Mets bullpen failures and Dino Costa pandering to birther trash aside, there are few things more predictable in this world than England getting knocked out of a major tournament on penalties. Sunday’s Euro 2012 quarter-final defeat to Italy was an uninspired, strategically bereft display that somehow passed for entertainment in the view of Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, “who enjoys feigning interest in the kind of sporting pursuits enjoyed by commoners and oiks, because it conveys the impression that he’s no different to you even though we all know that’s not true.” And The Guardian’s Barry Glendenning and Paul Doyle are only just getting started ;

When you surround yourself with conniving multi-millionaires engaged in shadowy acts of nepotism, it’s important to show a common touch, which is why the prime minister pretends to support Aston Villa. Well, that and the fact that his uncle Sir William Dugdale used to be the club’s chairman. “I would like to congratulate the team and the manager and all who worked so hard with them and for them to put on a great display,” said Cameron today, in a speech that suggests he might not have been entirely truthful when he stated he’d actually watched the game.

Using the tactics so defensive and negative they could have been employed by a prime minister appearing before the Leveson inquiry, the fact that England made it to a penalty shoot-out at all was largely down to the success of the tried and trusted tactic of hoping really, really hard that the opposition fail to convert all the gilt-edged chances you keep gifting them. “At times the football hasn’t been fantastic, we haven’t blown people away,” said a clearly disappointed $tevie Mbe (above) this morning, with his brow looking even more furrowed than usual. “The possession stats speak for themselves. Moving forward as a nation we do need to improve with the ball,” he continued, apparently oblivious to the fact that most of the folks back home would happily settle for seeing their national football team moving forward.

The possession stats to which $tevie alluded don’t so much speak for themselves as whack the amps up to 11, rip the microphone from the stand Steven Tyler-from-Aerosmith style and scream at the top of their voices. England had just 32% possession last night, while their most successful pass completion combo involved Joe Hart lumping the ball towards the meaty forehead of a lumbering second-half substitute in the vain hope it might clank off his noggin into the path of a star striker that looked a long way short of match fitness after his spell on the naughty step.