No hints of progress from those who (unlike most of us) were paid to watch England.

by Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw.

With England as we have long since learned, it is different.  Somehow the standards demanded are, well, not to put too fine a point on it, lower.  Lower as in, below floor level.  Lower than that in fact.  Sub-basement, although that still seems a bit high.

Having lost any notion that headlines might have to be accurate, or failing that entertaining, the Guardian tells us that it learned five “talking points” at the match.  Sadly this doesn’t include whether they have learned that it might be a good idea to sell red wine alongside white and rose, as was the case for the cup final against Villa, but still it found five things.

The first was Gareth Southgate has avoided becoming embroiled in a national scandal or humiliation thus far.  Wow!  Oh yes!!  That warrants, well not exactly emerging from the sub-basement but at least finding a torch to illuminate the dark.  It might not have a battery in it, but hey, one step at a time.

In this same first category there is also that note that England had an honourable defeat by an improvised Germany team.  How so honourable?

The test of “how so?” is whether any Arsenal defeat by anyone ever has ever be called Honourable in the Guardian.  I can’t remember that, so I am starting to suspect double standards, and have no confiscated the torch.  Even without the battery it seems it is a luxury too far.

Still on point one we are told that Southgate “has made some bold selections, defetishised the captaincy and suggested he is a man with a plan and the strength and clarity of thought to implement it. The true tests lie ahead but Southgate has made a fair start.”

And the evidence is that we… lost to Germany, the away fans are under investigation by Fifa the arbiters of morality, and we beat a country with a football league about 0.001% the size of England’s, and a population of under three million.  Half of whom are women.  On this basis sub-basement is far to elevated a position.  The coal cellar beckons.

But let us move on the point two.

2) Big crowd contributes to harmless fun

“At Wembley there were, at least, no war chants or loutish nonsense and silence prevailed throughout the Lithuanian national anthem, which was followed by respectful applause from the hosts. The minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the Westminster attacks was also observed with decorum, as was the tribute to the late Graham Taylor.”

Can we just understand this.  The situation in England is now so bad that silence for an opposition team’s anthem, for the victims of an utterly appalling terror attack in the same city as the game is played in, and in memory of an ex-England manager, are all seen as signs of PROGRESS???????

I am reminded of the story of the child who got 1 out of 100 in a maths exam.  His parents were called in to the school and the father asked how the boy got at least one mark.  “That was for putting his name on the paper,” said the teacher, “although sadly he spelled it wrong.”

So now, even achieving the most basic basic basic common decencies of civilised behaviour warrant high praise.  Apparently the crowd thereafter was good-humoured (ah I see, a chance to knock the Emirates where it is apparently often the opposite – although not where I sit).  And yes, “The sight of Jermain Defoe leading out the team with five-year-old Bradley Lowery was also lovely.”  It was and a millionaire giving five minutes of his time for a seriously ill child is better than him not doing it, but never be fooled this this is enough.  Football could always do so much more.

But then we are told “Arsenal representative makes little impression.”  No collective resume of any other club, but first a list of the Arsenal players who were not there: Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck.  And the list from other clubs?  Nope.

Which left Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who “did not seize the initiative.”  He was “not particularly sharp or inventive”.   Now we have a comparison with players who were not playing, all of whom we are told would have done more than the Ox if they had been given the chance.  And how does the writer know?

Yet Alli might be considered (although was not mentioned in the coal cellar) “comprehensively awful” (according to one correspondent).  So what we have is Arsenal singled out beyond all clubs for a) not having four of their players in the team and b) having one who the correspondent thought was not good enough.

But let us not forget that this article is one about improvement and England showing “hints of progress”.   So I am sure that by point four we will have some sign of that.  And point four is “Hart does little to inspire confidence”.


Aside from taking part in the coin toss, Joe Hart basically had two jobs to do in his first home match as captain and he did not do either very well.


