We can all agree that the face of football changed many years ago. The dominant forces of yesteryear have been replaced in part, by upcoming nations, who until recently had no footballing heritage.
Fast forward to Euro 2016. The European Championships have always pitted the big boys against each other with the exception of a few 2nd tier nations.
The France’s Germany’s Spain’s, Italy’s and er..er. England’s of this world, are considered the ‘big boys’ but in recent years things have changed due in a large part to the influx of players from the smaller nations into the biggest leagues in Europe. The Bundesliga, Serie A, Le Ligue 1, La Liga, The Premier League, all have players from ‘less known’ nations.
For example, the Netherlands, who have appeared in 3 World Cup finals, and have always been at the top table, failed to make the Euros this time, providing further evidence of this change.
So with the focus of this article firmly on the England national team, I have to say that England is not now, and has not been, one of the ‘big boys’ for many years. I actually believed that Iceland would win their Euro 2016 match, so the result was of no surprise to me. It only served to reinforce my belief of England being a 2nd rate nation in the overall hierarchy of football.
One of the main reasons, but not the only reason is that most footballers today are in the sport for the money.
So it is little wonder that they do not really have to care about country (or club sometimes) passion. They know that they will still be paid, regardless, and will retire, and not have to worry about money for the rest of their lives. There is often little motivation to play the game other than for money
(Why this is affecting English players more than players of other nations is a mystery).
This is not to say that there are not players who want to secure their futures and that of their families, but also want to retire with achievements, and really leave their mark on the game, and have that passion/desire to win, but those players are becoming fewer with each passing year.
The England football team have demonstrated this admirably (which is the only thing they have done admirably to my mind), in losing to Iceland.
How can players who are paid in 1 week, the same amount it takes most people to earn in 2-3 years, talk about pride and achievement, then product such mediocrity in their workplace. It is because there is no pride(Possibly when they are exposed to the media they show pride, but away from the media, who knows!!).
We need to stop all the chest beating and self-promotion of ‘England’ inventing the game, and somehow thinking that it is their god-given right to be always considered among the best. The worst part of this is the fans who put their faith (and their money) in England time and time again. Fans will always be fans, this will never change, but it is time for those fans to stop being shortchanged.
As Chris Waddle, a former England international put it, “We’ll be building a team for Russia. Then we’ll be building a team for Qatar. Then we’ll be building a team for Timbuktu.”
Excuses will always prevail!!