By Tony Attwood
I buy two magazines a week, neither of which have anything to do with football. One is Radio Times – the magazine that lists radio and TV programmes on the main channels available in the UK and the other is New Scientist, which as you might guess, relays the main science discussions and issues of the week.
And this week New Scientist has on the cover “End of the Nation”. The sub-heading reads, “The old world order is dying.”
The central point of the article is the local authorities are better at dealing with local issues, and when it comes to food, the environment, climate change, and the like, we need decision making at way beyond the country level.
There’s nothing on football in the article, but it is a plea that has been heard on Untold many, many times.
International football has been endlessly, almost mindlessly, supported by TV, radio and the national newspapers in England, even though a huge body of football supporters not only couldn’t care about international football. The mass media has bought into nation v nation football, and has utterly ignored the shift in the public mood and having got themselves in that state, don’t quite know how to get out of it.
But now, I wonder, is the mood changing? I reported earlier that in England a cookery programme on TV that was on at the same time as the England / Norway game got a higher audience by far. And of course that might have been a one off. But…
For the first world cup I can remember the national press did not rave about England’s chances, expect England to bring home the trophy, and then rave about the dirty tricks of the foreign devils when England didn’t. (In England we’ve blamed the goalposts, the ball boys, the food providers, the stadium announcer, the cameramen… but until now, never the players.
But now times change and we have a lot of criticism of England’s performance against Norway. Indeed so strong was it that Roy Hodgson got rather angry with the media in the aftermath of the England / Norway saunter, saying the players do not deserve the criticism they are getting.
Hodgson was especially annoyed at being told that England only managed two shots on target – one of which was a penalty. He described the comment with a detailed technical analysis that ran…
Now these complex reviews of tactics are rather too much for the average reader (at least according to the journalists) so most papers didn’t publish the comment. But one felt like saying to Roy, “come on old boy, Arsenal players and management get this every day of the week. So the media has turned on you now after 60 years of mindless support. Sorry it happened to you, but it was long overdue.”
Roy’s expanded answer was particularly drab, running, “If we had played badly, if a lot of players had had really poor performances, if the quality of our passing and our movement was nothing like I wanted to see and if our defending wasn’t as compact, aggressive and organised as it was for large periods, I would be the first to say so. But I am not going to say it’s not that, just because we had a bad World Cup.
“You have seen an England team dominate for 45 minutes against a good opponent. You have seen us work very hard to create chances, you have seen players get in behind defenders in wide areas and miss crosses and, yes, I am not terribly happy about that. I would have liked the crosses to be a little bit better. I would have liked two of three of those shots to get past the blocking player and whizz past the goal.”
He made a passing reference to Arsenal players too, in passing as he looked at his squad, saying, “when Chambers came on he did well. Henderson and Wilshere, in my book, were excellent….
“Welbeck came on and showed his potential, so there were a lot of good things but the bottom line is this: before the World Cup, with all the euphoria, we were getting 75,000 people to see us play Peru.” After that he gave us the list of injuries and concluded,
“Let’s be fair about these things, that is all I am asking. But also, allow me to be excited by what they can do and allow me when they do play well to stand in front of an assembled press conference and say: ‘I think they did well’ even though there might be some cynicism out there.”
Of course it might just be a lovers’ tiff, and maybe if England do ok in the next match all will be fine again between the England management and the media, and thus the press and the manager can have their normal love in.
But nothing will hide the fact that vast numbers of football fans don’t like international games, and would love players of their team to have nothing to do with them.
In one very real sense there is no national identity in football any more, as players change nationality, choose between national options, and play for a country because of where a grandparent was born. But still the internationals continue.
Being involved with internationals means cavorting with the inept and nearly bankrupt FA and the corrupt very rich Fifa, and such associations do our players no good at all. It seems a very long shot indeed, but if only people could stop turning up for England matches completely, we could bankrupt the FA and get our players back. All in one piece.
- Arsenal’s squad reviewed
- The net spending of each club gives insights into their take on this year’s FFP
- Welbeck not injured in bake off
- The silly season is over, time to get behind the team
- Untold internationals (or the interlull as @arseblog calls it!)
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.
- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate