Texas. Hill now owns and runs Texas-based club United FC


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