But still we have the fifth and final point.  We will surely be rescued here.   And in fact, having written down all the Arsenal players (most of whom were not playing) we get a list of players who were utterly masterful in beating the overwhelmingly almighty Lithuania.  The team that is, wow, amazing, incredible, 107th in the world.

And we thrashed them (forget the score); we thrashed them because of Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Marcus Rashford and Kyle Walker, and it was so amazingly wonderful that we beat them 2-0 and the manager hasn’t been sacked for selling himself to the first journalist to offer him a fiver.

And we did that despite having the handicap of having an Arsenal player on the field.

So we will win the world cup after all, and Solar System cup, and the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy Cup and the Universe Cup, and the Alternative Universe Cup and the Multi-Universe Alternative Realities Cup (sponsored by the Guardian’s football writing team who have seemingly already been there).

“Hints of progress” ok if you can spot them, but no, the sub-basement and the coal cellar are far too good for anyone who could write that sort of stuff.    In fact the Marianas Trench would be too elevated for the Guardian on this display.

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6 Replies to “No hints of progress from those who (unlike most of us) were paid to watch England.”

  1. Has anyone got tickets for the Western spiral arm of the galaxy cup?
    As to the media bias I watched in Italian, a language of which I have limited understanding, in preference to those they choose to apoint to talk tat for cash. It is quite a joy to hear the commentators get rightly excited in accordance with the pitch situations. You also get a complete lack of pre given agenda, its very agreeable.

  2. Strangely, for Spud, Paul Walsh, gave a decent report on Ox scoring him 7/10. Then he showed his true colours by giving Alli an EIGHT, Walker EIGHT, Dier SEVEN and Lallana NINE. I mean, ffs, he must have been giving marks for Diving as far as Alli was concerned because he did fuck all else. Dier apparently ran the midfield, with telling passing and sublime skill on the ball. Must have been a different game on a different channel to the one I saw. Apparently the BBC gave a “poor” Ox a 5. What else can we expect for an Arsenal player.

    He could have scored a hat trick and their “experts” wouldn’t have given him any more.

  3. Didn’t watch, didn’t give a shit about either game.

    I knew, excepting an humiliating defeat against either, there was never going to be anything but praise, after all it was a team picked, by and large, by the media.

    If there had been 5 Arsenal players on the field, they would of been slaughtered for those 2 score lines.

    It’s all, oh so predictably pathetic and lame.

    I feel sorry for out lads on a personal level, but for me, the further away they are from England the better.

  4. My only concern was that Ox would get through the game without being injured.

    I do agree that Ali did not do much other than practice his diving techniques.

  5. I think Chamberlain’s big crime in the eyes of the “football” writer (hack dwarf) was to be the most consistent performing and technically accomplished midfielder upon the football pitch, on the day. Passing the aforementioned football with most consistency (I think), ‘dictating play’ as the people like to say in the build up to that second goal. Etc.

    Yes, he’d also put in a better performance if asked to play further up the pitch then the diving clogger who’s impressed everyone with all that diving and clogging sorry I mean skill and technique against Lithuania, , Iceland, Genk (or Gent haha!) etc…(also known as the ‘Riley curve’)

    Risable reportage from the Manchester Grunt.
    Thank you Billy!

  6. We get this same old crap all the time from the media. Depending on the time of month, they swing from ridiculously over critical, to ridiculously over confident.

    The truth is they haven’t got a clue what they are talking about. The sad fact is we are just not good enough because English players are still not coached properly from the start. The problem is, the media simply refuse to acknowledge it. Instead, they still seem hell bent on blaming those pesky foreigners,(Because of course we where so much better before they all turned up), or anything or one else for that matter, other than those that are really to blame, the FA.

    Well, either that, or if it’s not those pesky foreigners then it’s the fact England lacks leaders.

    Butcher and ‘Arry are constantly banging on about it.

    And what ‘leaders’ in particular would they be talking about? One of this little lot maybe? Here’s a small selection, with some additional details on the ones that seem to be the most lamented by the media, and there England records.

