The musings of Mr Monkeysized

Footballing nationalism and footballing Nationalism by monkeysized
June 30, 2010, 14:31
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There’s something missing at the World Cup. And no, I’m not talking about the English team, sent home after a performance that warranted mass wearing of red noses and clown shoes. Or the ludicrous French, misfiring Italians or stulifying Portugese. I’m talking about something rather more essential.

I mean, what is it for?

Let me suggest something: It’s a cup competition held once every four years for national teams.

Nothing there about best teams winning, or anything that trite (the best team rarely wins, as everyone knows). Nothing there about measuring players or teams beyond the performances in what soon becomes a cup competition, with all the thrills and spills implied.

Here in England there’s a debate over the culpability of the Italian manager, a martinet by the name of Fabio Capello, who seems to have underperformed by the standards of woeful old England. On one side there are those who blame his rigid tactics, his bullying and his disciplinarian bent for a frigid and limp performance by overpaid superstars. On the other side there are those who instinctively see foreignness as short hand for sophistication in the footster world, and that his trophy-laden past suggests a colossus let down by trying to build on such damnably marshy ground as English players.

My view is simple: the World Cup is a fantastic little cup competition for national teams. There’s a place for hope, despair and wonder. Ultimately the England team has a way of playing and a particular culture that is fundamentally different from Brazil, from Holland, from Norway, from Italy, from Spain, from Uruguay, from Qatar, from Cameroon. It might not win World Cups, but that isn’t the point. Pick eleven Englishmen, stick an Englishman in charge, and let them fail or triumph on their own terms in a competition that is no more or no less than it should be.

If the ‘national’ team of a country becomes more than the vehicle for that nation’s own little ups and downs, perhaps some kind of project that demands shaping into some kind of uber-project of footballing majesty with attached marketing opportunities, then it badly needs monkeysizing down to earth.

Here’s to jumpers for goalposts and failing the English way.