Trying to write an article about a 0-1 defeat in the Ukraine is easy.
The press, perpetuating the theory that they exist only to make a mountain out of a molehill (quite literally when referring to Paul Robinson’s experience in Zagreb), will undoubtedly aim to point the finger at a someone. Generally, this player/referee/manager won’t deserve the level criticism aimed at them, but the airwaves of Talk Sport will still be rammed full of supporters reacting with true Daily Mail style outrage.
Turn it on now. I’m willing to bet you that an angry man from Dagenham is struggling to get his point across about why Rio Ferdinand should be dropped. Jason Cundy will then inexplicably agree with him.
However, I’m not one to stoke the fire. In fact, I want to talk about something completely unrelated to yesterday’s result because, yesterday, a funny thing happened. I found myself losing interest in the game after 15 minutes. Why? Not because we had gone down to 10 men. No, I lost interest because the one player representing my club had left the field of play.
Maybe it’s different for the fans of Manchester United and Chelsea who have a number of their players regularly making the starting line-up at international level, or maybe they feel it too. All I know is that, as a Spurs fan, whenever one of our players takes to the field in the white of my country, I suddenly become the proud father-figure standing on the touchline, nudging my neighbour and exclaiming “That’s my boy!”.
When Aaron Lennon bamboozled the Croatians, and turned in a Man Of The Match perfomace in England’s recent 5-1 victory at Wembley, I wasn’t sure if I was proud of my club for having the best player on the pitch, or just proud of my country’s achievement. That night I think it was a mixture of the two, but yesterday’s match probably proved to me that, in meaningless international games, my eye is more on the individuals than on the team as a whole.
This of course opens up a wider Club vs Country debate. Do I love Spurs more than I love England? In a game that mean nothing, yes, I probably do. The neutral would undoubtedly claim that this is terribly unpatriotic, and that I should be hung, drawn and quartered for such treason. However, the neutral doesn’t have engrained within them the 9 month turmoil of the loyal football supporter and, in an era when player loyalty is at an all-time low, Premier League fans (certainly of clubs outside of the top four) want to cling on to every moment their stars have in the limelight. They don’t tend to last long if you have a player of real quality, as Spurs fans only know too well.
I think that we can safely say that Eriksson tarnished the integrity of England friendlies for us all and, let’s face it, World Cup qualifiers when you’ve already qualified are basically the same thing. It’s just another annoying little break, when all you really want to do is have a pie in your hand, a spring in your step, and be ready to get behind your club’s players once more. However, if one of your boys has broken into the national team and proudly pulled on the shirt of your country, it becomes a different ball-game entirely. Suddenly a meaningless game has meaning.
On Saturday, when our Postman Pat lookalike was forced into taking my boy off after 15 minutes, and I suddenly found myself on BBC One watching a re-run of Diagnosis Murder, I could hear those Premier League neutrals sharpening their guillotines for my heresy.
Tell me though, fellow Premier League fans, am I the only one who is committing this crime?
Written by Eddie: Eddie’s Football Blog.
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