There is something worrying me, it’s been bugging me for a while. I tuned into the England Wales match last weekend, it was online on ESPN-3 and something rather worrying happened. I joined the game at half time and after about 10 or 15 minutes I switched it off to go clean up the garden.
Last night I totally forgot England were playing Ghana. It was not until someone at work mentioned it this morning that I remembered and it was longer still before I went to the BBC website to look for the result.
It’s not that I’m growing tired of the game. I’m still looking forward to watching Seattle play Saturday night in the pub and planning work trips around home dates (and around a couple of away games).
If it’s not the game itself, and I feel pretty safe saying that I love the game as much as ever, I think its England. Last summer I was a true believer, England had a chance, England could do it this time. I had the World cup Wall chart up, my office was adorned with a couple of crosses of St George and I had Three-Lions on my iPod. I was ready, I was a true believer.
Then it all went wrong, just before half time in their opening game. Rob Green (and it’s easy to point fingers, but it’s true) fumbles the ball and it was 1-1. I was in a pub in Redmond and there was silence from the ex-pat two-thirds of the room.
My thoughts at the time were along the lines of “there is plenty of time”, “it’s only the opening game”, “not loosing is far more important than winning”, “the USA are a good side”. You get the idea, but deep down a little piece of me thought “here we go again”.
Every couple of years I buy into the hype, I believed that this time it will be different.
And it never is.
It’s a special ability England has to disappoint when it matters. It does not matter somehow they find a way. Waddle blasting a penalty into the stands, Maradona’s “hand of god” or Green letting the ball bobble into the net.
There is a certain inevitability that some how England will fail to deliver. I can handle a great performance where England is beaten by an even greater team. It’s the 0-0 draws with Algeria that piss me off. Last summer Algeria did not play a stunning game of football, it’s that England were crap on the day.
I don’t want my England to just get through to the second round of a tournament with two draws and a dodgy 1-0 win in the final group game, I want them to do it in style. I want them to go through with conviction and mow down all those put in front of them.
I can tell you which bar or living room I was in for so many of the big games over the last 25 years or so, certainly back to the World cup in Mexico. I’ve missed meetings, taken sick days, vacation and skipped school to be there for a big England game, a dedication I’ve never shown Coventry City or the Seattle Sounders.
Reality is that England today is not a particularly good side; when I dig deep I really don’t believe they are good enough to win Euro 2012. I care, but I’m not going to live and die with them for now, it may come back, but this may be the new state of mind.
I was discussing this today with another one of the expats. I was worried, was my lack of loyalty caused by being away from home for too long? Pete said no, its OK to like England a little less. He understands and pointed out what they have put us through for the last 40 years.
He’s right, there is something especially English about being a little cynical and bitter about the team. Pessimism is almost the national state of mind, and it’s OK to apply that to England today.