In this Mailbox it's England v Algeria in 2010 that is seen as the nadir, but there's potential for worse, surely. Plus, one man says we should praise Rooney's honesty...
The morning mailbox ponders Luis Suarez's current predicament, cool footballers, the Lion City Cup, Spurs' transfer policy, Kanu's absence and lots more...
These are awkward weeks. As we shuffle nervously through the days, glancing at our watches and making small talk with our loved ones, it feels like we are treading water for those who follow top flight football. The season is on hold while the internationals are played and nobody really wants a two-week break now. It's ruining everything. Worse still, these upcoming internationals seem to hold little joy for us. No-one cares much about England's next two games, we know we should, they're World Cup qualifiers after all, but the next World Cup still seems distant and these games seem barely related to it.
While tournament football such as the European Championships and World Cups are still a bright, sparkling exotic bird, the qualifiers are very much the dowdy relation. Some would be briefly furious if England didn't qualify but we'd soon get over it, we have done before and will do again. Few of us really care that much anymore. The excitement has been beaten out of us by years of losing, mediocre football and over-vaunted players.
England games did, once upon a time, have some glamour to them and you'd think that they still did if you judged their popularity by the attendances at Wembley. But, somehow, they just don't. Even the 90,000 inside Wembley seem often to be observers at the freak show rather than fervent supporters, as willing to berate as to get behind.
There was a time when we'd look forward to seeing how the cream of England's talent would blend together but today we know from long and bitter experience what will happen. We know, perhaps all too well, what the players can and can't do so nothing about England surprises and little delights. Like it or not, the paucity of English talent means that give or take one or two players, we'd all pick the same squad. Where once we had long debates about which striker or goalie should be selected, now there's almost no-one to choose between so those debates are just inevitably much less interesting.
England has become a discredited brand. Can you think of anything that lifts your heart when you think of England playing? Can you? I'm trying but failing. It's not like the days when you'd be keen to see what Gazza might do, if Terry Butcher would bleed profusely from a head wound or what lovely hair cut His Royal Becky would sport. We don't wonder such things about Jimmy Milner do we?
And there is also the depressing sense that a good England performance by any player will artificially inflate their reputation and that means we'll have to endure commentators and stupid fans telling us that their favourite is 'world class' when patently they're not and doubtless never will be. We've all had a gut full of that, so much so that sometimes you find yourself wishing specific players don't have a good game because the inevitable brown-nosing will be so nauseating.
The amount of games played against weak opposition doesn't help the thrill factor either. Beating San Marino is hard to get excited about even if it is a World Cup qualifier. The group of four of 20 years ago has expanded to one of six so there are way too many games en route to qualifying. More games means it's less of a special occasion. Then there's the prospect of having to witness it all on ITV where every England player's most basic touch will be acclaimed as though it has been gilded by the hand of Jesus. The torture never stops.
If England games were just a part of the schedule, fitted in between league games without a break with less isolated focus on them, maybe we could enjoy them as a passing indulgence. But taking two weeks out and sticking it up on a pedestal seems totally inappropriate. It implicitly suggests that these are special occasions and to be revered in a standalone setting. Then you watch them and it almost never lives up to such a billing. The break in football to supposedly rest players for internationals hasn't even noticeably improved England's ability to win anything. Indeed, the results seem to be broadly the same as they ever were.
As we wait patiently for the international break to be over, we all know the whole situation is deeply unsatisfactory. Of course, having a bloody good team that always played exciting football would help us look forward to these games more, but then, that's just fantasy isn't it? We never, ever expect that. And there's your problem, right there.
You can follow Johnny on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JohnnyTheNic
God, you're a miserable bugger, aren't you JN. You're quite right though. As is @quoththeraven, that sounds like an excellent idea, although it would men no summer breaks ever again for a country's better players. But summer breaks are for schoolkids.- klaus_dinger