Tag: England

England’s World Cup Draw Should Demonstrate Their Limitations

At least, we might reflect, expectations had already been lowered to such an extent that there can barely be anybody left on the face of the entire planet who believes in any seriousness that England will win the World Cup in Brazil next summer. It’s not a matter of being fatalist or of showing false modesty. The evidence has been right there before our very eyes for a considerable amount of time, and England supporters now making their plans for the tournament next summer can do so with a carefree attitude, finally freed of the last vestiges of that old albatross called Expectation. As if having perhaps their most mediocre squad of players in living memory wasn’t enough to recalibrate the expectations of those who have never quite gotten to grips with the fact that those pesky foreigners are now considerably better at playing association football than the English themselves are, the prospect of a difficult drawin difficult conditions now awaits. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. The overwhelming majority of England supporters and well-wishers have long watched their national team’s matches through the gaps between their fingers, whilst accusations of “English arrogance” frequently come from those who are desperate for the English to live down to their expectations of them, with very little other supporting evidence other than the worst excesses of the tabloid press and what...

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Sixty Years Ago Today: England Brought Down To Earth By Magnificent Magyars

Seldom has there been one match that has come to define the fortunes of two football nations as appropiately as the afternoon in November 1953 when the Hungarians landed in London. The shock and horror with which the result that afternoon was greeted, however, also indicated the begnning of another trait in the history of the English national team, a brief period of turbulence followed by relative inactivity and plenty more of the same, underwhelming football and – with one, brief, glittering exception – a familiar feeling of relative under-achievement. In short, the twenty-fifth of November 1953 was the English national football team was found out, by a mass audience, for the first time. For those who paid close enough attention, the signs of decline had been clear for several years. In 1949, the Republic of Ireland became the first non-Home Nation to beat England away from home, when they won by two goals to nil at Goodison Park. A year later, a considerably more seismic shock should have hit the Football Association when the United States of America beat England by a single goal during the World Cup finals in Belo Horizonte. A complete lack of television coverage and minimal newpaper coverage, however, meant that the myth of innate English superiority was allowed to further fester. On the other side of Europe, however, a sporting revolution had begun...

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Spacemonkeygate: Or, How To Create An Omnishambles Within Twenty-Four Hours

If only, we might pause to reflect, he had used the name ‘Laika’ instead. At least that way around we might have been spared the acres and acres of coverage that we have been subjected to since around about half past ten last night. There is, in a perverse way, almost something comforting about something relating to the England national football team being plunged back into CRISIS via a combination of, depending on who you believe, anything up to three or four different sources. The previous twenty-four hours of relative serenity had all been most un-English, and at least we can probably all agree that, whether this is a non-story or not, at least abnormal service has been restored. The planets are back in alignment, or, to put it another way, the circus is back in town. To try – and merely typing these words is enough to make the heart simultaneously sink towards the stomach and leap to the throat – and make some sort of sense of this story, we should probably have a go at sorting the wheat from the chaff, because there’s a lot of white noise out there at the moment.. So, what probably does matter in terms of this story, and what probably doesn’t? Things That Probably Don’t Matter The joke itself wasn’t that funny: Well, it should be perfectly self-evident to anybody...

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A Healthy Sense Of Perspective For England

Forty years ago this week, at the same stadium and against the same opposition, English football suffered one of its least dignified nights yet, to that point. Laying siege to the Polish goal in the manner of [insert clumsy and highly insensitive war analogy here], they could only force the ball over the visiting goal line once, and that, it turned out, was not enough to edge through to the finals in West Germant. In truth, though,it wasn’t the result at Wembley that night that eliminated the team from the 1974 World Cup. An anaemic two-nil defeat in Chorzow some months earlier had been plenty enough to make qualification at a time during which only group winners survived the cut, but the psychological damage was done as the players trudged from the sodden Wembley turf that night. Less than eight years earlier, Alf Ramsey’s team had been the champions of the world. In West Germany in 1974 they would have their faces pressed against the window of the party, looking in. A lot was written about that night in the build up to last night’s match between England and Poland. Something, opined a lot of very clever people with very clever things to say, was in the air. The decks had been cleared and the fall guys had been set up, Roy Hodgson for being Roy Hodgson and not...

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An Impossible Job: Twenty Years On

Incredibly (face it, they’re a dreadful shower) it’s 20 years this week since England last failed to qualify for a World Cup Finals. Consequently there will be quite a number of you reading this who don’t remember, or perhaps weren’t even born to witness, the terrible scenes that ensued. Five days national mourning. Stock markets in Tokyo teetered on the brink. Traditionally, one might write “people who were born on that day would be shaving now”, but I feel that it is both reductive and sexist. As well as being fundamentally inaccurate – all 20 year old boys these...

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