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Monday, 14 June 2010

USA 1 - English Arrogance 0

The Sun ran the headline ‘England Algeria Slovenia Yanks’ the day after the World Cup draw had been made. England Algeria Slovenia Yanks, vertically down the page. EASY. My fury at the time at this show of preposterous arrogance was replaced by self indulgence on Saturday night when I basked in a spot of ‘I told you so’ arrogance myself. The Americans are NOT a bad side. Not a bad side at all. They are the last side to beat Spain. We haven’t beaten Spain since 2001. Last summer at the Confederations Cup where the Americans secured their famous win, they also very nearly beat Brazil in the final, contriving to throw away a two-goal lead.

As the pages of this blog warned only last week, England’s opener would not be the foregone conclusion many implausibly ignorant observers would have you believe. And it was so. Anecdotally at least, however, I still feel that the consensus of opinion is still overwhelmingly that England will walk the group by thrashing the whipping boys, before strolling past Serbia or more than likely, Ghana in the last 16, before thumping a sad French side seemingly wracked by infighting to set up a face-off against an actual team, Brazil, in the semis. Let me just hammer that home. ENGLAND ARE GOING TO STROLL INTO THE SEMI FINALS OF THE WORLD CUP. What planet do people live on?

Because I now run the very real risk of giving myself an ulcer, all I can do as a humble blogger is lay down a few facts. In the last four World Cups, England have beaten Colombia, Tunisia, Denmark, Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago and Argentina. We have drawn with Nigeria, Sweden twice and the USA. We have lost to Argentina, Portugal (both on penalties), Brazil and Romania. We haven’t beaten Holland since Euro ’96, which was the last time we had a genuine chance of winning a major tournament. England have lost their past three friendlies to Spain, all in the noughties. You have to look even further back to find when England last beat the Brazilians – a friendly in 1990. A victory against the French last came 13 years ago in La Tournoi in 1997. It is also at that same warm up tournament that England last beat the holders, Italy.

Before yesterday’s hugely impressive pasting of the Aussies, the Germans had been written off wholesale by the English. We are talking about a side that has got to a final and a semi in the last two tournaments and hasn’t dropped out of a World Cup before the quarter final stage since 1938. Our so-called ‘Golden Generation’ (and if I had bigger apostrophes I would use them) would kill for a record like that. England’s last two competitive tournaments featuring ‘Golden Generation’ cast: quarter finals and didn’t qualify.

Please print off this article and hand it to any England fan you know who thinks we are going to stroll into the semis. I know I sound like Kevin Killjoy, but I like to think of myself more as a Roy of the Realists. A solitary World Cup win on home soil 44 years ago a footballing superpower does not make. Imagine going out on the piss with some Uruguayans and after their third pint they are banging on about winning one more World Cup than you and you get the gist of the interminable hype that surrounds England every time there is a major tournament. Unsurprisingly, none of the facts mentioned above were dwelt upon over the weekend by the ITV or BBC teams. But one DID keep cropping up. England drew their first game against Uruguay in 1966. So obviously, if you put two and two together you come up with 2010, in which case a draw against the States means a World Cup win. Incredible analysis from our boys there. The amount of crap fed to the English public by the bullshit brigade is astounding. Headed most audibly by Adrian Chiles and Kevin Keegan, the latter predicted a 4-1 England win on Saturday. And he packed in his job in 2000 why? This is a man who goes into a grocers to buy a pound of apples and come out with a bag full of onions.

As it stands now, the focus needs to be on the next game. Not Ghana in the next round. Or France. Or Brazil. Or Spain in the final. But Algeria. On Friday, England need to win. Then, and only then, they can look to the Slovenia game. As clichés go, ‘taking each game as it comes’ could not be more apt right now. House in order first, knockout stages later, if only for my own sanity. Adam Bushby


  1. It's refreshing to read an article that does not exaggerate England's chances.

  2. 'We haven’t beaten Spain since 1996 and even then it was on penalties'

    Correction, we beat them 4-0 in Eriksson'd first game in charge

    Also, we beat Colombia in 1998, not Columbia as you suggest; I'm not saying that makes England a top-class footballing nation but beating a country is generally considered to be more impressive than beating a US state.

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  4. My first post was a bit too rude for co-editor Rob. Anyway, thanks to Peter Pedant above for putting this blogger well and truly in his place. Medal for Outstanding Pedantry in the post. Just one small point for Peter - we beat Spain 3-0 in Sven's first game. Being a full-time pedant is a tough job, I admit. Ad.

  5. 'Eriksson'd' ???

    Mate if you're gonna be a pedant it's gotta be watertight.

  6. To anonymous:

    In fact, beating Columbia 4-0 is actually quite an achievement since there is no actual US state named Columbia. There is a district of Columbia, (home to Washington), but it is not one of the "lower 48". And here I thought thatcross-continatal ignorance was purely an Americanism...;)

  7. You miss the fact EASY headlines are nothing to do with vague ideas of what might happen.
    It's all part of the game of having a proper narrative to sell more papers or Adrian Chiles fright masks. (one side here: Given the assumption that ITV coverage is just alway crap, is he a shining light in the swill or a shiny poo?)

    The idea is get everyone excited and buying flags for their cars and then watch the fall from grace.

    Which is fine, as long as you realise the 'england fan experience' TM is artificial and the inequities we face on the march to glory are not created by damnable foriegners or one of our own failing morally (sloppy hands or lkicky legs etc), but by the team being not that good really).

    But being part of the 'England fan experience' is more fun.
    So long live EASY headlines! Long live unreality! Long live fun!

    (Also, since when has this been a golden generation? Suddenly the term has appeared and isn't really questioned. Unless this is a different meaning of golden, as in showers?)

  8. "We haven’t beaten Holland since Euro ’96, which was the last time we had a genuine chance of winning a major tournament."

    Didn't we have an underwhelming 1-1 draw at the beginning of that tournament?

    I'm all for being a realist but it's a bit early to write us off after a shaky start

  9. Typical press jumping slagging off our chances after failing to demolish what is inf act a pretty decent team.

    Nice to see our blogger jumping on the bandwagon too. If I am to be labelled Peter Pedant can we call him Bandwagon Bushby?

  10. Exactly how am I jumping on the bandwagon Mr Pedant? I have merely called it as I see it - that the arrogance in large swathes of the media and among supporters was met head on with reality on Saturday. If I was jumping on a bandwagon, I would have talked up our chances before the game, which if you read prior blog posts, you will find I haven't (the previous two posts in fact are a) Gerrard and Lampard doesn’t work and b) The USA are quite handy). I genuinely want England to win. I'm English, of course I do. But I do object to sides like the States being written off before they meet the 'Mighty English' when we have one tournament win under our belt in our history, 44 years ago.