There has never been a better time to witness the constant wailing of the national press than the present underwhelming support the England national team has been given ahead of a major tournament.
The European Football Championships, held jointly by Poland and Ukraine, starts on Friday, yet England’s preparations have been hit by alleged internal feuding within the Football Association and elsewhere.
It started when Wayne Rooney needlessly got himself sent off against Montenegro in their last qualifying group game, in which he was suspended for three games, reduced to two on appeal. Chelsea’s John Terry was accused of alleged racial abuse towards QPR’s Anton Ferdinand during a league game, which saw him been stripped of the captaincy over the head of then manager Fabio Capello, whose public intervention in support of him eventually cost him his job.
Harry Redknapp was stupidly installed by the press as “the fans’ favourite” to succeed Capello, only to see his league side Spurs suffer horrible loss of form, which saw them miss out on Champions’ League qualification. The only option for the FA was to appoint Roy Hodgson from West Brom, a man who has vast international experience, managing several league and national sides and probably one of the few Englishmen in current times to have won any real trophies.
It was understandable that Hodgson was seen as a safe pair of hands, but many of the cards he has dealt with hasn’t been good. Many of the players that wanted in his Euro squad have been hit with injuries and withdrawals on top the Rooney suspension…. and the John Terry controversy refuses to go away after he was picked ahead of Anton’s brother, Man Utd’s Rio. Combined with the fact that the number of English players in the Premier League continues on a downward spiral, Hodgson will have to pick from a reduced talent pool.
It was not just on the pitch that England will face problems. The host countries are angry that a recent controversial BBC TV programme made allegations claiming that many of their supporters racially abuse non-white players…. despite the fact that in England most non-white players are routinely abused at football matches. The fear factor over the team’s chances may have influenced many fans’ decision not to go this time, which is understandable.
This soap opera would have been popular if it was funny… yet it has become the latest embarrassment to the ongoing problems of the English game. No wonder almost every sports commentator, at home and abroad, have been waiting to see the team fail yet again on the international football stage.