Twenty-seven hours on from England’s dismal World Cup exit and I’ve just about forgotten the whole thing. What else can we do? Another abject failure. Another boringly lazy performance. Another familiar sheen of disappointment on the long journey home.
But is it?
Ever four years, I sit there and think the same thing. In fact, with every passing four years, the thought increases. And the thought is:
WE’RE NOT ACTUALLY FAILING. WE’RE BEING CONSISTENT.
Contrary to the opinions of every lorry driving, bacon sandwich eating, Daily Star reading gentleman pundit of our land, England FC are not amongst the best teams in the world. They do not have a God-given right to lift a major trophy. In fact, they are not supposed to even reach a semi-final.
You see, England are ranked eighth in the world. Only eighth. Granted, a good position. But not a world-beating one. Eighth suggests that if England performed to par, they would just about scrape into the quarter-finals of a a World Cup. Just about. So if the rankings are anything to go by, England have just about performed to par.
I know what the bacon brigade will say. ‘Yeah, but that’s because we’ve underperformed. That’s because we have to play harder teams in Europe.’ True. But only to a point. Because by that rationale England have now ‘underperformed’ for so long, that it is no longer possible that they are underperforming. They are actually being consistent.
Every four years we leave a World Cup saying we haven’t done well enough. But by whose yardstick? Not that of our standing in World football. We actually tend to perform pretty much directly in correlation with our world ranking. So we perform adequately.
It takes some convincing for people to realise that we are not all that good.Perhaps being host to the globe’s top club league is partly responsible for the ongoing delusion (despite consisting largely of foreigners). It’s also true that we have seen a few very decent – and one or two world-class players come and go. However, the fact remains that not only are England not a top team, but that they haven’t been for a very, very long time, except in our minds.