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

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
F D R and Eleanor, both facing camera, in Warm Springs, Georgia in 1938  

Where are today's Roosevelts?

Rupert Cornwell
 

Now back to the big question: what's wrong with the eurozone?

Hamish McRae
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam