And so ends another football adventure for the English, trounced 4-1 by their eternal nemesis Germany. Yes it should have been 4-2, but “c’est la vie” as the French would say if they had actually managed to get out of the group stages.
To be an English football fan is truly a rollercoaster of emotion, and I feel I am old enough now to realise the pattern of every World Cup. Inevitably the upcoming tournament is described lavishly in the press as “the one” that will equal the glory of 1966. Yes, we triumphantly proclaim, this is it, we will win this time. A wave of euphoric optimism sweeps the nation and all the flags come out.
Inevitably, once the tournament is underway England’s performance is lukewarm, and about average for a nation of it’s size. Eventually, the team get kicked out of the competition and the floodgates open, as weeks of pent up moaning that the English seem to excel at are released upon this once happy nation. All aspects of the teams performance are analysed and moaned at. Unfortunately for the manager it is normally them that takes the bulk of the moaning and generally gets sacked.
So what’s my take on all of this? I think we actually do rather well. We are a small island nation of takeaway loving couch potatoes, so the fact we qualify at all is a remarkable achievement. Even more amazing is that we do actually have some excellent home bred club footballers, who get paid ridiculous sums of money to play in top level English football which they do to a world class standard. However take those footballers away from their clubs, stick them in a national shirt with a team they don’t normally play with and unsuprisingly they don’t perform quite so spectacularily.
So what can we do? It depends whether we are serious about winning at an international level, because as time has told us, our current approach doesn’t win World Cups. Please bear in mind I do not claim to have in depth football knowledge when I make these suggestions, but here are my ideas:
1) Get a decent English football team, remove the Johnny Foreigners, and enter the team for the World Cup. We’d have to put aside our club rivalry for this one, but ultimately teams win matches. If the England squad had been training and playing together for years as a club we might do better.
2) Select the squad from the lower divisions. My thinking here is that lower division players have huge benefits to be gained. These guys are going to play their socks off. I would think they would train like crazy for months if given an England call up. They would probably train together as a team to insane levels. The opportunity here is that if they shine in front of the world, they could potentially grab that £50,000 a week job at the likes of Chelsea or Barcelona.
Just my thoughts really. In the real England in which we live however, I suspect the cycle of expectation, disappointment, moaning and manager sacking is set to continue for years to come yet!