As an Englishman living in Scotland for the past 12 or so years I am starting to realise that we, as a nation, are not universally liked. In a sporting sense I put this down to a couple of things. Firstly is the English media and it’s inflated opinions of our national teams. Then there’s the history repeated ad nauseum. John Motson somehow managed to mention 1966 before a ball had even been kicked this evening and that has even started to annoy me.
The press also serves to goad the populous. While the hooligan element is thankfully mainly keeping away from the stadia these days, the English fans as a whole are still obnoxious, impatient and disrespectful. Contrast the booing of the Swiss national anthem by the fans with new England manager Fabio Capello applauding the Swiss team when they scored their goal to level the game at 1-1.
As for the game itself, it was always going to be off to a tentative start. The first half hour was especially poor and England struggled to pass the ball to each other which always makes the game more difficult. Wes Brown in particular was having a tough time of it. After the half-time team talk things settled down at 2-1 and England actually looked like a good side going into the last 20 minutes. Admittedly the game had opened up somewhat with the Swiss trying to chase an equaliser for the second time.
David Bentley was chosen ahead of David Beckham and just edged the man of the match for me ahead of actual winner Steven Gerrard who swapped flanks with Joe Cole to great effect. David “Calamity” James almost stayed true-to-form by gifting the opposition a goal by getting stuck so far out of position that even Bruce Grobbelaar would have questioned his judgement.
All-in-all, a promising start considering the team had only been together for a few days. Maybe it was down to the welcome new edict banning of wives and girlfriends, agents and mobile phones.