Monday, 28 June 2010
England Must Admit To Delusions Of Grandeur
(Submitted by Rabelais)
A poster on comments says: "I think that the players, the manager, the media and also the fans are guilty of massive delusions of grandeur."
This, I think, hits the nail on the head.
All my life I have been subjected to the most intense football propaganda that convinced me that England were realistic contenders for every European and World competition they entered.
When I watched my first World Cup in 1978, England had been victors just 12 years before, which meant that their absence from the tournament in Argentina could be thought of as a hiatus in a story of otherwise national footballing glory.
Since then I have succumbed to the myth, propagated every four years, that the cup was England’s but for that metatarsal injury, or for the ‘hand of God’ and tricky foreigners, or the incompetence of match officials. This is all propaganda and I simply don’t believe it anymore.
I’ll tell you what else I don’t believe (and this is heresy in some parts). I don’t believe that the third England goal in the ‘66 final crossed the line. I suspect that the rest of the world has always known this, but then again they have not been exposed to the sort of propaganda that we encounter regularly in the UK.
The rest of the world also knows that there was a concerted effort to keep the home nation in the ’66 tournament to guarantee high gate receipts, so there is more than a whiff of controversy about the red card shown the Argentinean captain, Antonio Rattin, in the quarter final against England. The south American was dismissed by for ‘violence of the tongue’ despite the German referee knowing not a word of Spanish.
Now in the aftermath of Germany’s 4-1 drubbing of England I can honestly say that the last vestiges of the erroneous belief that this generation of young English players, or that generation, or any generation is the ‘golden’ one have left me.
England have produced middling football teams for as long as I can remember. Whatever the individual talents on show the team has always seemed to fall short of the sum of its parts. Sure, there have been glimpses, rare moments of magic, but never anything sustained. England expects. England’s football team disappoints. England’s fans and pundits offer a rash of reasons and recriminations.
Those who get closest to the real reasons for England’s malodorous performances look for structural reasons, like youth policies, the number of foreign players in the Premiership, the political economy of a sport where clubs pay exorbitant wages to young men who then never look quite as committed to the less lucrative cause of their country.
But I’d like to suggest another reason why England underperform. I don’t offer this as the definitive reason, but one among a number. And it is this: there is something in the English national character that predisposes her majesty’s subjects to a grossly inflated sense of the country’s place in the world; a legacy of once imperial greatness that fuels a sense of inherent superiority that turns to hurt indignation when the nation’s representatives don’t deliver glory.
England’s footballers carry such unrealistic expectations upon their young shoulders, is it any wonder they looked fearful and frigid in this World Cup?
Karl Marx once said that the ‘The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.’ He was writing about the French Revolution but the phrase could be applied to the English football team. In at least 3 or the 4 games they played in this world cup they looked haunted, like they are living with every patriotic ghost from 1066 to 1966.
Old ‘Arry made an interesting point after the Germany game, when he pointed out that England need to play a more ‘modern’ style of football. He’s probably dead right. But England also needs a new sense of itself in this post-imperial era that doesn’t rely on an identity that is shackled by perceived former glories. It could start with a new national anthem...
Posted by Hammersfan at 18:24