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Monday, June 23, 2014 

Why would anyone want to play for England?

20ft. high on Blackpool promenade.  Fake royalty second hand sequin facade.

Everyone loves Harry Redknapp, right?  Our 'Arry.  Always tells it like it is.  Never knowingly undersold.  Took QPR down and didn't receive a lick of criticism because he's 'Arry, ain't he?  Didn't get the England job despite the press dearly wanting him to as he's hand in glove with them.  Can always rely on 'Arry for a quote.  Brought QPR back up this season because he's 'Arry, ain't he?  Got off the tax evasion charges by making out he was an idiot in all things apart from football.  In his autobiography he insists he was the "people's choice, the only choice", unlike the man Liverpool sacked for being useless.

There's only the one problem with having a big mouth.  Well, probably more but stick with me here.  Eventually it will get you into trouble, even with your pals in the media.  NAME AND SHAME screams the Sun.  Redknapp told to name and shame, says the Graun.  You see, apparently while 'Arry was ensconced back at White Hart Lane, "two or three players" used to ask him to try and get them out of England games.  His wider point, supposedly, was the modern English player sees the national side, the baggage that goes with it, and decides they're more than content with just earning hundreds of thousands, millions of spondulicks, playing in the Champions League against the greatest teams in the world.  Who needs the hassle of representing your country?

Cue the attempts to work out who the traitors in our midst could possibly have been.  Not Jermaine Defoe, according to Roy Hodgson, who reacted with anger to Redknapp once again making an obviously calculated intervention in the whole why are England so completely and utterly crap debate.  Probably not Peter Crouch either.  Ledley King maybe, who was forced to retire with a chronic knee injury and so could have had a justifiable excuse?

Who knows, and who cares.  It's completely irrelevant to what befell England this time round, which was the bad luck to be drawn in a really tough group.  This might look like being wise after the event, but I didn't think they would make it out of it, and it was probably better to crash and burn after two games than do so after three with hopes having risen.  You could say Hodgson should have tried to persuade John Terry to come out of retirement, or brought Ashley Cole, and plenty have.  It might have tightened up the defence had they heeded the call.  Would it have made us Netherlands beaters, though?  And pigs might.

It could be I haven't properly been paying attention, having ahem, had other things on my mind, yet it does seem as though this time round with hopes not as high as in previous years there hasn't been quite such a colossal backlash.  We certainly haven't had the Sun telling the players they'd let the country down, although there have been calls for apologies, as Barney Ronay relates.  He also points out that, away from home, England's best achievement in 64 years has been the semi-final.  For all our grandeur, our sense of entitlement, our pride in the Premier League (yeah, right), our supposed self-deprecation, we don't take well to losing, at least at football, when we should be all too used to it.  Personally I've started finding it all colossally amusing, hearing the same moans time after time, the Chris "pelanty" Waddle's ranting away about how we never ever learn, and how, despite everything, we keep getting worse, going out earlier and earlier.  It's almost as though it was karma.

Those possibly mythical players going to 'Arry (considering he claimed in court to not know how to send a text, and both his own book and those by other managers detail he most certainly does) do after all have a point.  Why would anyone want to play for England?  You find yourself putting on a show in front of some of the most boorish prats on the planet, who find it great sport to boo the opposing side's national anthem and dress up as crusaders, offer the kind of tactical encouragement that would shame a under-7s league, and then have the temerity to complain if you don't manage to find the same form you do in the league despite the two situations being all but incomparable.  The media, bless them, build you up and then at the first sign of trouble tear you limb from limb.  They can see you hurting and still they demand more contrition.  What do they want, blood?  The FA are about as useful as having teeth in your arsehole, their big idea the introduction of "B" teams into the lower leagues, while the amount of money flowing to the top sides never trickles down to where it's needed, in coaching and development.  It might just be the problem isn't with those who don't want to play for England, it's with everything else.

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