Let’s be honest, whether we are talking association football or rugby football, England are not only boring to watch but pathetic underachievers.
Even when they win, as England’s rugby union stars did at Murrayfield this evening to give interim coach Stuart Lancaster a winning start against Scotland, it rarely gets the pulses racing. Not if we are talking about entertainment that is.
It was spot on when New Zealand’s former All Blacks’ coach Graham Henry described England as “the world champions of wasting talent” who play “a game based on fear” and failing to build on the success of winning the 2003 World Cup.
Rather than dwell on the irony of the Kiwis being the biggest underachievers in Rugby World Cup history – they even came close to blowing it on home soil when they narrowly pipped France to the Webb Ellis Trophy a few months ago – the honest truth is that Henry is right.
Fear is the word that haunts England’s stars of both the beautiful game and the oval ball version. There was nothing to get excited about as a wasteful Scotland were beaten 6-13. It was the Scots who played the most entertaining rugby, their fightback undone when they were denied a try from Greg Laidlaw by the Television Match Official ruling the fly-half had failed to touch down.
Apart from Euro 96 when Terry Venables produced an entertaining England side that outclassed Holland’s total footballers and the one-off in 2001 when Sven Goran Eriksson oversaw an unbelievable 5-1 win in Germany, what have our international footballers done to be proud of since 1966?
It was shocking to see the way our overpaid, over-rated footballers failed to live up to all the hype and expectation at the last FIFA World Cup in South Africa. But will anyone be surprised if the same thing happens at Euro 2012 this summer?
At least the FA have had the wisdom to side-step the inevitable criticism that would have dragged England down if they had not stripped John Terry of the England captaincy. Guilty or not there is no way we could go into a major tournament with the possibility that our skipper could become a convicted racist within days of the tournament ending.
Sadly, the opportunity to replace Fabio Capello with England’s finest manager Harry Redknapp was trashed by the Inland Revenue’s claim that the Spurs boss is a tax cheat. Even if Redknapp is cleared it is too late for the FA to ditch underachiever Capello, and can anyone imagine England making us proud of the way we play the game with the Italian pulling the strings?
Fear of failure will almost certainly haunt our footballers at the Euro Finals in Poland and Ukraine.