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What is it with England?

Posted August 21st, 2008 at 13:26 by Iain
http://viewfromtheshelf.wordpress.com

After every England friendly I berate myself for wasting two hours of my life. I can generally always justify watching football whatever the standard but internationals, supposedly the epitome of the football in this country, just leave me cold and uninspired.

Tonight we are playing the Czech Republic at Wembley and I have corrected my mistake after just 45 minutes. It’s half time and the score is 1-1. Baros scored first after turning ENGLAND SKIPPER AND ALL-ROUND BRAVE MAN John Terry while Wes Brown equalised towards the end.

It is not an awful game but a typical international friendly especially for the time of year. However one half of football has clarified all the reasons why I’m so apathetic towards the national side. It didn’t bother me when we failed to qualify for Euro 2008 and I wouldn’t lose sleep if we miss out on South Africa in two years.

On a purely selfish basis, what do I get out of England qualifying for a major tournament? I have no affinity with the side in the same way that I do with say Tottenham because I care for so few of the players. I officially gave up in the first Capello game when David Bentley, who’d been having an outrageous season for Blackburn, was overlooked for David Beckham who effectively retired when he made the decision to go and play in Los Angeles. Having been excited about Don Fabio’s arrival and a clean slate - all enthusiasm was drained from me before a ball had even been kicked.

As I type - Ujfalasi jas just made it 2-1 to the Czechs. Heskey came on at half time so I expect to hear tomorrow how shit he is and that he cosy us another game if we don’t come back now.

That’s a nice segway actually into part of my loathing for the national side. In one way I like the fact that the whole country can get behind one effort much like the current Olympic campaign. Everyone is talking about Rebecca Adlington and Chris Hoy and it’s genuinely exciting. There is a certain innocence about the whole thing and it’s quite charming to watch modest young athletes turn into superstars before our very eyes. They’ll get their five minutes of fame and then return to normality by next January once they’ve all made an appearance at the BBC’s Sports Personality Of The Year.

When England appear in a tournament though it brings out the worst aspects of the British national psyche and every two-four years generally follow the same pattern. We will often just about qualify and when we do the massive media hype campaign will start. We’ll be made instant favourites and columnists will demand that we bring home the trophy while in the background you can hear the knifes being sharpened in eager anticipation of another failure.

The masses will go out and buy the new kit and probably get the same name on the back they’ll soon be screaming for to be dropped from the side and never return. We’ll draw or win th first game 1-0 against a side “we should be beating comfortably” according to the next day’s papers.

We’ll then qualify from the group having not really played anyone of note and be eliminated as soon as we come up against the first good side we meet. In the background in England, the tabloids will be revelling in their bi-annual opportunity to bring out the most cliched xenophobic statements while attempting to whip readers up into a frenzy of anger that we only put two past Paraguay.

Our eventual elimination will be cue for the weeks of bile to spill out and for tattooed men to finally have the excuse they so crave to break the law as mobs up and down the country go round smashing anything in site. If you happen to have a restaurant themed from the country to have eliminated us, then consider that the first thing to go. “Ronaldo gone and done a wink. Let’s destroy Nandos!”

There will be a post-mortem in the paper and the manager will probably be forced to go. Even Sven Goran-Eriksson who at least wualified for tournaments with the most cosumate of ease, was forced to go because Rooney lost his temper and we had to play large parts against a very good Portugal side with only ten men. Even then we only went out on penalties. All because certain journalists managed to convince people that the man who won leagues all over Europe with various clubs - “doesn’t know what he’s doing”.

A few months will pass and in September the qualification process will begin for the next tournament in two years time. After six weeks of actually doing something different, people are apparently joyous at the prospect of going through it all again and the wretched cycle starts again.

The last time I remember being upset with England being eliminated was France 1998. I was 12 going on 13. Since then I’ve gradually lost more and more interest with each passing campaign and writing the above has helped make it abundantly clear why.

As I’ve been typing the friendly is fading out into a 2-1 and I predict that tomorrow will see the first serious criticism of Capello as England manager by the media. In the past I would have been annoyed and pointed out to various people that English football, like a bad apple, is rotten to the core and our deficiencies at this level are not the fault of the latest man to command an outrageous salary to oversee 12 matches a year.

Those days are gone though. I will take a certain shameful joy from now on by observing the process repeat itself every two years like Groundhog Day. Who knows I may even join the bloodthirsty masses in whatever tune is being composed by The Sun’s oompa band outside the German hotel this week.

CAPELLO OUT!

No that felt wrong. I have to be true to myself… Come on the Czechs.
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