William Henley ?
D H Lawrence perhaps ?
No.... the Football Association.
With incredible incredulity (waited years to get that saying in a passage) the Football Association have gone and...well let's say, given the mighty sporting press and alleged experts of old blighty, a bloody nose.
At time of writing (oooh doesn't that sound all professional, I could get on the Mail or Express at this rate, or just set fire to myself, which sounds more appealing) messrs FA and Hodgson are just an interview away from causing a furore. When going to press, it could all be a done deal. Or it could be a red herring.
Watch this space, as the saying goes.
However, I am not here to decry the FA and their decision makers, though no doubt I will at some point. I am here to question our inbuilt urge to want England to win and ask the reason why ?
Over the years I have been as guilty as anyone of patriotic lunacy and claiming that England where going to win a said World Cup or European Championship. Cheering on the likes of Lampard and Rooney, Robson and Butcher, Channon and Ball does not wear well. But I did it, in the name of England. Time and again I felt let down. Even penalty shootouts did not quash the hurt as I searched through the previous 120 minutes for reasons why my England had not beaten these upstarts placed in front of us.
I thought I had learnt my lesson at a young age, when in 1971 Charlie George broke my heart at Wembley and days of misery followed. A linesmans flag did the same at Highbury the following May, when Tosh's goal was disallowed in the 89th minute giving Cloughie his first league title and taking it away from us. More days of misery and on both occasions the mocking of my blue friends to be taken on board.
But England ?
Both reds and blues and stripes and hoops all wanted the same thing. England to win. Who could we seek solace with ? Nobody, because we all felt horrible those particular nights, we had nobody to disagree with. Nobody to have banter with over should Gazza have pushed himself a tad harder for that tap in at Wembley. Was Shilts too far off his line for Brehmes deflected shot. Why didn't Hunter put that Pole into the stand. Why did Ramsey take Charlton off and let Beckenbauer take over the game. And why didn't Carragher hit his second penalty like he hit his first.
Some of the many issues that became talking points of Englands demise in tournaments.
We had the usual blurb from the press, build our lads up, then slaughter them. They only ever survived a hammering after Italia '90. When realistically, Gazza, Platt and Lineker apart, we where a pretty shoddy side and got very lucky. Even Maradonnas hand of god could not take away the flak. Shilton copped a bunch again and Peter Reid treading water in Diego's wake still makes me laugh. But why didn't Butcher take control and clatter him outside the box ?
All days and nights of pain... but wait a minute. It went away. Quite quickly as I seem to remember. When old enough, beers did the trick, when younger I was outside being Gerd Muller (in my dreams) in the aftermath of an England defeat.
So apart from nationalistic jingoism, do we so desire England to win ?
Though old enough, I do not recall in the slightest, Englands win in '66. So to me England have not won anything in my lifetime. I have supported England since I had to listen to them play Holland in '69 because Emlyn Hughes made his debut. I have supported Liverpool from some time earlier.. 1968 as far as I recall. Not a lifetime supporter.
With Liverpool it's fun. The banter that goes with supporting a club and the ups and down makes football what it is. The flukes, the hidings (given and taken) the offsides, the Bryan Hamilton and Pat Partridge moments make football all what it's supposed to be. And I am sure all supporters have there own tales of woe and tongue in cheek moments at others expense when we got away with one.
With England what do we have ? Tell the World we are champions ? Even in these more cosmopolitan times, do we really know enough people to have a good laugh at and mock ? And would they really care ? The Welsh, Irish and Scots are a given to have a laugh at. But they hate us even when we lose, so rubbing their noses in English glory would fall on deaf ears. Would England get better crowds and less of the prawn sandwich brigade ? No I fear it would bring out more cronies, who would wish to bask in the teams victory.
To me, English victory at European or World level is, though as a team, a more personal thing for the players. They will have the honour of being champions in an England shirt. The goons in the press and media will harp on about a feelgood factor for the country. No, I cannot see more people wanting to get to work and be more productive because Wayne Rooney popped in an 85th minute winner in such or such a final. I can actually see workdays lost because people will be wondering where they spent the night before and trying to put together pieces of a football match they went out to see.
Yes. That is why I want England to win a major Championship. So I can get well and truly whammed, in the name of Football and say, I saw that. Because up to now, I haven't.
So please, in the name of ...oh hold on, that headline has been used once before. Can the Football Association please do the job, they have so kindly voted themselves into, properly.
The furore mentioned earlier ? (yes I do get back to the plot)
The immediate claims from the media, even before Capellos signature was dry on his resignation document, that Harry Redknapp was to be his successor. It came from the gods, so it seemed. But why ?
Harry's track record in football is....shady to say the least. I will not comment (as I could be liable to slander) but his love affairs with teams have been as many as Liz Taylors. Even doing a Richard Burton with Portsmouth. Oh of course, he won the FA Cup with them. But so did Bobby Gould at Wimbledon and Joe Royle at Ev****n, so no doubt they should be in the running for England boss. Yes I am being facetious, but realism is needed here.
Then we hear tonight, that Roy Hodgson is being interviewed for the vacancy. The self acclaimed, "I should be revered in the same way as SAF for all the success I have had in Europe, but the English press always go on about my time at Blackburn"
So let's see what Roy has done. Well apart from, in the words of Tommy Docherty "he's had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus" he has taken two clubs to UEFA/Europa league finals, losing both. He has won league titles in those hotbeds of football Sweden and Denmark (but didn't Bob Houghton take Malmo to the European Cup Final, Roy didn't, just a thought) and of course he has managed both The Swiss and Finnish national sides. I am sure SAF is quaking in his boots when it comes to whose the better boss arguments. Roy who ?
In my quest to get severely plastered watching England win a championship, I beg of the FA to get away from the conservatism that cost Brian Clough the job in the '70s and '80s leave KD Lang to wear the comfortable shoes and grow a pair.
In my humble opinion the FA have two options. One which I have championed for many a year and the closest we came to it was Glenn Hoddle. Place a young man in the job. Give him 6 to 8 years on a contract and a commitment that he doesn't get the sack for a few defeats or on the whim of our impatient press. Give him the back up of ex pros in specialist roles.. eg shearer as strikers coach, seaman as keepers coach. Recent ex pros who know the game and who have bigger egos than the players. I have heard some names mentioned tonight, but seeing, as on a point of principle I would not have a Scot, Alan Pardew seems to be a good choice and quite popular. But that is not a given from me... I am open on that subject, but run along the same lines.
Or do as I would do and hand over the keys to Wembley and say get on with it, to Jose Mourinho. And ask him to keep the place tidy for their return.
Then maybe the Special one will bring about the biggest booze up this country has seen in years, which is really all we want.
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