This is England

By Prestwich_Blue, Fri 02 September 2011 17:49


This is England

Apologies if you drop everything to watch them but does anyone really care about England games anymore? I certainly don’t and a number of people I speak to say the same. I don’t know what it is that made me that way.

Maybe it’s just age and the fact that I don’t get as excited about the national team as I did when I was younger. But I’m even more excited about watching City so that can’t be a factor. Maybe it’s the increasing realisation that we aren’t going to win anything and are even being over-taken by the technical and organisational skills of countries that turn out 11 goat-herders. But I’ve been a City fan long enough so should have got used to that feeling prior to Sheikh Mansour’s arrival.

Perhaps I’m being unfair as I realise that it does seem to matter to people, as they turn out at Wembley to watch them in their tens of thousands. But if you look at the banners you’ll notice Union or St Georges’ flags adorned with place names like Grimsby, Melton Mowbray, Taunton & Barrow. No offence to people in those undoubtedly fine places (excluding Barrow obviously) but they’re hardly footballing hotbeds to rival Barcelona, Milan or our own dear Manchester. So is it that we care more about our clubs’ pursuit of silverware these days?

I remember that my disillusionment with England goes back to Sven’s managerial tenure. Loved him to bits as our manager but his biggest fault was having no Plan B and that’s exactly what he was like for England. It’s just over 10 years since the 5-1 win in Munich, one of the best England moments since 1966, but it all seemed to go slowly downhill from there.

I think it started in the 2002 World Cup quarter final game against Brazil.
We’d beaten the Argies in the group stages and they’d been eliminated, along with the defending champions France. Denmark had been easily disposed of in the last 16 and we were one up against the Brazilians and looking comfortable. But then Seaman committed a trademark howler to let them back in and you always knew Sven’s team were never going to come out for the second half fired up. I often wonder what was said at half-time but it always seemed to have the opposite of what was presumably the desired effect. Churchillian it most certainly wasn’t; Valium in the tea more likely.

The 2004 Euros were much the same and I was left with the overwhelming impression that he was taking the piss from there on in. There was also the feeling that commercial pressures took precedence over playing considerations and that Gerrard, Lampard & Beckham all had to play regardless of what they actually contributed (which was usually very little in the case of the first two).

The FA then tried the tactic of appointing a well-regarded English coach like McClaren, ignoring the obvious question that if he was so well regarded, why did no one else want him? Plan C involved getting a tactically astute Italian to do the job. This conveniently ignores the fact that you could put Kieren Fallon on a Blackpool beach donkey (I use the word “beach” to avoid a libel writ from Gary Taylor-Fletcher) but it still wouldn’t win the Derby.

So I might do the equivalent of popping my head round the door, like having the radio on in the background while doing something more important and interesting like sorting my paper-clips into different sizes. But I won’t be settling in front of the telly with a beer and bowl of crisps to give up two hours of my life to actually watch it.

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