Sunday, January 16 2022


Nothing to get excited about

Update: June, 11/2021 - 08:00


LETTER WRITER: England manager Gareth Southgate, who wrote an open letter to supporters ahead of the Euros. AFP Photo

Paul Kennedy

It’s just pure coincidence really that Việt Nam are continuing their tough quest for a place at the World Cup around the same time England begin their challenge for European glory.

And although I expect to be slated for what I’m about to say, I don’t really care.

I want to see Việt Nam do well, qualify even, if not for Qatar for the next tournament in four years in the US.

As for England, if I’m honest, I could really care less. Is that bad? I suppose it is. Disloyal for sure. I’ll try and explain my thinking behind my bold statement.

It’s not that I’ve ever wanted England to lose, it’s just I’m not really that bothered if they do. And you certainly won’t find me belting out Land of Hope and Glory from the balcony of my 19th-floor apartment if they beat Croatia on Sunday evening.

This isn’t a new thing. I can date back my devil-may-care attitude to my national team as far back as 1990 when England lost in the World Cup semi-final to Germany on penalties. I certainly wasn’t crying in my beer and actually had Germany in the sweep so I won some money come the end of the tournament.

It’s also nothing personal against Gareth Southgate. He doesn’t seem to be doing that bad a job in charge and he did take England to the semi-final at the last World Cup.

I think the real reason I don’t get overly excited following my national team is the supporters. Or at least a small section of so-called fans that follow England regularly.

Over the decades they have also had a bad reputation, granted not as much now as in years gone by. But look at what happened at the Euro warm-up match against Romania the other day.

England players took a knee seconds before kick-off in support of the Black Lives Matter movement only for their actions to be greeted by a chorus of boos from their own supporters.

Whether you believe in this show of solidarity from sportsmen and women or not, for grown adults to boo their own players before a ball has even been kicked is abhorrent, and something I can’t for the life of me understand.

And this week Southgate, the England manager, even had to write an open letter issuing a public plea to supporters asking them not to abuse his players on social media.

In the weeks gone by there were also intense discussions about whether or not Trent Alexander-Arnold should be included in the squad.

He is one of the best, if not the best, attacking fullbacks on the planet so for his ability to even be questioned by England supporters to me just shows their lack of knowledge of all things football.

As it happens an injury to the Liverpool youngster in another warm-up match put an end to his tournament dreams.

And while I’m disappointed for the young lad that he won’t be representing England at the competition, from a personal perspective I’m actually quite pleased. At least this way he will be fit and raring to go come the start of the domestic season when he puts on the red of Liverpool.

So I’m sorry England, as much as I love football, I won’t be going out of my way to watch the matches over the next two weeks.

I won’t be actively supporting whoever their opposition is, but I won’t be losing any sleep if they don’t make it all the way to the final. VNS

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