Manchester City

The English Disease – By A City Fan Called Caveney

So here’s another of those ‘here’s what England must do in order to succeed’ pieces where an itinerant observer of the national team puts the world to rights.

What’s new here? Hear me out. This doesn’t go into the usual unfair, subjective judgement of squad members, the manager’s choice of players, formations or any silly stuff like that.

It’s about mentality on and off the pitch. Not just in the stands, but also in the punditry, the newspaper columns, in pubs, bars and front rooms across the fan base – anywhere the conversation comes up. Dare I say it, even here on the worldwide waffle.

Enough. Enough. Enough. I’m not saying this based on our friendly match with the Frenchies – although it is evidence enough that we took it far too seriously and lost convincingly. Our national side is rubbish right now, and we just have to accept it. We sound so pompous and humourless is our long-winded analysis of something quite simple – we’re doing it wrong.

And while we wear the blinkers and suck the dried out boobs of yester-century, we will not fix it. Let it go. See the funny side, and the tired old patriotic football fever for what it is: boring and counter-productive. Rip it up and start again, and this time let’s not be so anxious and desperate to establish an authority we never really had.

I’m not saying turn our backs on the national side. Far from it. Just let’s walk away from our collective attitude and approach, because we’re just becoming a more and more tragic source of amusement to everyone but ourselves.

Look at it this way. Some kids at school kept getting beaten up because they just wouldn’t learn, and their gluttony for regular, shameful public ridicule simply perpetuated the situation. Most of these kids are now drug addicts, perverts, spousal batterers and murderers, but that’s neither here nor there. They refused to accept it, and couldn’t bring themselves to just walk away. They failed.

But some had what we call self-esteem and containment. They’d take the kicking as a bad day, and not dwell on it. They’d pick themselves up and think it through – stay off the radar for a bit, learn some chops and lull their foes into a false sense of security. Only to return to the playground one fine day and deliver a fantastic pasting. Job done. These guys got the girls in the end, have a sense of humour and lead happy, peaceful lives, but that’s another story. They won.

My point – if you haven’t got it yet – is that we are down our own dead-end street and can’t seem to find reverse. We’ve built an arrogance on nothing but misguided expectation, and it’s a difficult pill to swallow, but let’s pinch our noses and get real. We have some outstanding talent and a great youth prospect, and the resources to find our way back to square one and build again, slowly.

Sorry, folks, it’s the only way it’s going to happen for us. We have to stop forcing the issue like petulant children. Everyone kind of knows it, but we’re such a bunch of stubborn shits we’ll probably let it get much worse before the penny drops. Can it get much worse? Maybe, but hardly any less convincing or any more frustrating to watch – especially when it’s that chuffing simple to rectify.

Despite it being ‘the best league in the world’ , the English Premier League has some pretty unique problems, and maybe they are in some way affecting our national footballing identity. But for me, it’s more about the English disease that pervades so many other aspects of our society.

We aren’t the superpower we once were – in football any more than in international trade or finance, political clout or economic strength. We don’t make anything, we just covet, consume and judge what everyone else does.

The sooner we wake up to this, the sooner everything will be absolutely 100% guaranteed wonderful again and we’ll rule the world via some barrel-chested youngsters who smoke pipes, wear itchy trousers and live in mineshafts.


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