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Saturday, 08 October 2011

England: Does anyone know what is wrong with England?


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Fabio Capello's England qualified for Euro 2012 last night with a point at Montenegro. Despite Wayne Rooney's red card and blowing a two goal lead, England fans will be travelling to Poland and Ukraine in mass in the summer. But in the build-up to the game the same tired questions were being asked again. The same questions that were endlessly recycled and the same questions that seemingly never cease to bore people.

And so, at the risk of being slated for my honesty, I have a question of my own: should we accept that we just don’t know what is wrong with England?

I have acquired this mental image of us as this moustachioed backstreet Doctor awkwardly peering over our ever-dying patient thinking, ‘Oh, s**t’.  Think of all the different theories on why our country so spectacularly fails and you could write a book.

In fact, some have. It's mind-boggling; the sheer depth of reasons and excuses that crop up to alleviate our failings at international tournaments – from fear to a lack of passion to my very own idea that our players are put on pedestals when they really aren’t world-class in the first place.

Where does it get us? What do we gain from our probing? We get absolutely nowhere and gain absolutely nothing. They never seem to work; Capello was supposed to bring in a stricter regime and get us playing ‘proper’ football.

It didn’t work.

Another idea, another theory, another five years of being stranded in no man’s land.

It probably won’t work.

Harry Redknapp is being touted as our newest saviour when our media, with its ever vicious agenda, has already begun to slate their newest (well, not anymore) villain in Fabio Capello – a man who doesn’t play along with their unbecoming game of cat and mouse.

I want England to win but I have almost run out of an emotional connection with their ongoing plight. I have become indifferent when I want to be passionate and cynical when I want to be hopeful – I think we all have. We all have that gnawing realisation we will fail at Euro 2012 - the reasons are plain and simple: we lack unity, a familiar game plan; our balls shrivel up inside of us when being made to shoot from 12 yards. It never, ever ends and on a boring international week, the probing only intensifies.  

I ask you this one question – can you pick one overriding reason for why we so often fail? Because I cannot. And I disagree that it is a combination of factors; it seems to me we have an ailment for which we do not possess a cure.

I know I should be loyal but it’s always one extreme – either bitter dismay or unjustified hope and it’s exhausting. It's like a strip-tease really - what's the point of looking at what might happen if you can't touch? Our players probably are good enough to be herded into a working formation and style but it just never seems to happen.

Heads are being turned and there are now theories that Tony Pulis’ style of football would help our team, or we could bring in the fading Arsene Wenger or the ‘brilliant tactician’ Rafael Benitez. All of these ideas, all of these theories, certainly I believe, are thought of because we simply don’t know what is wrong with our national team anymore. It is our biggest fear so we turn to radical ideas and accusations to suppress it.

Perhaps it could remain our greatest mystery; almost, without sounding pretentious, like life itself. We travel around in this rather odd existence, every so often having our brains tantalised by alleged theories on why we are here but the concrete, rather disappointing reality is that we will long be ash and mould before the nature of our being is revealed. It’s a copout but at least we have an accepted, final answer and mindset rather than being stuck in this grotesque purgatory of (what is it now, going on 50 years?) where our questions are always half-answered and if onlys are always lingering.

And perhaps if the ever-bright spotlight were diluted a fraction, we would get our much desired answer. It isn't the main reason but it certainly adds a pressured negativity to our player’s attempts. Perhaps if I stepped away from the situation; stepped outside of our anger and disappointment and just looked at England as another team we would gain a sense of perspective. From there maybe (and it’s a big maybe) we would learn the true reason for our failure.

Instead of the tired excuses we should accept we cannot pinpoint just one thing that is wrong and we really can’t tell why we fail, rather than rehashing theories. With England, it doesn’t rain – it pours. In fact, it doesn’t just pour, it buckets it down. And I, for one, am tired of being stranded soaked in the wilderness.

Article by Jack Heaney

Do you agree with Jack? Have you become tired of England's performances on the international stage? Why do so many England players seem to freeze on the big stage? What do you think is the problem with England? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

Related Articles:

 Would you welcome Wenger as England boss?

Bale, Giggs, Beckham and Wilshere: Who will represent Team GB in London 2012?

The strange case of Steve McClaren


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