Wednesday, 12 October 2016

We're Not Very Good

The job of England manager is a poisoned chalice, right? Well it used to be. Nowadays it's a vast hadron collider of radioactive particles and disturbing faecal matter all whirring through an endless canal of hydrochloric acid, ectoplasm and old man's piss.

Currently swimming against this most monstrous of tides is one Gareth Southgate. In their infinite stupidity and desperation this giant toilet of a job has been handed on to clean-cut Gaz for four games. Yep, four games, Even for a Premier League chairmen that's a short attention span. Perhaps goldfish are now in charge of the FA.

Given the parlousness and paucity of the national team's plight, extra provision might be provided for the emergency gaffer: more time with the players; a longer stretch of matches to familiarise himself with the mess he accurately describes he's been left with; some magic dust to sprinkle onto Daniel Sturridge's eyes to make him see a simple pass when it's all so fucking obviously on.

But no. Just get on with it. No pressure. Just get us halfway to Russia til we find someone we want to do your job. (Who knows, Gar, mate, it might be you!)

Gareth has made a good start. Sort of. He's nice with the press, can string sentences together and doesn't pretend he's one of the finest managers the Premier League's ever seen. Big Sam believed he was but then again there are still some women prepared to vote for Donald Trump. Southgate does strut about in a permanent state of blustering, shifty self-delusion. Good.

On the pitch, well... not so good. But that's because, and I will say this until we all, as a nation, understand this simple truth, ENGLAND ARE NOT VERY GOOD AT FOOTBALL.

Yes but, I hear the UKIPs of football opinion say, the English Premier League is the best league in the world. Well (a) no it isn't and (b) even if it were, the people making it exciting tend not to be audaciously gifted Englishmen.

In fact the only world-class performer on Tuesday night can't get a game in our league cos an eccentric Chilean bloke has forced him to go to Turin - and Joe looked a whole lot more relaxed for the experience. (Southgate praised his calmness too. He looks more like himself again.)

But I am utterly fed up of punters and pundits, through a mixture of patriotism and optimism and plain stupidity, arguing that this latest batch of young players have talent to burn. Like who, exactly?

Daniel Sturridge? Floats in and out a game like a sea mist, and don't get me wrong, mist can look quite pretty sometimes.

Theo Walcott? I swear the lad's agoraphobic. Put him in space and he absolutely panics.

Jordan Henderson? Well he was man of the match against Malta. That's Malta, okay? Not fucking Argentina. And he got praise for passing it to his teammates frequently. I mean that's like giving a train driver a bonus for stopping at all the right stops. It's the bloody least he should do.

As for the others, it's all potential isn't it? Meaningless. Alli, Rashford, Stones... some chump'll tell you that this is the backbone of England for years to come. Hmmm. If that's the case then the team's going to need a damn good osteopath.

And yet, they are the only hope. Stop me if you've heard this one before but unless they give youth its head, and let it sink or swim for a while, and resist the temptation to lob Milner on cos he can 'do a job and he tries awful hard' then we're going to be banging our collective heads against the same wall and wondering if 1966 was just another bit of post-fact nonsense that we invented to create some myth of nationhood.

Southgate has done one very fine thing. He's told Wayne Rooney his days are numbered. Every right thinking person who has managed to detach the potent image of the hirsute boy-chimp who terrified Europe in 2004 from the current version realise that Rooney 7.0 has a battery problem and no matter how many times you take it back to the shop to be reconditioned, it just doesn't work like it used to.

Wazza is nowt nor summat. Not a holding midfielder nor a striker. He's like a jaffa cake. You reach for it when you need some cake and find you've got a biscuit. But if it's a biscuit you're looking for you find you've got a cake. What he is - and always has been - is willing, and a huge trier and a man who has always played for the team (except when he's stepped on a testicle, but hey who wouldn't want to step on Ricardo Carvalho's groin given the opportunity?)

And so for that reason, it's crap to jeer him, give him stick that his effort does not deserve. Indeed it's true of all the team. They desperately want to do well, I don't believe even Sturridge can't be arsed. They're all trying really quite hard. It's just THEY'RE NOT VERY GOOD, OKAY?

So, FA. Southgate has had some success with young players. And he should be playing a team chock full of them. So just give him the job. Cut him some slack. And the rest of us can just do our best to be a little bit more understanding and think a little bit more long-term and hope that whatever talent the babies do possess can be moulded into something resembling a decent team.

But me, I'm starting to develop the mentality of a Scottish football fan. Take what little sustenance you can from the meagre crumbs on offer. We are not at the top table anymore. We are the stray dogs hiding underneath it. And hey who knows, in time we might just discover we've got a bit of pedigree after all. I'm just not holding my breath.


  1. Love it, Robbo! Even when the likes of Gerrard, Terry, and even Rooney were at their prime, there was still the sense (and blatant sight) of England not measuring up to the top teams in Europe, let alone the world. They are definitely not at the same level now, so why not do as you suggest and try to build a team that could make a sneaky run in a tournament?

    I suppose it's a bit like American sports leagues and All-Star games, which rarely feature the actual best players of that season, because no one would pay to watch 'nobodies' (still making millions) play.

    Even the US has put some of their more notable older players out to pasture when the time came. I know Tim Howard still really wants to play, but after that Belgian barrage a couple of years ago, the man went back to Everton and looked like Matt Damon in the last battle scene of Saving Private Ryan. He recovered to a degree, but wasn't the same.

  2. But but but it's OUR game we INVENTED it!

  3. Nice to see a jaffa cake reference there Robbo. Know your classics.

    All I'd like to see from an England manager is play a player in his correct place. Vardy, for example, is not a left winger. (Lib Dem I believe)

    As for Southgate, well who else is there? Are the FA hoping to encourage Wenger to take the job after his contract at Ar***al runs out this summer? If that is the case, well we'd better get used to finishing 4th.

    Usually the way to improve England is to take a manager from my brave lads, however I think even Mad Mick isn't that daft.

    *slight nit-pick* It was the Catalan that sent Hart to Torino, the Chilean isn't at Citeh any more.

  4. Well, to be fair, England can play half-decent football but, in my life-time, I only counted those games on one hand I did not use all the fingers either: that 5-0 in Germany, 'friendly' against Argentina and two games from Euro 96 (Holland and Scotland). When they are good, they are good, but when they are bad...


  5. Ahhhh.
    I've missed you Robbo :)

  6. great stuff Robbo. welcome back!

  7. Welcome back Robbo and not one but two offerings, you haven't lost a yard either, good stuff.

  8. Need to get back to basics. Pick players who are in form and play them in their normal positions and who knows they may play decent football

  9. U have said it all Robbo, England isn't GOOD enough. The pundits will like us to believe otherwise

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