In the morning papers prior to the Swiss Euro qualifier we read that Roy Hodgson’s job was on the line. There were numerous references to his outburst using industrial language with a little dig that he was supposed to be a man of letters. One article commented that he would lecture Ashley Baines on positional sense whilst urging him to read Murikami (in point of fact Roy admires the American writers Bellow and Roth best). After an efficient disposal of Switzerland, now he will be praised. Roy is clever enough to ignore both polarities of comment.
In the great debate why England have won nothing since 1966 the role of the press isn’t questioned. Occasionally I have heard it raised but those that dish out criticism so mercilessly do not like to receive it and it’s brushed aside with cliches of “Don’t blame the messenger “‘followed by “We want England to do well”, which is about as convincing as Jimmy Savile saying he gets on very well with the nation’s youth. The constant denigration of the manager (remember Graham Taylor was a turnip, Bobby Robson a plonker); the gung-ho war like aspirations created pre-tournament inevitably ending in failure; the lynching party on a player, remember Beckham had to leave the country after France 1998: all of this has as much to explain the lack of success as the flaccid performances on the pitch.
The people I feel most sorry for are the England fans – the poor bloody infantry. They have followed England over the world at great expense with much enthusiasm and fervour. If any group deserves some success it it’s them.