Monday, 13 February 2012

An English national team to be proud of please?

What is it about English national sport teams? Is there something inherent that makes us want to self-destruct, and demolish what last shred of hope of success we might otherwise have? Have the powers that be decided that if there is any chance, however slim, of us actually performing well at a major tournament, something must be done to disrupt it?

Twelve months ago England's rugby team were storming to the Six Nations with home wins over France, Scotland and Italy, as well as an impressive victory in Wales. The likes of Youngs, Foden and Ashton were setting the tournament alight with pace and power, while Flood & Wilkinson missed less kicks in total (3) than in the first match of the World Cup (5) against ArgentinaIt was with realistic optimism that we headed to New Zealand - expecting at least to threaten the latter stages. Instead, an embarrassment both on and off the field which ultimately led to the demise of an all-time England legend, Wilkinson, alongside the likes of Tindall, Moody and Easter. An ignominious end for those who have previously performed so admirably for us in the past.

And now we are celebrating gritty and unconvincing wins over Scotland and Italy as positive signs of rebuilding and a new era. However true it may be, it seems something of a shame to be having to talk this way about our national team, and so soon after we claimed the Six Nations title with relative ease.

And what of the mighty Three Lions? I don't think anyone is under the illusion that our national football team have the slightest chance against the likes of Spain and Germany in the European Championships this summer, whoever's in charge at the time. One shambles after another regarding the captaincy, with John Terry now twice stripped of the position, only exceeded in its absurdity by the state of our managerial situation. An Italian who clearly didn't want to be there and didn't exactly seem devastated to be leaving, not least after his position was so thoroughly undermined by the FA removing his captain without so much as a "what do you think Fabio?"

Where does it leave us going forward? There is such a clamour for an English manager, and Harry Redknapp in particular, that's it's hard to see how they FA could resist, even with the likes of Hiddink in the running. What we need is a sense of togetherness, a team unity and passion that's been absent from the national team disrupted by pathetic squabbles, ill-discipline and perpetual minor issues. Whoever can do that for us, I can say for us all, we'll be behind them. For me, I want Stuart Pearce but let's just see...