It seems that everyone in England seems to be losing a sense of reality. The defeat in a penalty shoot out with Portugal has really got the bile going.
It really is time for the country to grow up and to accept that England do not have an automatic right to win the World Cup. Sure, we have some of the best players that we have had for some time but plenty of other countries are also blessed with talent. Not all of them can win the World Cup at the same time except perhaps in the mind of a semi literatate Sun reader.
Don't get me wrong! England's efforts have been disappointing. In none of their matches did England look the real deal. Some of the blame for this must go to Eriksson for not getting the best out of his players. Certainly, the squad he chose was strange. Given that two forwards carried injury problems and were of doubtful match fitness, it was strange that he chose only two other forwards, one of whom although promising had not even played a Premiership match since joining Arsenal in January. And then there was the strange decision to play Wayne Rooney alone upfront with no real support. Surely this was a recipe for frustration on Rooney's part.
Personally, I think that extending Eriksson's contract after he nearly joined Chelsea was a mistake. That said whilst his teams have performed disappointingly in tournaments, in terms of percentage of games won, he was one of England's better managers. Of course nothing less would have been acceptable from a man paid a thoroughly obscene salary. And yet whilst Eriksson is rightly open to criticism, I can not but be concerned at the xenephobic element in press coverage. With these paragons of decency, Eriksson being Swedish rather than a Yorksire pudding eating yeoman of England, made him a marked man.
But what concerns me most is the public reaction to the events surrounding the Rooney sending off. Personally, I think the referee's decision was probably right although such decisions are never easy. Certainly, there have been plenty of incidents that show Rooney to have a problem with his temper. Yet both Eriksson and Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, seem to have failed to take the necessary steps to curb this dark side of Rooney out of deference to his unique footballing skills. And so, UK newspapers and Internet message boards, have again ignored this problem and concentrated on the involvement of his Manchester United team mate Christiano Ronaldo. I think it is fair to suggest that Ronaldo was guilty of grotesque gamesmanship. Indeed, there has been far too much of such conduct throughout the World Cup. But to single out Ronaldo is taking an easy option. The decision to send Rooney off was taken by an experienced referee who was perfectly capable of making his decisions without help from a posturing Ronaldo. Yet collectively, the English nation has taken leave of its senses. Time and again I have seen Premiership players get away with winding up opponents and using underhand methods to get them carded. We have tolerated this sort of thing in the finance obsessed world of football for a very long time.
The real reason why we have suddenly become obsessed with opposing such things is that England has become a nation of bad losers. It brings out the yob within us. Someone has to carry the can. In 1998, after being sent off in St Etienne, Beckham became the object of hatred. Papers spoke of hangman's nooses and the likes. He was viciously abused in the aftermath whenever he played. In 2004, after being knocked out of the European Championships, a hate campaign was launched against the Swiss referee. The yob's daily, the Sun, encouraged people to send messages to his website. Soon his career was over. Now the same Sun, has published a Christiano dart board. A pathetic campaign of hatred shows that yobbishness does not just belong to binge drinkers but is actively encouraged by cynical people in suits behind the safety of computers at the likes of News International.
If we are serious about promoting a culture of respect, we will reject this campaign. A nation committed to respect will encourage Ronaldo to continue his career in Manchester without playground bully suggestions of violence towards him.
The truth is simple. We are not the best football team in the world. Accept that simple truth, get over it and move on!