Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Weighed down by a deluded sense of grandeur and arrogance

So, four years of waiting resulted in what for England’s football followers? Less than nothing. While a blinkered few blame the failure on a refereeing decision and the tabloids call for the head of the manager and the players that, not a day before, they confidently predicted would triumph over Germany, the simple fact of the matter is that English football needs to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch.

Playing in an anachronistic, uninventive formation that has dogged English football for eons, the players huffed and puffed around the pitch, lacking vigour, lacking verve. The centre-halves - two old tortoises - creaked their bones as German hares ran circles around them. The midfield treated the ball as the hottest potato. The wingers were poor of touch and inaccurate of cross. The strikers, no confidence, no movement, no idea.

England’s performance in the World Cup served as a microcosm of the whole of English football and, to some extent, English culture. Desperately trying to cling to the glory days of yesteryear, unable to keep up as other nations race past them, ENG-ER-LAND is weighed down by a deluded sense of grandeur and arrogance. Worse still, its jingoistic gutter press fuels the need to cling onto rivalries that are, nowadays, embarrassingly one-sided. One World Cup and Two World Wars and all that other sick-making xenophobia only serves to make England look like a silly, insular, small-minded island rather than a major world force.

Old Albion is a sinking ship, water seeping through rotten wood while the band plays on pigheadedly and its passengers drink themselves into oblivion to a chorus of “Vindaloo, Vindaloo la la”.

And yet, the arrogance remains. Weighed down by inflated egos, the players are spoilt children. Wayne Rooney reacts to a few post-game boos by, rather than bowing his head and accepting a reasonable react to a turgid display, looking down the barrel of the camera and berating the fans. The same fans that have spent a fortune to go to South Africa to watch him do absolutely nothing for four games. And this cancerous petulance has spread through all levels of the English game, right down to little Johnny in the park in his white boots and with his collar upturned, snarling at the opposition and strutting like his heroes. For the greater good, professional footballers need to be moulded back into the ordinary blokes they used to be. Wage caps, a greater community role, whatever. At the moment, people certainly cannot relate to the moronic millionaires that seem to be on the front pages as much as they are on the back. Simply, players, and English football as a whole, needs to learn some humility.

A clear-out of the mainstays of the England team is certainly necessary. But who to replace them with? If England wants to ever be a great footballing nation again, rather than to slip and slide towards becoming a Scotland, the fans and the FA need to forget about the next European Championships and World Cup and look after the youth players coming through. Literally, every possible footballing resource should be poured into putting a ball at the feet of 9 and 10 year-old kids. Too extreme? After a disastrous Euro 2000 campaign, that’s exactly what Germany did. And what happened to those kids that were nurtured so carefully? They just taught England a lesson in the 2010 World Cup.

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