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...


Sav said...

A sobering article which tells the blatant truth. Success is not a God given right for anyone or even a nation. It has to be earned by humble people who are willing to work hard together to make it happen. Look no further than Messi or Tevez (two of the greatest players the world has ever seen). When they start a match they work hard by being who they are and not what they are supposed to be. They don't think they are stars when they play football. In fact, I don't think they they think of themselves as stars at any time (despite being practically living legends).

English people should accept that they have no right to expect so much from their players. Let them develop as a team. Congratulate them whether they win the Cup or even when they don't even qualify. That would be a good start.

Well said Rabelais. It was very refreshing to finally read the plain truth written so bluntly and succinctly.

Hammersfan said...

Oy Sav, so what does that say about me? I'm going off in a huff to read the complete works of Rudyard Kipling!

Sav said...

Your English is very good HF. Although this is not about you, I quite enjoy what you write and that is why I am a regular visitor. Quite often I can also say that your judgement is also very good too. But not always.

Reb has written this very well and it is something that had to be said.

But enough about England, let's go back to West Ham. What this Avram guy doing? Any news? Why is Spector still in our books?

Anonymous said...

Here we go:

What's the difference between Cinderella and the England football team?

Cinderella wanted to get to the ball....

Osama bin Laden has just released a new TV message to prove he is still
alive. He said that the England Team performance on Saturday was completely
s**t. British intelligence have dismissed the claim, stating that the
message could have been recorded anytime in the last 44 years.

Robert Green - The only man to leave Africa with out catching anything .

In a statement from broadcasting house, all future England games will now
be shown on the gay porn channel. It is thought that 11 ars╬Áholes being
regularly shafted is too explicit for regular TV.

I can't believe we only managed a draw against a s**t team we should easily
have beaten......I'm ashamed to call myself Algerian.

The England team went to visit an orphanage in South Africa this morning,
"its so good to put a smile on the faces of people with no hope, constantly
struggling, and facing the impossible" said Jamal Omboto, aged 6.

Fifa have released a statement saying the fan didn't break into the
dressing room after all, but was let in by Rob Green.

What's the difference between Rob Green's spill and BP's spill?
- Robert Green has got a cap for his.

Fabio Capello was wheeling his shopping trolley across the supermarket car
park when he noticed an old lady struggling with her bags of shopping. He
stopped and asked, "Can you manage dear?" To which the old lady replied,
"No way. You got yourself into this f*****g mess, don't ask me to sort it

The FA have launched an inquiry to find out how a fan found his way into
the dressing room. And another enquiry into how Aaron Lennon found his way
into the dressing room.

Oxo are introducing a new white Oxo cube with a red cross on it, in support of

The England team. It's called the "Laughing Stock"!!

Don't start this is what Hammers are good at!
Laughing at ourseles

John VP

Sav said...

English humor is still world champion!

Rabelais said...

I'm very flattered you should post this on your blog. Cheers for that.

Sav, your compliments are very much appreciated.

To be frank, I thought I would get a lot more stick for this. Still, it's early yet. I'll not take my hard hat off until midnight.

Hammersfan said...

I think everybody wrapped in the flag has suffocated under it Rab! Thanks for the submission, I thought it was a first class article!

T.I.S said...

I am so used to the feeling of deflation thanks to West Ham, cushioning the blow of our performance against ze germans. Nice article. However much people want to pile on the misery though, and say the goal that never was wouldn't have made a difference, i disagree entirely. First of all the character shown in bringing the game back almost effortlessly I was very impressed. The momentum would have been entirely in our favour, therefore encouraging Capello to sure things up defensively as our attack was good. dismiss the goal? deserved to lose anyway? Are you f**king kidding me?! It was a goal, a goal in the world cup against 'the enemy', how can you drive yourself further knowing that the ball in the net won't get you a goal? Platini will use our own criticism of our team to keep quiet of course, and nobody will blame the linesman for not doing one of his two very simple jobs because we did not 'play well enough anyway'. bollocks! it was a goal.

joe hart





Deane said...

it wasn't a goal for it to be a goal the referee has to award it Thems the rules

Pablo said...

Another key concern is that the England team reflects the British approach to international society in general.

In comparison to our european neighbours, very few British people are fluent in a second language or spend much time working abroad in non english speaking countries. Especially compared to foreigners that come to England (or other English speaking countries) already fluent in English.

We have a lazy and arrogant attitude when it comes to being international. In most European countries you can just about get by only speaking English (obviously there are exceptions) and this means that generally us Brits don't feel the need to make the effort as someone will always be able to understand us.

Fewer and fewer British born players are playing in foreign leagues now and that means that our players are far less intensely exposed to other footballing cultures and styles.

Granted, the European club competitions can provide some of that experience to our top plpayeres but how many Brazilian, Argentinian, French, Spanish and Portugese players play or have played in a foreign league at some point in their career?

Is it just a coincidence that their national teams are more successful if their players have a better understanding and more experience of other football styles and cultures?

Stani Army said...

Excellent article Rabelais, and very good follow up comment Pablo which I completely agree with.