Wednesday, 9 June 2010

World Cup Blog: Oh go on then, I’ll support England!

Those who know me well will know that I like nothing more than a good England football crisis. Turnip heads and headlines like “In the Name of God Go!”, Sven’s bedroom antics and FA incompetence have not induced despair over the years, but merely made me laugh.

Of course that’s not to mention some of the actual performances on the field. Who can forget the final game at the old Wembley, played in the pouring rain which ended in the 1:0 defeat to Germany and Keegan resigning in the toilets (what a metaphor!). Or even better the shocking defeat to Croatia and Steve McClaren standing under his brolly. My wife came into the living room half way through the first half that night and groaned, “Oh no, not football”. I was quick to put her right, “no, no you have to watch this, it’s hilarious!”

In my opinion, these ‘crises’ have led to some of the finest football reporting ever committed to paper. The dispatches of James Lawton of the Independent during the last World Cup should be required reading for budding sports journalists as Lawton’s temperature reached boiling point over the selection of 17 year-old Theo Walcott, WAGs, Baden Baden shopping trips, lacklustre training sessions and even worse performances during the actual matches.

Like many I suspect, I find it difficult to support any team with John Terry and Ashley Cole in it, but the roots of my apathy towards the England football team actually go much deeper.

I was brought up in the North of England and started to follow football in the late ‘70s when England, like now, played all their matches at Wembley. In order to get to see England my father would have had to take at least one day off work (but realistically it would be more like two days) in order to travel to Wembley for the evening match. England never ventured North and we didn’t have the time (and probably the money) to venture South. I grew up therefore more interested in club football, not least because England’s most successful ever team were a mere 20 miles away.

I have been accused over the years of being unpatriotic over this, but that is rubbish. In my book, being unpatriotic is refusing to go ‘over the top’ in the trenches when your country is at war, not feeling apathetic towards a football team you have never even seen live.

However, this time I admit I am torn and the reason is Fabio Capello. I am in awe of the job this man has done, taking a group of under-performing, selfish, over-paid juveniles and turning them into a team, ruling with an iron fist. I suspect he has had plenty of offers to write his autobiography, but he should turn them down and write a management text book instead. His sacking of Terry was a case in point, clinical and concerned only with what is best for the team not the individual.

If we fail at this World Cup (and we probably will as I suspect fatigue from our domestic league obligations are already taking their toll on key players) I will refuse to accept it is Capello’s fault. I draw the line at donning an England shirt, but this time I will tune in and support Don Fabio’s England.

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