1.The decline in quality of international football
England’s football team are currently in the stages of a mini-revival, thanks largely to a generous European Championship qualifying group, which has led to an unbeaten start to the new campaign. While Roy Hodgson must be delighted with his squad’s current progress, it is fair to say the quality of opposition has mainly been very poor.
The England team itself is not the team of old; gone are the Beckhams, Owens, Scholes’, Shearers, Sheringhams, who are replaced now by players who clearly have ability, but are found wanting at the highest level.
Other nations have similar problems, with many top class players struggling to replicate the form that they display at their respective clubs (Lionel Messi, Neymar and most of the French national team are prime examples).
2. For the fans, club will always be more important than country
Even the most patriotic fan will admit they care more about their club team’s result than they do their country’s. We watch our clubs perform week in week out, develop bonds with the team, the players, the manager (even the club mascot in some extreme cases). The feelings just aren’t the same for England; the players often look disinterested, Wembley can seem soulless at times, ITV’s coverage is excruciating.. The list could go on and on.
When given the choice between watching your club play in a fixture, battling for promotion or against relegation, or watching England thump San Marino for a seventh consecutive time, there’s simply no contest.
3. The players usually don’t want to be there (and their managers definitely don’t)
The Secret Footballer mentions in his book that when he asked a colleague what it was like to represent his country he replied that it was great, solely because he got a £50,000 fee just for image rights.
Nicky Butt also revealed earlier this year that Sir Alex Ferguson used to operate a rotation policy for keeping Manchester United players from playing for England during friendlies.
The sense of obligation for playing for your country always seems to surround the England squad, but do any of them actually enjoying representing the national team?
4. Overpriced and undersold tickets
England home game tickets range from £48 to an eye watering £118. With a 90,000 capacity stadium, sell-outs have been rare and recent attendances have been as low as 40,181, against Norway in September.
With all England games now aired on the television, and the growing cost of modern football, it’s no surprise that fans are turning their backs on watching the national team in the flesh, opting instead for the faster paced, and more entertaining, club game instead.
5. Over hype of the games ‘greats’
Wayne Rooney received his 100th England cap last night and has been declared by Gary Lineker as one England’s finest footballers of all time. But do his stats reveal the truth? Before England’s fixture against Slovenia, Rooney had averaged a goal every 172 minutes, 43 goals in just under 12 years. Just 6 of these have come in major tournaments, and only one of them in a World Cup.
The standards required to become a ‘great’ in international football have clearly fallen, and many fans have recognised this, denouncing the hype of the modern international footballer.
6. We’re not that good and we know it
Even with the positive run that Hodgson’s team are on, England fans recognise that we are not one of the world’s best footballing forces any more, and haven’t been for some time. The current squad is young and developing, but this year’s World Cup campaign was a shambles and the national side arguably haven’t had a respectable tournament since the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, where they battled to victory against Argentina and were narrowly beaten by Brazil.
In the Champions League and Europa League English sides are always competitive and we can boast success with Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea all lifting European Cups in the last ten years, but at international level our team is now a minnow and expectations are at an all-time low. The mood towards international weeks now reflects this.