Monday, June 14, 2010

Let's hope they predict Slovenia and Algeria to thrash the US too!

One of the reasons I hate England's national soccer team is that the English soccer culture has an arrogance that does not befit its actual accomplishments. England has one only a single major trophy: the 1966 World Cup on home soil. They have never won their continental championship. They have never made it to the final of another major tournament besides 1966. Their best ever World Cup performance on foreign soil was a single semi-final appearance.

By contrast, the 'patghetic' United States has won 4 continental championships, has made the final of the Confederations Cup and their best ever World Cup performance on foreign soil was... a single semi-final appearance.

None of this should be construed to suggest that the US is a better soccer nation than England. We're not. Our 4 Gold Cups have come out of a relatively weak region with only one real peer. The Confederations Cup run required only two wins to reach the final (though England has never been in that tournament because you actually have to win something to participate).

England is a great example of a medium-sized nation whose fans have always held unreasonable expectations as a result of one great tournament. England are regular World Cup quarterfinalists, which is a pretty good achievement considering their player pool (lots of good players, a few very good players, maybe two truly world class player). But English fans are under the insane delusion that if they only had the right manager, they'd be sure to win the World Cup. England isn't, and in my lifetime has never been, good enough to EXPECT to win the World Cup. Their superiority complex is completely unjustified.

The above front page of the tabloid Sun rag is a great example of this. A group with the US, Slovenia and Algeria was probably the most favorable World Cup draw England could have gotten but easy? In the last year, Algeria beat African giants Ivory Coast as well as back-to-back-to-back African champions Egypt. Slovenia qualified ahead of respected soccer nations like the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia. The US ended Spain's world record winning streak last year. The best group they could've expected? Sure. But easy? Only typical English soccer provincialism would've expected this to be simple. No wonder it's been 45 years since they've won anything.

After the US 1-1 draw with England, The Sun is the only entity who now looks more stupid than poor Robert Green. But I suppose unlike Green, The Sun isn't classy enough to be embarassed.

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