Football's not coming home: Pride in the national game has floundered beyond belief

The concept of English football barely exists these days

Share
Related Topics

On Friday night, the English football team are playing a crucial game against Montenegro as they seek to qualify for next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil. It's not exactly the most daunting task for the representatives of our national game, but, while we've savoured many and diverse sporting glories these past few years, the England football team have provided very few - if any - of them. So nothing is certain at Wembley.

The “30 years of hurt” we sang about in 1996 has now become almost half a century of hurt and, even if we get to Brazil, no one seriously believes that England will make an impression on the tournament. Do we, and should we, care? Well, no and yes.

We don't care because the concept of English football barely exists these days. For most of us who support a Premier League club, the hiatus in the season created by international fixtures is an inconvenience, an interruption to our rich diet of Super Sundays, of pumped and primped millionaires contesting bragging rights on behalf of foreign billionaires.

The Premier League has become so inflated that it consumes all in its path. This is still a male-dominated world, and we all know that men can't concentrate on two things at the same time. So I cannot be alone in concluding that, if given the choice between Manchester City winning the Premier League and England winning the World Cup, I would unhesitatingly choose the former. Players choose their club before their country, so why shouldn't fans do the same?

It is peculiarly counter-intuitive in the modern world: we are driven towards association with ever bigger global entities and brands - Europe, the G20, Amazon, Apple - but in this instance we narrow our focus, and identify with the local rather than the national. Of course, there's nothing parochial about our domestic football. When our teams have a bad night in European competition, it's billed as a setback for English football. Really? Manchester City were thrashed by Bayern Munich the other week, and only two English players were in the starting XI. But this collection of Argentines, Spaniards and Eastern Europeans might as well, in our eyes, be from Colyhurst or Whalley Range, representing our club, representing our city.

Questions of birth only matter when it comes to international football, and even then we're prepared to manipulate the rules (hence the efforts to get Manchester United's new wunderkind Adnan Januzaj, a teenager born in Brussels of Albanian/Kosovan parentage, to opt for England on residency grounds). We can't halt the Premier League juggernaut, but we should care about what is left in its wake. Football is our national game, and it matters to us in a way that other sports just don't.

We take pride in the recognition that the Premier League is regarded as the toughest competition in the world. But it is as much owned by foreign companies as our water and our electricity. We would like to take pride in the England team, but we cannot any longer allow ourselves. For one, we've been seduced by the gazillions and the glamour. And for two, we can't face another 50 years of hurt.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: a duchess by any other name is just wrong

Guy Keleny
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor