I don’t think there’s been quite enough internet comment on England at the World Cup, or at least one or two things haven’t been said…
The England team is a fascinating phenomenon, and two comments I heard on Radio 4 news this morning strengthen my views a little:
A paper in Australia told us that the England team really were of unusual international prominence. I didn’t know that; I’d largely assumed we were interested, just as we were in our Olympic teams that did well but which no other countries watched. Genuine world interest, then, is combined with our national crap-sheet newspapers who undeniably pour unnecessary harmful attention on the players. Both Gerard and Rooney for example have I think a rather more worried demeanour than they’d have in other teams, or than is good for them or our team. There is an optimum level of stress for any task, and too much stress harms complex high-quality performance. Gerard, Rooney and Terry are all different, and vary in their likeability, but if we’d had all three each firing on all four cylinders, instead of Terry having chucked it for non-football reasons, and Rooney being the butt of increasingly unfunny jokes down the years, we wouldn’t have ended up with “null points” by now. All should be able to run onto the pitch in a merry, relatively carefree, and slightly but harmlessly arrogant state of mind, a bit more like most of the other teams. The newer recruits seem less weighed down by all that the wonderful mother country has loaded on to them. That is might not be the experienced players approaching play in a better state of mind, is an obvious problem.
A Canadian paper apparently suggested there was little “craft”, or love of it, being instilled into UK footballers. I’ve always suspected that myself, and the failure to master the continental “ticky-tacky” style (Arsenal and maybe one or two others excepted) is largely because of the misplaced macho requirements many footballers here seem to have endured in their development. Some Brazillians, especially Pele, but others perhaps too, in the past, even had syncopation. It was definitely there, and it can help in sport. (Who can forget that time I tried it at the Southern Section foil that time!) Again though, the younger generation of players seems less worried about not looking too unthuglike.
Then there’s team spirit. I couldn’t help noticing that Rooney for example but no doubt others too, only seem to put real feeling into their celebrations with certain team members. “Partial celebration” was commented on by TV commentators recently. I wouldn’t like to say too much about this phenomenon, and I hope it’s not to do with what I think it is, but I suspect it is. Not sure what to do about it. Maybe time will fix it.
Shoot the editors of the low-class papers;
Make sure young players know it’s more important to sell the dummy well and string over a dozen passes together than to worry about maybe looking “gay”;
And if your team-mate doesn’t look like you, remember it might be because he looks more like Pele than you do (or alright, perhaps more like Messi).