Wednesday, 29 June 2016

A Requiem ? No, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life !

For those, expecting to see the clip of the song in the title, you shall have to wait a little longer. I decided to wait a day before composing my review of the debacle that occurred in Nice which wasn't actually very nice if you were an England fan. 

I did not want to be accused of a knee jerk reaction and I am glad I decided thus, as now the Post is titled as it is, instead of something much more morbid such as the initial requiem (mass for the dead for those who don't know the meaning of the word) I had intended to pen.

A clarification before we carry on, I recently turned fifty, and although I left the shores of old Blighty twenty five years ago, I still consider myself first and foremost a long suffering England fan, although perhaps with a slightly different perspective due to my residing abroad.
So where to begin, perhaps with a different Monty Python clip from the one mentioned in the title. 

Parrot Sketch

Why the parrot sketch? Well, we can use it as an analogy. The customer represents the England football fan, naive, gullible, wanting to believe. 
The salesman is the Football Association, and the management of English football, always willing to pull the wool over the eyes of the customer, trying to deflect from reality by continually mentioning the beautiful plumage (read the beautiful game) and how it is pining for the Fjords or in the case of an English footballer the bars of the Costa del Sol. 

The parrot, well that is the English footballer, and to paraphrase, he has been nailed to his perch, and as it says "is tired and shagged out after a long season" although the original Squawk, might be a more apt term.
The modern player spends to much time twittering away, rather than doing what he is paid exorbitant amounts of money to do.
However there is a deeper issue here, which affects of all the involved parties in different ways. It is a cultural thing, and it is the culture of mediocrity, of "well played" of  being "glorious in defeat"
In my preview before the game and if you trawl the web you can see many other far more respected pundits than I, who wrote in a similar vein, that this game was a banana skin, one that England could lose. This is symptomatic of this culture. 

Can anyone imagine the Nationalmannschaft, or their fans for that matter, thinking before a game, Achtung, we are playing Iceland, we have to be watchful. No, of course not, they respect the opposition, but every time the Nationalmannschaft go out to play they expect to steam roll their opponents on their way to a win. Defeat is not even a consideration even when the odds are stacked against them.
It is this mindset that led the Germans to start two world wars.

England do not expect to win, the long suffering fans do not expect them to win, yes there is a lot of bluster and bravado and outward signs of hope but underneath that flimsy veneer,
they are scared, they play with fear.  The English love an underdog at least until it bites them, why ? because it is not English to be too good or successful at anything.

Obviously this is not the first time England has failed to deliver, but in the forty plus years that I have been watching England, the performance against Iceland has to rank as the worst I have ever witnessed. So what now ?

The English football fan is like the mythical phoenix, who is reborn from its ashes after its self immolation. My wife who is a wise woman, says that if women remembered what giving birth was like they would all stop after one child. 

After the initial shock and anger has worn off, the average English fan will start to look forward with renewed belief and hope to the World Cup in Russia due to be held in 2018 on the assumption that England qualify.

As for the team itself.  Interestingly enough, the average age of this England squad was the youngest in the tournament. One or two of the older players (Rooney, Hart) will have to go and despite the poor performance, there still is promise for the future (already an example of self delusion perhaps). 

Both the England Rugby and Cricket teams have gone through similar experiences in the past year, both crashing out of world cups with humiliating capitulations against supposed lesser nations or from winning positions due to the culture of fear. 

Both the Rugby and Cricket sides appointed new coaches (ironically both Australian, a nation that has an excess of self confidence) who have led the Cricket side to a T20 world cup final and the Rugby team to a six nations Grand slam victory and a three nil whitewash of Australia in Australia, an unheralded feat. 

The important thing to note is that both coaches made few changes to the teams, but rather have installed a winning mentality. The exact opposite of what we saw from cuddly Roy Hodgson, as he sat, head in hands paralyzed with not knowing what to do, how to turn the situation round, with his every move only making things worse.

This is where Monty Python come in and I need to add no more. I will be back tomorrow to begin the preview of the quarter finals, because it is my duty to carry on for those of you who are still interested.

What have you got to lose ? Nothing


  1. The way we have set ourselves up for the last 50 years before each tournament has been "we've got a really talented bunch of players"...."getting to the QF stages will be seen as successful"...and of course..."THIS COULD BE OUR YEAR". Well I propose a change: let's pick players only from League 1 downwards, have an allocation in team for at least one gas fitter and supermarket shelf stacker, call ourselves underdogs, PARK THE BUS, and maybe we might sneak a couple of 1-nils having thrown ourselves around a bit without worrying about looking like Glen Hoddle. I would gladly swap being a Wimbledon (for any Americans that's the soccer team from the late 1980's, not the tennis tournament!) rather than perennial losers. So who would be the new manager....let's give Vinnie Jones a go

  2. Trivia question to cheer ourselves up: What is the connection between this Life of Brian clip and the Israeli commentator that we all hate?

  3. you can talk yourself into anything i guess

  4. A bit of pressure and ... shat in their pants. Couldn't make a 10 metre pass stick. Abysmal. Manager shmanager, if the players can't perform on the day, they need a shrink not a manager.
    Team should have included Milner, Delph, Lennon, Howson, Byram etc. MOT

    1. and where were alan smith, paul robinson, lee bowyer and danny mills???