England lost 3-2 to Croatia. It was all the sweeter because they (somehow) managed to claw themselves back to 2-2. It was undeserved and would have been a travesty if it had finished at that. One dodgy penalty and one (just one) nicely worked equaliser could not hide the truth: they were by far the worse team on the pitch. Hence, all neutrals could only applaud when Croatia sealed a fine win with a great goal in the 77th minute. And the timing was impeccable – giving England just enough time to mount a miserable attempt at a come back and prove just how bankrupt they really were.
Alan Hansen on the BBC called it right at the end: they could have lost by six or seven. Croatia looked liked scoring every time they attacked. They hit the bar, got a huge save out of Carson, and generally looked menacing. In contrast, England were bereft of inspiration, resorting to hopeless high balls towards Crouch in the last 15 minutes. It is like they reverted to national football stereotype at their point of worst crisis: simple, crude, inept, brainless, neanderthal football.
Every time I see their national team and, most of all, listen to their commentators, I cringe. John Motson is the worst. He is unashamedly biased and one-sided. He inevitably mentions 1966 at least three or four times every game. He will resort to “Come on England” when he has nothing else to say. He seems incredulous when the other team (whoever they are, they are all Johnny Foreigner to him…) scores or even manages to get beyond the half-way line. He will always patronise them – “This must be a significant victory for Croatia” was one example tonight. Why? Why John? Because they are a “little” soccer nation who just live for the day they can beat England? They’d already qualified for gods sake, they couldn’t care less. They’ll meet better teams in the European championships for sure and have many more “significant” victories. But he stupidly thinks the whole football world revolves around England.
Motty was on perfect form tonight. Completely abandoning any attempt to describe the action in front of him, he resorted to imploring them to do something – anything – to turn it around. We would have got more insight from a three year old.
The truth is: English national football has always been bad. They have made one final ever – and that was 41 years ago, at home. They made a semi-final in 1990 – perhaps the worst football world cup ever. They have failed to qualify for many major tournaments over the last 40 years (1974 and 1978 being infamous, with 1994 another failure). Incredibly, their press and commentators always declare them favourites before every tournament! Incredible, because they have absolutely no reason to ever think they could ever win the World Cup. None.
And so, we have a whole summer without any English, Irish, Scottish, or Welsh team in Austria/Switzerland. That will only be good for the tournament.