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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Rant Before the Storm

Warning: This article contains themes and images some readers may find upsetting.

There is a genuine panic engulfing England’s tree surgeons right now. They are shitting themselves by all accounts. As if one root and branch overview wasn’t enough to drive them to distraction, the latest one that threatens to be unleashed could be the final straw. Former chief executive of the FA Brian Barwick made sure, two years ago, that his big fat salary wasn’t wasted by creating a shortlist of managers for the England managerial position. Showing the kind of footballing insight that makes the FA the envy of the world, Barwick left no branch or root unturned in identifying the best possible candidates. Sir Alex Ferguson? He’s good isn’t he. Arsene Wenger? Arsenal play nice stuff. Jose Mourinho? Bit of an attitude but he seems to be doing well. Fabio Capello? I think I heard him mentioned on Sky Sports News once. Fresh from completing his rocket science degree, Barwick painstakingly whittled down the shortlist to one. “A winner with a capital W,” he purred back in December 2007.

Barwick, buoyed by a job well done, went further: "We have talked about root and branch (reform) and there has been some scepticism about whether we'll see that through and whether it was just a smokescreen. It wasn't. The FA's strategic review will be published in March 2008 and it will take us through the next five years.” Which leads me to my central point. It is an ABSOLUTE SHAMBLES that English football is suddenly back in the same place it was two years ago. Steve McLaren’s inadequacies as England coach were supposed to spawn a genuine intelligent debate. What happened to the ‘root and branch’ overview? What happened to the national football centre at Burton? Why is this still more or less the same team as 2008? Why are we waterboarded with so much hype that it is hard to see the roots for the branches? [Note: We will address these questions when Bushby has stopped shaking and shouting and waving his arms.]

Football can be a cruel mistress but this summer it has been a right cow. Gary Lineker and the two Alans assured me things could only get better after the group stages. I believed them. They told me Germany were an average side. I almost believed them. They told me that ‘on paper’ only Philip Lahm and perhaps Mesut Ozil would get in the England side. I didn’t believe them. But still I had hype, sorry, hope, that we’d win.

Oles after 75 minutes and at 4-1 down, I realised that I wasn’t sad, I was just very angry. Angry with a generation of pampered prima donnas who blew the easiest route to the semi final they could ever wish for and angry with the fact that I almost allowed myself to be lulled into a very English false sense of security, that this almost mythical ‘English spirit’ would see us right.

So what now? Maybe we should turn to The Sun. That bastion of level-headedness amid the madness. The paper that declared for two months that we could win the World Cup. Presumably because they had never watched any of the other sides play (this genuinely would not surprise me). I almost have a breakdown every time I think of that E.A.S.Y headline. The old red top is back to its stirring best in the wake of the farce in Rustenburg. It is positively SEETHING with righteous indignation. Bloody foreigners coming over here, taking our jobs. Capello? Who is he? Crapello more like. Get Beckham in they scream. Get Fat Sam in. English, through and through. Bull dog spirit. They dream of Spitfires, these boys. They eat pie and mash. Foreigners will never understand us. We won a World Cup once don’t you know. And lo and behold – English manager. Never mind the fact that we aren’t producing quality young players with anywhere near the regularity of the top nations. Never mind that maybe, just maybe, a team will perform better when shorn of its egos. Never mind that a ‘Golden Generation’ has contrived to secure two quarter-final defeats, a last-16 defeat and a ‘did not qualify’ in its last four tournaments. Golden in exactly what way? Can someone explain? ON PAPER? Ah, that must be it. ON PAPER, England have won the last two World Cups.

You know what; the amount of narrow-minded idiots I have spoken to about England and this stupid cult of personality that Sky Sports/the tabloids have propagated around the likes of Lampard, Gerrard, Rooney and Terry makes me just think ‘fuck it’. Give the people what they want. Give them ‘Arry, with Fat Sam and Brave Terry Butcher as his lieutenants. Let the boys get pissed during tournaments. After all, they need to ‘unwind’. That the Spanish, Brazilians, Dutch or Germans don’t do this is irrelevant. It’s the ‘English Way’. Get El Tel back as well while we are at it. Get some big money card schools going. Get fucking James Corden out there as motivational manager; he did a good job for Sport Relief and he gets on with the players. Ten pints of Stella after beating Slovenia. That would have helped. A few strippers too. Think Manchester United’s Christmas party. You know what, the English Way sounds great. The pressure would be off. We’d win the World Cup. All of the people can’t be wrong all of the time. Adam Bushby

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