British football – my opinion

A soccer ball that is "thermally bonded"
These things cause a lot of emotions to run high

I’m about as unbiased as it comes when talking about the home nations’ football teams. Being born in England of a Welsh dad and a Scots mother, I still have sympathy with the Northern Irish purely because I don’t want them to feel left out.

So what’s happened to the state of the nations? Why are England the only one qualifying (sorry, Ireland – but by your own admission you need a miracle now)?

There are three factors that I can spot a mile off. I’ll deal with the first as it’s not purely an England thing:

1) Foreign manager

Yes, I know the Scots had Bertie Volks who’s German hence why I said this isn’t a purely English situation. We just happened to get someone who’s turned out to be really good. Eriksson wasn’t bad, either. However, should we be allowed to have a foreign coach? After all, we’re not allowed foreign players in the national squad.

If we can’t find a decent enough English coach, then surely that should be our problem and we should have to settle for the best we can find. The same as if we struggle for strikers, or goalkeepers, or left-footed wingers.

My opinion on this is that if you appear above a certain level in the FIFA rankings as a national team (or by some other dividing line) your coach must satisfy the same nationality requirements as any other member of the squad. This would allow for fledgling nations to have someone with experience elsewhere brought in (like the mackem bastard Reid in Thailand) to give the team structure and knowledge. With luck, the team progresses at which point when that manager leaves he must be replaced with a national of that country.

Obviously, this means England should have an English manager. I don’t care what some of the die-hard bunch say – if we won a world cup under an Italian manager it would take some of the gloss off it for me.

2) Population size

There are more people in London alone than in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. England simply has a bigger pot to pick players from than any other home nation.

Look at the teams way down the rankings. Compare them to the population of their country. There’s a ridiculously obvious link between placement and population. It’s not hard and fast, I’m sure, but the pattern is there.

Think about it. If a person has a 0.05% chance of developing into a football player of any calibre at all, then the larger the pool of potentials you have to pick from, the larger the number of finished articles you’ll have.

Short of a rule change – such as going as far back as grandparents’ countries of birth to decide nationality – there’s nothing Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Andorra or anywhere else can do about this.

3) Foreign players in the game

This seems to be being addressed by FIFA although the European Court of Interfering Bastards seem to be doing their utmost to stop it. The upcoming regulations will, over seasons, force teams to field (or at least have on their books – I need to check) gradually more and more home-grown players up to a certain ratio.

Right now, you name me an English Premier League club that regularly fields more than three English players. By that I mean, they start and play pretty much ninety minutes of each game on the trot.

Now, do the same with Scotland. Rangers and Celtic are (and no offence to whoever finishes third each season) the only teams to play at any reasonable level. And they’re both chock full of foreigners. The other teams in the SPL and lower leagues all have far more Scots players than the equivalent EPL teams have English ones. But they’re not up to the standards of the Big Two due, in part, to point 2 above.

Wales don’t have a hope in hell as the only teams in the country that are remotely good are playing in the English leagues. Cardiff is probably the largest “force” in Welsh football and they’re currently in the English second tier. I know – we play them on Sunday afternoon.

Without looking things up, I can’t comment on the Irish league. However, I would suspect that – as with any decent Scot or Taff – they get drawn to the English (or other overseas) leagues for the cash.

Why nurture your own talent when you can buy it from a small village in Argentina? Why take a risk that the 8 year-old from Kilmarnock with excellent ball skills won’t peak when he’s 11? Just buy a pre-developed striker from AC Milan instead.

Remember the last time England were any good? I’ve made this point on other blog posts, but at one time the core of the England squad all played for Newcastle. Four years later, they were all Manchester United players. They played as a squad week in, week out. Now we’re picking two from one team, one from elsewhere, another from another and so on. We have a collection of talented players, but a weak team. Of course, on recent outings this has finally come together. It’s taken a lot of years and several managers, though.

These are the problems that I think face British football. England have been lucky in recent years that we have had some decent talent come through. But we don’t have that much depth as regards a good squad. It’s purely our (England’s) population that’s keeping us top of the British “League”.

So please don’t blame Craig Burley. On the strength of their performance last night I think Scotland achieved all they could with the resources they have. Just unlucky finishing – and the lack of a top-class striker who can compete with the Rooneys, Henrys and so forth of this world – stopped them hammering the Dutch.

