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In England’s Defence…

Same Old, Same Old.

“England return to the dark ages.” – Guardian

“England huff and puff in vain.” – Sky Sports

“England revisit bad old days of World Cup…” – Independent

“How depressing. How embarrassing.” – Henry Winter

and my personal favourite:

“You’re the Fool Monte, Fabio” – The Sun

On a night where Scotland gave World and European champions Spain a scare and hooliganism from Serbian ‘ultra’s’ caused a European qualifier to be abandoned after just seven minutes England’s mainstream media ran with the previous headlines. The same old calls and same old ‘Winterisms’ were being promoted shamelessly by all and sundry, denouncing the big wigs at Wembley, bemoaning the need for an English manager to lead our stuttering Lions. There seems to be only one saviour: Harry Redknapp, and if that is the case then God help us all.

DURING the World Cup the media blamed Fabio’s choice of formation. 4-4-2 has outgrown it’s use in the modern game apparently, only an archaic manager would carry on using such an ancient tactic especially in Europe despite the fact Ferguson’s Utd, van Gaal’s Champion’s league finalists Bayern and Quique Flores’ Europa league champions Atlético are all keen advocates of the system.

AFTER the World Cup Capello’s selection policy came under fire. Adam Johnson, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and especially, much to Henry Winter’s delight, a certain Mr Rodwell had all (apparently) done enough to merit not only a squad place but should of been replacing the ineffective, unpatriotic and overpaid athletes posing as pro footballers. All this despite Johnson, Wilshere and Rodwell lacking any real top flight experience. It’s easy to look back at the poor performances of our boys and wish we had taken more of a gamble. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but flatters those who are willing to state the obvious and call it insight.

With the slightly disappointing performance against Montenegro came the predictable knee-jerk reactions calling for Capello’s head and the installment of a good, traditional, made in Britain manager as if describing the virtues of a Sainsbury’s beef joint. For me it’s a joke. If the manager is good enough then nationality means squat. Are the players really going to be anymore motivated at a World Cup if they are under an English manager than an Italian? No chance. Communication has only been highlighted as an issue since performances turned sour. Would I prefer to win a major tournament with an Englishmen at the helm? Definitely. Would I accept a lesser manager to get there? Never.

The criticism doesn’t stand up for me. BEFORE the World Cup Fabio could of walked up to 10 Downing Street and taken the keys to Mr Brown’s drinking cabinet with no questions asked. Fabio was untouchable.

P      W       D      L      F      A      PTS

10      9         0       1     34      6        27

Anyone seeing those stats knew that England were a force to be reckoned with. Wayne Rooney was being heralded as one of the best strikers in the world, add to that a midfield line-up that appeared to be working for each other and a defence that had only conceded six goals in total and suddenly the media had grown quiet. No one was calling for Fabio’s contract to be ripped up, the papers didn’t seem to be complaining about the 4-4-2 formation and TALKsport weren’t taking calls asking what the naive Italian was doing playing Barry instead of Rodwell.

Maybe I’m a close-minded England fan, blindly patriotic and ignorant of the ‘facts’ before me. It is not our God-given right to qualify for every international tournament. We don’t have the depth that a truly great team like Spain has. Our top players under perform at the highest level. All of the previous are common criticisms against the national team and whilst I generally agree with these statements it has been far  too long since the media and public sporting figures approached the performances and tactics of England with balance, composure and discernment. No longer are England players judged by their on the pitch merits but instead spend half their time looking for the bulls-eye painted on their backs.

Whilst, like any England fan, I get frustrated at England’s lacklustre performances and under achievements in major tournaments I still believe in balance. I rise and fall, gasp and shout, cry and laugh in the unique journey that is being a England football fan but I refuse to jump on the easy bandwagon of fickleness and ignore all of the performances and moments of joy experienced along the way. Two months ago we were praising England for their performance against the Swiss and today we read about the rotten core of our national game and are asked how it has remained unchecked for this long.

All I can ask is how have the media remained this unaccountable all this time?

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