By Danny Hunter – Chief Football Writer
A shower of ill-informed, under-prepared English persons reliant on excuses and external blaming for their own failures unceremoniously left Europe this week – for the second time. The England football team, in solidarity with their fan base, chose to leave the Euro 2016 competition in France rather than actually put a bit of effort in and try to make something out of it.
“I think it’s all those foreigners in the Premier League,” said Chris Doddle in response to the poor performance of a collective of exceptionally wealthy supposedly world-class superstars, “They are taking the jobs of young English footballers and diluting the quality of English football, even if they do make our league one of the richest and most attractive in the world.”
Little mention was made by Chris Doddle of how young English footballers are repeatedly getting themselves into trouble, for example assaulting women in nightclubs, drunk driving, or having racist Thai gangbangs. As ever, the problem is externalised, the blame is on anyone and everything but England, its players and the FA.
“I do think there’s a lot of external pressure,” said one fan, “But then if my boss comes to me and says “We’ve headhunted a marvellous Belgian for your position, get busy or you’ll be replaced” the best way to solve that problem is not to try to expel all foreign influence but for me to do better.” He was swiftly ejected from a group of loud, predominately shirtless fans.
Performances on the night were poor. England’s number one goalkeeper, the seemingly irreplaceable Joe Hart, was at fault for Iceland’s second and decisive goal. Wayne Rooney performed about as you expect Wayne Rooney to perform at a tournament post 2004, with his penalty being the only positive thing for England. In parallels with the situations in Britain’s economy right now, Sterling flopped, too.
Roy Hodgson did a full David Cameron and was ready with a prepared speech of resignation, suggesting it had been a wonderful four years in charge. However, despite a very positive and dominant Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, his tenure as manager is punctuated by disappointing displays in tournaments – the thing that really matters.
Where England go from here is beyond us. Time after time they talk of change and revolution and evolution and plans and investment and the word ‘grassroots’ gets used a lot. However, this has been ongoing since 2006 – they have had a decade in which to instigate the changes to put the English football team at least among the top ten teams in the world. It repeatedly fails. Perhaps it is time England ate some humble pie and accepted they are not fighting from the position of sleeping giants, but withering old dogs instead.