Friday, March 28, 2008


734 reasons why England aren't good enough

Paul Robinson, David James, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Frank Lampard. Owen Hargreaves, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Joe Cole, Peter Crouch, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen.

Between them these unlikely lads have amassed an impressive 734 caps playing for England. Only Crouch and James have played less than 40 times for their country.

These players have formed the backbone of England's failed 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 campaigns. They now look like forming the rump of Fabio Capello's squad as he builds for 2010.

They have not been good enough for several years, they are serial failures at international level, if they were pit ponies they would be humanely put out to pasture. But while they can be put out of their misery no one can put England fans out of theirs.

The cycle of hype, debacle and inquistion shows no sign of ending any time soon. But, amazingly, poor saps are still willing to paint flags on their faces, sing a long to brass bands and buy the official shirt as well as queuing up to pay upwards of 30 quid to see glamour friendlies against the likes of Switzerland and the US at Wembley.

Will fans ever tire of the drudgery served up by the national side and the dissection that follows any poor performance? I did, many years ago. Now I live in a country where a section of the footballing public prefer to follow England rather than their own national side.

Napolean, looking across the channel 200 years ago, described us once as a nation of shopkeepers and maybe he was right. We can market any old dross and people around the world believe the hype and lap it up.

Paris on Wednesday was about two things. Beckham's 100th cap and a new shirt.

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