I think far too much expectation is placed on England, and am not entirely sure what it is based on. They have played in as many major tournament Finals as Greece, Hungary and Denmark, yet undoubtedly consider themselves far superior.
The Czechs have been involved in two European Championship finals and two World Cup finals, yet I very much doubt that their media consider themselves as international heavyweights.
ENGLAND HAVE NEVER BEEN HEAVYWEIGHTS
For me, the true heavyweights of World Football are Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany and Spain have come into the equation recently. Holland and France seem to skip a generation when it comes to great teams.
The World Cup in 1966 aside, even when England do “succeed” at a major tournament (Euro 96/Italia 90) it is through luck more than anything else.
In Italia 90, they were lucky to get through a pretty mediocre group. They then won games against Cameroon and Belgium in which they were outplayed for long periods.
- Why are England always perceived to have failed? Part 1 of 5
- Why are England always perceived to have failed? Part 2 of 5
- Why are England always perceived to have failed? Part 3 of 5
- Why are England always perceived to have failed? Part 5 of 5
At Euro 96, they required a penalty save and a moment of Gascoigne brilliance to see off the mighty Scots, before a much overhyped victory against a Dutch side in mutinous disarray. Some dubious off-side decisions saved them against Spain in the quarters, and then (fair play to them) they played well against Germany.
Either way, they were far from vintage performances in which England were masterful throughout and I defy even the staunchest England fan to try and put forward a case for England being deserving winners of either tournament.
ENGLAND ALWAYS HAVE AN EXCUSE
More often than not, when England are eliminated from a tournament, there is always some underlying reason/excuse as to why they have lost. It is very rare for the players or the media to actually hold their hands up and say “We lost to the better team”.
Even after the 4-1 humbling against Germany in South Africa 2010, the overlying sentiment was that had Frank Lampard’s goal not been disallowed, then the outcome would have been quite different. It is immaterial that Germany had controlled the game from start to finish for the full 90 minutes.
With that match in mind, another point has to be made; in the build up to the game many of the allegedly expert pundits made the bold claim 'man for man, this England side is better than the German side'.
On what is this rose-tinted nonsense based on? Is it the success of English club sides? If so, then surely even Stevie Wonder would be able to see that English clubs succeed due to the quality provided by the foreign imports and as such, the success of the Premier League should not necessarily lead to a successful national side.
LOW EXPECTATIONS BEFORE BRAZIL WERE INSINCERE
Prior to this World Cup, the media seemed to be collectively agreed that England would not win the World Cup. Some were saying that the quarter-finals would be the absolute limit, whilst others were predicting the early exit that eventually took place.
However, this seemed to me to be a deliberate act of pessimism to quell the pressure on the players and expectation of some fans, rather than a genuine belief. I truly believe these days that merely qualifying for a major tournament is a success for England, and that once they arrive at said tournament, there should be absolutely no pressure on them whatsoever to achieve.
It is not their fault that they are handsomely paid; it is not their fault that their club sides are successful due to the influx of better players from abroad; it is not their fault that nearly 50 years ago England won the World Cup, thusly providing the mistaken belief that they would be big players in years to come.
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