Susie Rushton: A shared experience is even better when we're rubbish

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The Independent Online

Come on, admit it. You enjoyed yourself. Setting aside the score, for its glorious moments of failure and outrage, yesterday's game provided plenty of opportunity for what we English like to do best: carp, bitch and try to outstrip each other with increasingly hyperbolic criticism.

"I'd say that was about four levels below abysmal," said Alan Hansen, throwing down the gauntlet, moments after Rooney and his pals had trooped off the pitch at full time. Lee Dixon, next to him in the BBC studio, judged it "the worst team performance I've ever seen. Quite frankly, it was awful."

What took you so long, Lee? Among the four viewers in my living room, the snorts of derision had begun long before the TV pundits let rip. In fact I believe the first "rubbish" is muttered just five minutes into the game, quickly followed by groans and a fairly detailed discussion of the shortcomings of Emile Heskey, not even on the pitch at the time.

When Klose scores, running up the pitch toward the goalmouth, utterly unimpeded by English defenders, there are hands over faces. "This is a goal you'll see in every pub game," says Mark Lawrenson, commentating for the BBC. Good line! And so it went on. After the Podolski goal, he tells us, "England's World Cup dream is dying... in Blomfontein." The pathos, however, is in full flow. "Of course, we're losing in terms of goals, but we're convincingly beating them on corners," says one of the counsel of experts on my sofa.

Each player gets their chance to be thoroughly derided by the jury: "Fat Frank", who, I learn, is very skilled at aiming a free kick directly at a wall of men; Gerrard, who "should be taken off if he boots it at the goal like that again"; the long suffering Terry, who is "never in position". It's more fun than watching election night. I even manage to get a laugh with the observation that the inexperienced German side seem to be doing well despite their lack of international class. Hey, this is fun!

If there are moments when it is too embarrassing to look at the TV screen, Twitter provides entertaining vitriol in real time. After Lampard's goal goes unawarded, a campaign to send messages directly to Sepp Blatter quickly builds up. Eddie Izzard joins in (who knew he was a football fan?) "Find out where that referee is from. And get MI6 on the phone," tweets @Queen_UK. The real John Prescott blogs that Joe Cole should be brought on, a suggestion that, in my home at least, causes howls of derision; Capello must've been looking for ideas though, for 15 minutes later, he does just that.

A fourth goal, the pressure's off, and the black humour really begins to flow. "And Germany are into the last eight, where they belong," says the commentator, mournfully, to raucous laughter at this end. A chap called Gary Delaney tweets: "MISSING: Can you help? Wayne Rooney, Cheshire area, 24, white male. Last seen March 2010."

As the game ends, Gary Lineker begins the inevitable "inquiry" into why our "golden generation" of millionaire players can't get the hang of playing as a team.

I'm still enjoying the full-time tweet by Sgtbeefmeat: "It's gonna be really difficult for England to win the World Cup now." True. And it's such a shame we'll have to wait four years to do this all again.