Tag: England

Hope & Despair, Or, Why Stuart Pearce Cannot Succeed As The England Manager

Amid all the bluster about Englands match against the Netherlands last night (a match already being described by some as “That Thing That Happened At Wembley”), Mark Critchley thinks that he may have spotted the real reason why Stuart Pearce cannot succeed as the England manager. To be English is to be afflicted. History’s ever-unravelling twine simply doesn’t have the courtesy to cut this seat of Mars a bit of slack, and thanks to Western civilisation’s added prejudice against demographics of a largely white, heterosexual and male background, the England football team understand this more than most. Gary Lineker, in his documentary Can England Win the Next World Cup? opined ‘there are all sorts of reasons why we’ve been so unsuccessful for so long’. No Gary, there is only one. It is not because our coaching structures are as unmanned as a Maeve Binchy appreciation evening on Sputnik 1. It is not because our children are told to, God forbid, win the Kelly’s Erotic Cakes Junior County Challenge Cup and liquidise the skulls of any kid tactically astute enough to get in their way. And you know what, it is not because the media in this country chum up to dumb young prodigies, capitalise on any microscopic failure of theirs and then slip them the required change for their final, cortex-collapsing can of Tennent’s Super. No, it’s none of...

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Scott Parker Versus The World

We live in polarised times. Rather than opening people up to new worlds and new experiences, the internet has allowed us to retreat into tiny enclaves of people who feel the same as we do and draw up the barricades. There is little room for subtlety or nuance in our debates any more, since the only voices to get themselves lifted above the background hum of noise are the most extreme from either end. So it was that last night’s friendly match between a patchwork England side and an ominously strong looking Netherlands side was unlikely to be seen for what it was – a curiously unique experiment in which a team is thrown together under the watchful eye of a manager of whom expectations could hardly have been any lower than they were and with a captain for whom even starting international has previously been a rare treat rather than a birth-right. The scale ahead of whoever takes England through to the European Championships was made perfectly clear last night, though. An experienced Dutch team seemed to move out of second gear twice in the entire match. The first time they did this, they scored twice inside sixty seconds, and the second time saw them snatch a winning goal at the very end of the match. Between these goals, England had shown an admirable resolve in pulling themselves...

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European Championship Stories: 1980 – The Decline & Fall Of English Football

On the twelfth of June 1980, England played Belgium in the finals of the European Championships – their first match in the finals of a major tournament for ten years. It turned out to be a match that acted as a barometer for the state of the game in England in several different respects, and none of them were particularly positive. On the pitch, Ron Greenwood’s team laboured to a 1-1 draw against a moderate Belgium side, but it was events away from the pitch that grabbed most of the headlines the following day, as serious crowd disturbances disrupted the match with the Italian police firing tear gas into the crowd behind one goal, leading to play being held up for five minutes during the first half. How, though, had things come to this? Trouble amongst spectators is almost as old as the game itself, with reports of disorder – including referees being attacked at matches – from as long ago as the nineteenth century. Such incidents were relatively low-key, however, and the post-war attendance boom in England didn’t lead to significantly higher levels of disorder. As well as this, it is worth bearing in mind that outbreaks of hooliganism are – and always have been – far from unique to England or Britain. What was different about England – or, in some respects, Britain – was that they exported their...

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Fabio Capello Was The Least Of England’s Intractable Problems

Welcome to English football in 2012. The captain of the national team faces a criminal charge for the use of racially aggravated abuse during a Premier League match. Five months after the event, the FA announce that this player will be stripped of the captaincy without, it would appear, having consulted the manager. Four months before the start of a major tournament, the manager resigns on the same that the man expected to replace him is acquitted in court of tax evasion charges. Captainless, managerless and rudderless, the good ship England will sail on to the finals of the European Championships having proved the one fundamental truth that we all know about the state of the game in this country at the moment – if there is a way of taking a situation and making it worse, we will, somehow, find it. The screamingly obvious question to come from last night’s resignation of Fabio Capello from the England manager’s position us that of whether anybody within the FA actually knew anything about Capello when they appointed him in the first place or listened to anything that he said during his tenure. If there is one thing, one thing alone, that we all knew about Capello when he took the job is that he is a disciplinarian and an authoritarian. It is emphatically not a comment on the rights or wrongs...

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Capello Out – Enter The Barwick-O-Tron (Again)

So, Fabio Capello quits as the England national coach. This is, perhaps, unsurprising considering the dog’s abuse that he has taken while leading the national team through an almost flawless qualification campaign, before finding that the decision over who would take the England captain’s arm-band was taken away from him without consultation. It may be some time before we find out exactly what was said at this afternoon’s meeting between Capello and the FA chairman David Bernstein from the FA itself, but Capello might not be so tight-lipped – it has  it already been reported that Capello has this evening told the press that, “The England FA really insulted me and damaged my authority.” The FA’s statement on the subject is, perhaps predictably, giving little away on the subject in its official statement on the matter, other than that his resignation was tendered and accepted. The whys and wherefores, however, are probably for another day. The effect remains the same. Yet again, the England manager’s seat is empty and the FA look s little foolish, even if they were acting with the best of intentions over the John Terry matter. With this, the fevered speculation begins again. Harry Redknapp, who was acquitted of tax evasion charges earlier today, will doubtlessly be the bookmakers’ favourite for the job, but nothing is decided yet and the FA may choose to put a...

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