‘ Ban In­ter­na­tional breaks’

> Like the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, you know it’s go­ing to end badly one way or an­other

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS - BY JEREMY CROSS

HOW ABOUT we for­get in­ter­na­tional breaks and just take a break from this form of the game full stop.

What is the point of the Eng­land foot­ball team? I’ve been puz­zling over it for a while, but can­not pro­vide a gen­uine an­swer.

Get­ting picked for Eng­land used to be the ul­ti­mate hon­our. It meant the world to those priv­i­leged few and this re­flected in their at­ti­tude to­wards achiev­ing suc­cess.

For the likes of Sir Bobby Moore, Sir Bobby Charl­ton and Sir Ge­off Hurst it pro­vided them with the plat­form to claim the ul­ti­mate prize and change their lives for­ever.

But times have changed – and not for the bet­ter.

With the odd ex­cep­tion, like Italia 90 and Euro 96, all Eng­land have done is turn faith­ful sup­port­ers into a bunch of masochists.

For the record the of­fi­cial def­i­ni­tion of masochism is, ‘a per­son who is grat­i­fied by pain and degra­da­tion, that is self­im­posed or im­posed by oth­ers’.

“Oth­ers”, of course, be­ing, the cur­rent mem­bers of the na­tional team, who have doled out noth­ing but pain for two decades now.

Eng­land games should be the high­light of a sea­son, but they have be­come the op­po­site – low­lights full of let downs, la­bo­ri­ous foot­ball and pre­dictable out­comes.

We all know what will hap­pen. Eng­land will se­cure qual­i­fi­ca­tion for Rus­sia 2018, prob­a­bly with Gareth South­gate be­com­ing the per­ma­nent man­ager in the process.

Then we will go to Rus­sia and make a mess of things once again, South­gate will get sacked and the wheel of woe will have turned full cir­cle once again.

What pur­pose does this whole process serve? Like the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, you know it’s go­ing to end badly one way or an­other.

There was noth­ing honourable about how Eng­land crashed out of Euro 2016 to Ice­land this sum­mer, forc­ing Roy Hodg­son to quit in shame min­utes af­ter that fate­ful game in Nice.

So much for hon­our. There was noth­ing honourable about how his suc­ces­sor Sam Al­lardyce lasted less time in charge than those Chilean min­ers who got trapped un­der­ground in 2010.

Play­ers drift through the years col­lect­ing caps, but there is no ev­i­dence to sug­gest that turn­ing out for the Three Lions is any­thing more than a self­cen­tred ex­er­cise in boost­ing their egos, pro­file and chances of land­ing lu­cra­tive spon­sor­ship deals.

Deep down, the crux of the prob­lem is that Eng­land play­ers don’t be­lieve they are good enough to win a ma­jor tour­na­ment.

You can’t blame them ei­ther, be­cause they aren’t. Un­like the rugby, cricket and even hockey teams, there is no prospect of win­ning a ma­jor tro­phy.

How many of the cur­rent squad would get in a cur­rent World XI? None. How many would get in a World sec­ond XI? None.

Wayne Rooney might be our most capped out­field player and record goalscorer, but he won’t look back on his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer with great fond­ness be­cause it is a cat­a­logue of failures at ma­jor tour­na­ments.

His per­sonal achieve­ments are his to cher­ish and should be ap­plauded, but be­ing with Eng­land is ul­ti­mately about the team and it’s suc­cess. Or lack of it in this case.

In­ter­na­tional foot­ball in­volv­ing na­tions like Eng­land and Scot­land has been left be­hind by the Pre­mier League and Cham­pi­ons League.

The vi­cious cir­cle of the fail­ing Three Lions will keep go­ing round and round though, ru­in­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of play­ers, man­agers and be­liev­ers along the way. – Daily Star

Scot­land’s James McArthur (left) vies with Eng­land’s Wayne Rooney dur­ing Fri­day’s World Cup 2018 qual­i­fi­ca­tion match at Wem­b­ley sta­dium. –

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