England can only be as good as England’s players and they are overrated

John Nicholson
England players lined up before the game against Iceland
Football is no longer coming home

We’ve reached that point in the cycle when watching England is a tedious, tense affair; Gareth Southgate is near the end of his tenure.

For a time he took the crippling weight of the shirt off. It never lasts. It returns. The socio-political nature of England dictates it.

England is largely an unhappy place, torn down by class, ideologies, lies and fighting between tribes. It’s a prosperous place but not for most, only for a small sliver of society. People are disgruntled. The majority are skint. We’re all within 10 grand of each other in terms of income. If you earn 70 grand or more, you are richer than 95% of the population; that’s how skint we are.

We’ve few publicly owned institutions to bind us together, all sold off for an elite to profit from. No wonder we’re so resentful. That which we once owned has been stolen from us. We don’t even have a sense of deference to a leech-like dated royal family and their ludicrous traditions and shamefully, almost comically, insultingly, be-medalled military clothing. It has created a low level of simmering discontent with the country, which you find less in Scotland.

Football reflects this. The anger towards the manager, the feeling he’s part of a ‘woke’ elite and the players just don’t care, is never far away from a fanbase that often resides culturally in the right wing. The recent ‘success’ has broken with tradition but the old feelings just went underground, rather than went away, ready to re-emerge. And re-emerge they have.

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You see this more clearly when you’re not in England. The level of misunderstanding is always striking. Some, maybe even the majority, totally over-rate the players. The degree of fawning is remarkable when viewed from outside the bubble. This is nothing but familiarity bias and Premier League propaganda.

Time and again our players find it hard to beat sides full of players we’ve never heard of, therefore we assume they aren’t very good. If they were, we’d have heard of them, right? So the argument goes. Wrong.

This makes England’s travails worse because they’re placed on a pedestal. The players are so vaunted, so how can they lose to Iceland at home? Why can’t they produce their club form for their country? If they are worth so much transfer money, they must be great, mustn’t they? Well, it’s not complicated; they play with better players at club level, who can make them look better than they are when with the English players.

When they play for England, it’s the worst team they’ve been in. The evidence is undeniably before our eyes. Those who have been brainwashed into worshipping the players’ talent look towards the manager as a get-out clause. If only we had a good manager, so the arguments go, we’d be great. But managers come and go and we’ve done best under the now-hated Southgate, which is a bit inconvenient, because he certainly is not the most sophisticated tactician.

When you’re playing with Kevin De Bruyne for your club every week, England then have no equal. He’ll put the ball in places to allow you to shine. That’s repeated in many positions.

Until recently results have been good, which shows how far effective teamwork and confidence can take you. And the players are good when they perform at their peak, just not good enough for long enough to win something with each other. It explains everything and it is the simplest explanation; the players are not as good as we assume they are. Without their foreign teammates, they find being dysfunctional easy.

The recent semi-final and final positions prove how far you can get with team spirit and an easy draw, but as soon as they play a good team, it’s goodnight.

The end of the cycle dictates a humiliation is due to cue disgust and outrage. It’s very predictable and Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia are just the sort of ‘we should be beating them’ sides to deliver it.

Southgate will take the blame as usual, because too many vested interests want to admit that the players are not uniformly brilliant, so the delusion is set to continue as too many seek to hide or deny the truth and there’s too much money to be made off them.

So when we play Serbia, remember, it will be the worst side the XI will have played in all season and on this basis, we probably already expect far too much, so let‘s be realistic and welcome any success as hard won and surprising.

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