    Tony Adams, David Beckham, Terry Butcher, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Emlyn Hughes, Paul Ince, Kevin Keegan, Martin Keown, Frank Lampard,
    Gary Lineker, Mick Mills, Michael Owen, Scott Parker, Stuart Pearce, Bryan Robson, David Seaman, Alan Shearer, John Terry, Phil Thompson, Ray Wilkins.

    Lets start with old grumpy pants himself:


    Played: 77

    Honours: None

    Hmmm. Not a great start. People in green houses and all that.

    A few more highlights:


    Played: 81

    Honours: None

    Note: Banned for missing a drugs test (that means, technically he FAILED a drugs test)


    Played: 66

    Honours: None

    Note: On 6 May 1990, Adams crashed his Ford Sierra into a wall near his house in Southend-on-Sea, and when breathalysed he was found to be more than four times over the legal drink-drive limit. On 19 December that year, at Southend Crown Court, he was imprisoned for four months, being freed on 15 February 1991.


    Played: 78

    Honours: None


    Played: 51

    Honours: None


    Played: 106

    Honours: None


    Played: 107

    Honours: None

    Note: Cole became infamous for 2 things, neither of which where winning anything with England alas.

    1) When Ashley Cole revealed his reaction to being offered £50,000-a-week to stay at Arsenal, it left his reputation in tatters and earned him the nickname ‘Cashley’.

    In his autobiography Cole revealed: “When I heard the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. ‘He is taking the piss!’ I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard.” – The Independent

    2)Chelsea star Ashley Cole cheated on his wife Cheryl after a boozy night clubbing, it was claimed last night.

    Blonde Aimee Walton says Ashley, 27, had sex with her at a friend’s flat – then begged her: “Please don’t tell anyone or I’ll get in trouble.”-Daily Mirror

    And here’s Darlin ‘Arrys favourite:


    Played: 78

    Honours: None

    Note: Following the 9/11 atrocities in USA, John Terry was one of five players fined by his club for drunkenly harrassing grieving American tourists. In 2002, Terry was involved in a fight with a West London nightclub bouncer, alongside teammate Jody Morris, and fellow footballer Des Byrne. All were charged with assault and affray, however they acquitted of all charges in August 2002. During this period, Terry was suspended from England duty. On 5 February 2010, England manager, Fabio Capello, removed the captaincy following allegations of an extra-marital affair with the girlfriend of teammate, Wayne Bridge. On 2 November 2011, Terry was placed under police investigation for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand and charged on 21 December 2011, having the England captaincy removed from him for a second time. His trial began in July 2012, and he was again aquitted of all charges on 13 July. However, the Football Association charged Terry with ‘abusive/insulting behaviour’ on 27 July, finding him guilty on 27 September 2012, fining him 220,000 pounds and a four match ban. Finding his own position ‘untenable’ John Terry had retired from international football the previous day.

    Blimey ‘Arry. The only thing he seems likely to lead the lads to is a prison sentence. But still, best not look at the small print at ‘Arry ? Bloods thicker than water and all that.

    And of course we Have Wayne. Up until recently the ONLY ‘leader’ England had apparently. First seat on the plane. First name on the team sheet. Lets see how he did then:


    Played: 119

    Honours: None

    Note: Whatever the talent Rooney possessed in his younger days, he just could not stay out of the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Countless allegations of sleeping with prostitutes. Constant rants at the media and at his own supporters had distanced himself from the support of his own. Which had resulted in numerous fines and an equal amount of suspensions.


    Rooney reportedly had sex with a 48-year-old grandmother in a rubber catsuit and a mother-of-six dressed as a cowgirl.

    So not great. And again. someone we can all be proud of.

    A fine bunch of men I’m sure you’ll agree. We can be proud of every man jack of ’em. Not only for all they’ve achieved on the pitch, but more so, for all they’ve achieved off it.

    And we’re supposed to take the England team seriously, and worse, what the media have to say about them.

    England and the media are an absolute joke, and our players are better off out of it in my view.

    Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe someone can convince me why I should be proud to follow my National team.

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