End of the Nation. Get used to it Roy, your job may go!


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…

“fucking bollocks”.

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.

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15 Replies to “End of the Nation. Get used to it Roy, your job may go!”

  1. The end of nationhood will not come about though a joyous maturing humanity having moved beyond selfish capitalism and war as hoped for by Muammar Al Qaddafi and Hugo Chavez but by Ayn Rand loving bankers like Greenspan, Bernanke and Yellen. All allusions to Utopian futures hide the undertow of zionist misery beneath. I’ll keep supporting England FC, painful though it is, to defer the horrors planned for us in the post-nationhood world. Globalisation is terrorism.

  2. It’s about time the FA and others realised that the nation’s football clubs have now overtaken the national team in loyalty and following.
    The fact is that we who gave the world the game of football, cannot now match the performances produced by the very countries who have watched, learned and prospered (probably off us) over the years.
    At the same time as our failure to succeed further, declined, the allegiance of those who follow our national game, transferred, quite naturally, to individual clubs.
    Success for some became virtually tribal in nature and this steadily eroded support at international level.
    I have some sympathy for the England manager. He rarely has the squad at hand, club managers are reluctant to release their players to him, who have even the slightest injury and friendly internationals in mid-season are a cross he perpetually has to bear.
    Apart from the squad he selects to be the national nucleus, very few folk have much support for the manager and his job and who could blame them.
    Whether we like it or not, the football world has passed us by and the men he has to work with are currently not good enough.

  3. The word “perverse” is very interesting. The meaning closest to “contrary” is an expression which occurs much more often than the world seems to give it credit for. When something is clearly true, going against it in an incredulous tone is a stance which finds a consistently wider audience than almost any other stance. For example:

    “Arsenal doesn’t spend (have) money”

    “Arsene will (can) not buy”

    “Referee decisions all even out (…not really…)”

    “Tradition (blatant corruption)… blah blah blah”

    “Ambition (money, generally from oil)… blah blah blah”

    “Desperation (completely unaware and uninterested)… blah blah blah”

    Sometimes, I despair. But more often I laugh.

    Now to connect the dots, I feel that international friendlies/competitions have their place in the world. We need to blow off steam. When was the last time a country with genuine international football ambitions started a war? Money will funnel towards more constructive exploits, if the public is given a chance to get behind it. Nationalism can be a positive cattle prod. More interest can lead to more comprehensive regulations, which can only help on the club level as well. A strange kind of symbiosis is not out of the question.

    But my personal feeling is that we should not use the tactics of the enemy (incredulous dismissal) for anything besides things that are just ridiculous. Subjective, yes, but I have no doubt people here will understand the intricacies (…) of what I said.

    My favorite definition of “globalization” is from Malcolm Waters. “A social process in which the constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede and in which people become increasingly aware that they are receding.” The social and cultural parts of my brain are dominated by football, so the recession of constraints is most affected by football. A big part of that is international football.

    I would be lying if I said I haven’t enjoyed the ride so far. Therefore, I have great hope that people I respect will not dismiss it as out of hand without even considering the possibility of an amicable coexistence with club football. That being said, club football remains on top, as does Arsenal, zeus willing.

    Not saying it’s happened yet. I’m American; I preempt.

  4. Tony, I am a strong supporter of your insights and commitments but this must be a very, off-day. This article has a level of confused thinking uncharacteristic of your incisive insight and rational thought. First, hearing the “New Scientist” pronouncing on a ‘new world order’ that calls time on the nation should ring numerous bells of caution which you seem to have missed. Secondly, you know how widely around the world your site is awaited and followed with appreciation for the sound content it presents and to imagine one moment in English footballing history translates into a world-wide condition is … I really don’t want to finish that sentence because I have far too much respect and appreciation for all that you do. Perhaps, the strong emotions regarding FIFA has something to do with this imbalance today. Look at other countries, and reconsider your views. There is enormous passion for club-level football, and yet this in no way compromises their passion for their national teams in international competition. They have the capacity to take pride and rejoice in both. Take another look at passports, visas, work-permits, borders, taxes, currencies, …. and tell me that the nation is over!

  5. Finally somebody has the guts to point a finger at Hidgson when every English scribe and so-called pundit has been blaming everything on 22 year old Jack Wilshere

  6. I can’t found any satisfaction answer to this simple question either. Why the hell the most competitive football in the world, I’m not say the best, can’t produce a strong reliable national team? Maybe, because your local football players simply can’t compete for regular places at EPL teams, even at small clubs. Thanks to your power of healthy financial football club, they can buy or loan many talented players all over the world. Englishmen not talented enough? No top English footballers play abroad, that’s one sign! Or they just too lazy to learn from master of football phylosophy like Fergie, Wenger, Mourinho, Ancelotti, or Pellegrini. Both maybe right. Why can’t you be like Germans? It’s only take 10 years to sowing the seeds and one Spanyard called Pep… and bang, they’ve regenerate their new era of glory. Germans are more hardworker and smarter than you are recently. That’s not got for you at all! You all Englishmen, specially FA, should do something about that!

  7. I don’t think we would be so dismissive of the national team if at each tournament we showed ourselves to be among the best in Europe/ the world instead of the worst in the world.

    The roller coaster that is the Premier League driven by TV money allows clubs to pay the highest wagers. This attracts the best players from around the world.

    It also attracts the billionaires who see the Premier League as a money trough (the Glaziers) or a means of laundrying money or to provide them with world fame.

    The Premier League and in its trail the ‘Champions League’ have become the first loyalty of milloins of people around the world.

    Unfortunately on the pitch this has meant that clubs in the Premier League or wanting to get into the Premier League will buy in the more skillful foreign player, where as in the past they would have played the less skillful English player.

    This means that fewer and fewer young English players get the chance to develope to national level.

    Its a vicious circle, because there are fewer and fewer English players with ability they are more expensive to buy than players from abroad. Clubs buy abroad thus reducing the number of places in the squad for English players.

    The result of all this, is that the Natioanl team manager has smaller and smaller number of Englsih players to choose from.

    The national squad is not helped by the staggering blindness of the FA who allow skilful players to be ‘kicked off the park’ if it suits them.

    Who allow a referees association which is a closed shop to control the game on the pitch.

    An FA who refuse to allow technology into football in England. An FA who seem to think that the football pitch is no more than a yard for chickens and they the FA are the ringmasters of the chicken yard.

    At the same time we the English fan scratch our heads wondering how we got into this mess.

  8. I think you need to calm down. It was a meaningless friendly against a small football nation. I doubt most football fans would have been familiar with any of the Norwegian players. So the viewership figures don’t really mean much.

  9. “Decision making at way beyond the country level”:

    This has already imposed on our food, health and security issues, so I am not surprised to learn one day that it also affects football and all sports too. After all, a “global nation” as THEY envisage just cannot allow ANY area of society to be out of their control.

    Anyway, the England team can not get any worse, they can only get better now.

  10. @Nicky, RooM28. You could even argue April 2nd 1982.

    Not a very big war as such, but the aggressors were the losers in July’s final.

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