Given the bouts of mass hysteria breaking out across the country, the inevitable war-related tabloid headlines and angry boozed up, flag-clad supporters, England’s slow and painful elimination from the World Cup must be nearing its depressing conclusion.
There is something incredibly predictable about what has happened over the past two weeks. The England players, with oversized egos massaged by their Premier League stardom, carried their overstated sense of entitlement and self-importance into a tournament they were always unlikely to win, even if the World Cup 2010 betting odds suggested otherwise.
However, throw in a frenzied media determined to refer to either 1966 or the second world war in every other sentence and some washed up celebrities releasing ridiculous ‘Eng-gur-land’ songs, all of a sudden then nation began to believe the team could actually achieve something.
To be fair, the manner of England’s qualification, which saw them score more goals than any other European team and included 4-1 and 5-1 wins over Croatia, suggested they could make an impression at the finals.
But the scale of England’s failure so far is, even by their standards, pretty spectacular. First up was the USA game and Rob Green’s contribution to football gaffes DVDs for decades to come. Though even then as England laboured to the 1-1 draw the fans convinced themselves it was a good result, as obviously the all conquering England team would steamroller Algeria to set up a place in the knockout stages.
But that was before we were treated an excruciatingly painful 90 minutes against the African “minnows” as the press called them. To be fair no one gave Algeria much credit for their performance. In a World cup that has now seen New Zealand draw with Italy and Switzerland beat Spain it is not unrealistic to suggest that Algeria got their tactics spot on and battled to a deserved draw.
But when you get Wayne Rooney, the street footballer from Croxteth, shouting at the travelling fans on live television, who needs to talk about the opposition.
The result has brought out the worst in everyone involved. The supporters are divided, with some apoplectic at such a poor performance given the amount the paid to travel and watch the team. Others feel it is all too inevitable and preferred to look forward to the new domestic season, while those who only watch football every four years have gone back to their gardening.
The press meanwhile are slagging off everyone involved, even criticising Fabio Capello for lack of decisiveness and leadership. A word of warning – if Fabio leaves it’s a choice between Roy Hodgson and Harry Redknapp.
And then the players themselves, insulted that the fans dare question their performance they have spat their dummies out in dramatic fashion, with talk of players revolt and a split dressing room. It makes you wish the whole thing was over already. England’s World Cup odds suggest it almost is.
Thankfully I don’t think we will have to wait that long for that wish to come true.