England's arrogance resurfaces!

I was born, raised and still live in England, but I have never been able to bring myself to support the England team (I’m a Wales fan). One of my friends was talking the other day remembering how devastated he was when England lost to West Germany in 1990, but I remember watching that match with a sense of indifference rather than sadness (I was only seven). One of the main reasons why I cannot bring myself to support them is the sheer arrogance demonstrated by the players, press and fans.
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South Africa 2010 may be a different tournament, but it’s the same old England that are participating. Despite protestations to the contrary, the preparation, performances and reactions to the games against the USA and especially Algeria have once again highlighted the arrogance running through the England team, media and it’s supporters, who once again headed to a major tournament in the misguided belief that they would win it.
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When the World Cup draw was made. Everyone said that England couldn’t have got an easier draw and those group games would be nothing more than a glorified warm-up for the tough games later in the tournament, one newspaper even had a headline that ran England, Algeria, Slovenia, Yanks. However, the official line was that England were not taking the opposition lightly, that each opponent would be taken seriously.
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It looks as though England’s players haven’t bothered to scout the opposition properly. Before the Algeria game, Wayne Rooney admitted that Nadir Belhadj was the only Algerian player he’d heard of, which the Algerians have admitted gave them greater motivation. After the Algeria game Steven Gerrard said that the game was “like their World Cup final, they got a point out of us”. So according to him the pinnacle of achievement for Algerian football is being allowed to play England? Also, the points comment suggests England believed the points were theirs to give away, not there to be won by either team.
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After the final whistle, which was the England fans cue to jeer the team, Wayne Rooney turned to a TV camera and said “Nice to see you own fans boo you, that’s what loyal support is”. So basically, according to Rooney (who has since apologised) the fans that’ve paid thousands to travel to watch England play are not loyal because they have the temerity to show displeasure when the team not only played badly, but didn’t even put the effort in.
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The finger of blame here in England has fallen squarely on Fabio Capello, for all manner of reasons including tactics, his methods and his demeanour. This is a week after some papers were proclaiming him to be the best manager in the world and the man who was going to leads England to glory. Despite the truly miserable performances by the players and the glaring deficiencies the England team has, most people still believe England would win the World Cup with a different manager in charge.
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The arrogance about the stature of English football extends to the TV coverage. In the South Africa v Mexico game the studio analysts expressed amazement that Mexico had a goal correctly ruled out for offside. The reason for their amazement? The referee and assistant in question were from Uzbekistan, so would be expected to be clueless. Another praised a referee for a good performance “despite him coming from Japan”. Despite watching Uriah Rennie, Lee Mason and Andre Marriner getting decision after decision wrong every week, referees that aren’t from a major league are useless until they prove otherwise in the eyes of the English media. On the BBC, the panel sneered at the prospect of New Zealand v Slovakia, basically saying they couldn’t understand why anybody would want to see it including Alan Hansen who said he didn’t want to see it, despite being paid £1.4m to watch and analyse games.
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England has won one World Cup, in 1966. Despite this making them only half as successful as Uruguay, England’s fans and media believe this automatically means that they should be considered as part of the games elite with the best nations such as Brazil, Germany, Italy etc.
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Since 1966, Brazil has won 3 World Cups, finished as runners-up once and have appeared in two other semi-finals. Italy has won two World Cups, been runners-up twice and appeared in two other semi-finals. Germany has won two World Cups, been runners-up three times and have appeared in two other semi-finals.
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Let’s contrast that to England who has managed one semi-final appearance, finishing in 4th place, the same as Belgium, Bulgaria and South Korea have managed and worse than Poland, Sweden and Turkey have managed. Yet mention these nations to an England fan and they’ll be unanimous in believing that England have some kind of divine right to beat “the likes of…” as most media commentators say.
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What England’s fans fail to realise is that England are a mid-table international team. They are not good on the ball, have a horribly unbalanced team and with the exception of Rooney, are very light up front. Making the quarter-finals is a realistic ambition for this England team, not winning it as their fans believe.
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I don’t know if it’s a throwback to the days of empire, when Britain was the world’s great superpower, but the England fans are unshakable in believing their team is the best in the world, despite all kinds of evidence to the contrary. Until England and it’s fans can deal with a dose of realism, they will continue in the same self-delusion cycle of failure that always do.