For anyone wearing an "Anyone but England", in answer to the question "who will win the World Cup", you've been proven right - no surprises there. As a realistic football fan, for me, it's not the winning, it's the taking part. And taking part in playing a football match assumes knowing what to do with the ball. And there was scant evidence of that from England's four "performances". Customs at Heathrow should charge these players with "impersonating footballers", and their passports confiscated so they can't do it again.
I first went to a football match in 1962. It was Portsmouth v Cardiff, I was 7, and I've been stuck with Pompey ever since. Suffering since 1962, I've followed the ups and downs of local, league, national and international football. But I can't remember ever feeling so let down by any team as much as by the current pathetic England team. And by "current", I mean the players who represented our country in the four games in the World Cup finals. If I was running England football they would no longer be the current team, I would tell the old guard right now that they are the past, and bring in completely new players, planning for 2012 and 2014.
I would much rather see keen, talented, fit, young players given a chance, than suffer more from the rich, famous and useless familiar faces. England's FIFA ranking hovers around the top 20, and we shouldn't expect them to win the trophy. I've been round the block enough times to have modest expectations, and settle for "valiant losers". But this current England team couldn't beat an average USA team, or soccer giants Algeria, but we were expected to rejoice when we managed to thrash modest Slovenia (pop 2M) by 1-0. Thank goodness the Germans were not on top form, and we escaped with a mild 4-1 beating. Our "world class" players seemed unable to perform, and our less talented players were cruelly exposed on a world stage.
I feel sorry for the England supporters who invested thousands of their money (a third of their annual income?), all their annual leave, and a heart full of emotion, in their beloved England team. Being a football supporter is always a risky business, with so few winners and so many losers. But to fall so far short of adequate is an insult to the travelling fans, especially when the players are paid £50k and more a week. As for Rooney complaining about the supporters voicing their opinions........
I don't know what is wrong with these guys, but then I'm merely a fan. Brian Clough said he only did man management. He didn't bother with team tactics. He considered that football is a simple game, and that his players were professional footballers who didn't need to be told how to play the game. Don't sack Fabio, he knows what he's doing and has won lots, just sack the players.
Today's "The Times" had an obituary for England's football stars, quoting Auden:
"The stars are not wanted now: put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods,
For nothing now can ever come to any good."
Bury the yesterday men, and start again.
(photo of Church Walk, Colchester, on St George's Day) (and yes, I know people wear "Anyone but England" shirts for other reasons.....)