Why England are their own worst enemy

Posted: March 17, 2010 in 2010, England, England football team, Events, FIFA World Cup, football, Paparazzi, Press, sport, sports, Uncategorized
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Why England are their own worst enemy.

I am always amused by the attitude and commentary of the British public and press, from back pages to pub bars, as England prepare for major sporting tournaments. It is especially interesting when, on the rare occasion, England have even managed to assemble a squad of would-be contenders, with a real or imagined chance to finally lift that elusive trophy.

I have of course, been inspired to discuss this topic by the seeming attempt at self-destruction that is currently being undertaken by the England football team. Back in October 2009, England sailed through qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa on the back of an impressive nine wins out of ten, with a positive goal difference of 28. Despite the minor aberration against Ukraine in the penultimate qualifier, it is impressive stuff, indeed. Then the discussions began. Perhaps they have a genuine chance this time? There is no doubting that the side that cruised through group six of UEFA qualification is an impressive football side. In Cole and Terry you have two of the best defenders in the world. Gerrard and Lampard can control any midfield on their day, and well, Rooney, is probably the best striker in the world on current form. There are also others such as Lennon, Carrick, Crouch, Johnson and Gareth Barry who all look up for the job of performing on the world’s greatest stage. Even the aging Beckham looked like he still had one last in-swinging cross to see the Three Lions over an insurmountable obstacle and onto the next stage, probably in dying moments for added drama.

But that was October, and now we fast forward to mere weeks away from the tournament itself. In the intervening time we have had the Eastenders-esque pantomime that is British sport, start to play it’s usual undermining role. First we have ‘red tab’ revelations about Captain and stalwart Terry and his affair with former Chelsea tem-mate Wayne Bridge’s ex, Vanessa Perroncel. The nation was divided. For some, Terry the defensive god can do no wrong, and should be left to do as he pleases and guide England to world cup victory, shagging whomever he likes along the way. Never mind his missus. For others, the deceit and betrayal is unbecoming of an England captain, and he was rightly stood down. Interestingly, for some, it was more about the betrayal of a team-mate, that the cheating on his lawfully wedded wife. The editors of said paper obviously couldn’t have cared either way, but it certainly shifted not just the expected extra Sunday copies, but dragged on for about ten days, filling the shrinking coffers. Whatever the case, the man who had been arm-banded for England and was probably best qualified for the job, was stood down by his Italian Don. Bullet in foot number one.

What seemed like mere moments later, fellow England and Chelsea defender Ashley Cole was revealed to have cheated with not just one, but five, yes five other women! At least none of them were attached to team-mates… It was alright though, as Cole was already a figure of hatred up and down the fair isle for his money-grubbing exploits and the most heinous of betrayals, a London derby-rival transfer. Monster.

Of course it might not actually be Cole, widely regarded as one of, if not the best left back in the world, who actually performs that role in the Cup, as he is fighting back to fitness from an injury that threatens to scupper his tourney. His obvious replacement would have been Wayne Bridge, quite adept at the role, but victim of said infidelities of Terry and Peroncel. He has subsequently made himself unavailable to ‘protect team unity’, and that leave England with no internationally experienced or decent left-backs. Bullet number two.

Which brings us on to the old curse of injuries. Old warhorse Beckham topped up frequent flying points, learned to love pasta and even got a bit of semplice Italiano in order to become the first Englishman to play in four Cup final tournaments. But of course the England injury curse had to hit someone, and dear oh dear, poor Becks, alas, shall play in the cup no more. At least it was Becks and not Rooney, I hear echoing up and down the land. Well, there is still a lot of football for United to play between now and June…

It has of course all happened before. Rooney’s injury in Euro 2004 may have contributed to the poor showing there. Beckham was famously undercooked trying to recover from an injury prior to the 2002 World Cup, and underperformed. England goal-machine Michael Owen was also hit by the big-tournament curse at the 2006 Cup.

Regardless of injuries, the British Paparazzi never cease to amaze me with their willingness to destroy British sporting ambitions on the sniff of a ‘good story’. I imagine them sitting in their office chewing the nails over whether to destroy England hopes by publishing some revelation of wrong doing, or show support for the cause. Ha! I jest… Of course they would drive the nail in without a second thought.

As an Australian this is very foreign to me, as our press are usually our secret weapon. They hail and lift on high Aussie athletes of all shapes and variety, and always, without fail, make life hell for touring sides by jumping on the backs and leaning backwards for the whole trip. Sometimes quite unfairly, to be honest. But manys the touring cricket side who have travelled from Perth to Sydney and been hounded all the way. And you do not want to make indiscretions on the long and arduous tour, believe me. And that is before the players and the fans have even gotten stuck in. Sporting, spirit of fair play? I think not. We want to win, and win at all costs. British paps however are more interested in who is shagging who.

Speaking of touring down under, it reminds me that it is not just the football team who get completely undermined by Fleet Street. How they rejoiced into their mojitos who the woke up to find Freddie floating across the Caribbean at the 2007 Cricket World Cup. To be fair, the ‘Fredalo’ headline was quite clever. England’s Rugby team have been struck by the same Pap-injury curse as well.

As England go out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup on penalties, it will not be the infidelities or the injuries that have cost the team, it will have been the paps who highlight every crack, expose every wound to the opponents, and snap every beer in a club after a win. Our press will be showing the Socceroos training hard, practicing pens, and running their arses off.

Who needs strong opponents when you are being undermined from within?

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