Why aren't we that bothered about the World Cup?

There is a calmer approach this time around. Maybe we've learned from history

Share

If the definition of insanity, as Einstein first contended, is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result, then, as a nation, we are a model of sanity. Ever since I can remember - specifically 1966, when I was at primary school, we English have approached a football World Cup with varying degrees of hope, expectation and even entitlement. Each time, the outcome has been the same. The methods by which we secured failure may have been different, but, time and again, our national representatives have come home with nothing more than a suntan, a hangover and a few signed shirts.

Occasionally - notably 1970 and 1990 - our hopes have been well founded. We had a number of world class players, an experienced manager and a highly competitive domestic league populated almost exclusively by home-grown players. Other times, we have been buoyed by nothing other than a reliance on one or two superstars, and a belief that, as the country which gave the world this beautiful game, sooner or later we were bound to resume our position of global pre-eminence. Every four years, the nation's approach to the World Cup became an exercise of hope over experience, a triumph of hype over realism.

Read more:
Gary Lineker questions Wayne Rooney role at World Cup
World Cup 2014 fixtures: Including England group

And so we come to the 2014 tournament, which begins next week. Yes, next week. This may actually have passed you by, because this time around the cities, towns and villages of England are not bedecked in St George flags, shops are not festooned in red and white bunting, and the media have generally desisted in whipping us up into a state of hysteria.

There is an altogether calmer approach to this World Cup. Maybe we have learned from history. We have finally come to terms with tempering our expectations. We have looked at the squad assembled by Roy Hodgson, the most undemonstrative of managers, and realised that, truthfully, we don't stand a chance. The Premier League has given us the opportunity to see the world's best players every week and now we can conclude that we really don't match up. We hope that this is the moment for Wayne Rooney to show the world what he can do. But haven't we been there before? Best not to rely on that.

Maybe the reason we don't seem that bothered about this World Cup is because, as a country, we're doing rather well in other, possibly more meaningful, spheres. Every day we're told how much better our economy is performing than our peers in Europe. Growth is exceeding targets. We are a poster child for post-recession recovery. We have craved sporting success to divert us from the misery of our daily lives, but is it the case that we don't have that need any longer? Surely not. Are people in London too busy watching house prices rise to take notice of the World Cup? It cannot be so.

No, I think we're just playing a canny game. World Cup? Who cares? We will go into next week with an unfamiliar mixture of insouciance and resignation. Our national team will not be burdened by our expectation. Hubris hasn't made the squad. And maybe, just maybe, that's our secret weapon!

React Now

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

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Head of Marketing - Pensions

£65000 - £75000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

SEN (Visual Impairement) Tutor

£120 - £180 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are looki...

School Receptionist

£70 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: School Receptionist - Part ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

A long way to go before we reach Dave Eggers's digital dystopia

Memphis Barker
 

August catch-up: dress to impress, words to use more often, and the end of the internet

John Rentoul
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis