Tuesday, 15 October 2013

England's latest D-Day.

With real football taking a back seat to the endless home nation hand-wringing that is an international break, Roy Hodgson as I write is attempting to avoid joining the ranks of Graham Taylor and Steve McClaren, two former England managers who fancied their respective summers putting their feet up.

Another 4-1 win against the Poles will no doubt prompt a media frenzy, and awake previously sleeping expectations of a successful World Cup campaign in Rio. What was once an uninspired bunch of plodders being led by a soporific old gent will become a tight-knit bunch of sweat-bleeding lion-taming warriors being led to war by the calming voice of experience. That's certainly how it worked in the Sven era anyway - yet a series of wake-up calls on the field and the much maligned world rankings have given the country a sense of humility, and most importantly perspective.

Certainly, England would not swap with any of their fellow home nations right now - Scotland hoping to avoid finishing bottom of their group with a first home win of the campaign; Wales losing twice as many as they have won, despite the world-class talents of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, and the enigmatic managerial genius of Chris Coleman; and Northern Ireland passing themselves off the park with a string of powderpuff displays.

Things are comparitively rosy in the English country garden, and they presumably always will be with the obvious advantage in having a money-drenched top division. Despite being doomed to toil in the constant shadows of rank outsiderhood, what is the genuine chance of a team to match the technical prowess of the Spanish, German, French, Dutch, Portugese... and then there's the Africans and the small matter of South 'Messi' America.

Without turning into the English cricket team in terms of 'imported' talent, movement and technique will remain generations away, and it's best to love our national sides for what they are, not what they could be.

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