The worst thing Scotland could do is to sack Burley. The best thing they could do would be to embrace the FIFA regulations and force Rangers and Celtic to field a minimum three Scots-bred players.

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Seriously, what is this country coming to?

The flag of the United Kingdom (3:5 Army version).

Or, perhaps, what has it already gone to? I’ve only been back her a week or so and I’m sick of the place already. Don’t get me wrong, life up in Perth with the folks is laid back and relaxed. But there are things which just don’t feel right and news stories that are driving me nuts.

A daft one to start with. All of the bins along the main road into Perth have been removed. If there’s somewhere you expect to see a bin, it’s by a bus stop. They’ve all gone. So rather than pay someone to empty them, someone’s decided that they’ll just take them away. Maybe they’ll be replaced, but I doubt that very much. I might look into this and see if the council have an answer.

[Update: the bins are back – new ones. So only bad planning, not a removal of a public service]

Then there’s a budget and the general economic mess. Gordon Brown refusing to apologise and people making more fuss over some potential letters to “smear” some other sleazeballs. As if we don’t have enough problems without parlimentarians calling each other names. Pathetic. I wouldn’t trust these overgrown schoolchildren to cook their own dinner, let alone run a country.

The decision to only allow about 100 Gurkhas to apply for residence is a complete disgrace as well. We hand out millions each year to lazy, good-for-nothing, workshy filth who can’t even be bothered to look for a job… and turn our backs on people who fought for our country every bit as bravely as any British soldier. Disgusting. I don’t think there are words strong enough for me to describe how repugnant we must seem to push them away as we are.

If we’re bothered about “thousands” of people trying to move here then the solution is simple. Check their military record and if they were a Gurkha, let them in. And stop giving money to the chavs who just spend it all on drugs, booze, fags, crappy gold jewellery and Sky TV. Let those bastards starve until they find a job. That’s not what these brave men fought for, nor my grandad, nor anyone else.

And a final one. Just one incident, but similar things have happened before, and recently. A young girl, 11 years old, shot while queuing for an ice cream on Merseyside. The shooter described as being about 16 or 17 years old. Shot her then cycled away.

What. The. Fuck.

I am so thankful she seems to be OK as far as shooting victims go, but it just staggers me that something like that can happen in this country. An isolated incident, a one-off by a loony.. OK. But this kid was part of a gang, and it’s happened in the past. How can this keep happening?

In a week that’s seen St George‘s go by with barely a blip outside of some mentions on Twitter and the like, I should have been proud – for a day – to be English. Instead, I’m ashamed. Not to be English as such. But of the state my country has fallen into.

Yes, I know England‘s just one part of Britain but I see myself as both English (born) and British (bred). They are, to a large extent, one and the same to me. And I’m saddened at the state I find both of them in now.

Is it too late to dig ourselves out of this hole? I genuinely think it is, short of some kind of major upheaval in the social and political systems of this country. We need someone in charge who’s not afraid to strip away the last 40 years and get back to some serious basics. Strip people of a lot of their “rights” (criminals, chavs, filth who run our streets, politicians…) and make people realise that they can’t get away with this any more.

Because right now they can. And will. And do.

And that’s just not good enough for my country.

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You can tell you’re back in England when…

map showing the area of England in relation to...

… you’re reading a copy of the News of the World someone left sat on the tube seat and once again you find yourself asking “why the hell do people read this shit?”

… you have the best, most filling breakfast in ages despite knowing it’s furring your arteries faster than lining them with badger pelt.

… you’re behind a heavily pregnant woman in a newsagents who buys all her groceries; then a lottery card; then 20 fags.

… a chocolate bar costs around 50p and there’s no excuse like the fact that the shop has to import it in from another country.

… a bus ride costs a quid.

… it’s glorious sunshine despite all the news for the last 3 weeks saying it’s been pissing down (happens every time I come home).

… I can finally top up my mobile without having to contend with a broken bloody website (thanks, Vodafone you wankers).

… I don’t see anyone flying their national flag in their gardens or on buildings any more.

… the quality of written and English I’m encountering is worse than that in most of the other countries I’ve been to for the last 4 months.

… encountering traffic driving on the left is not unexpected.

… I can find more than one type of beer in each bar I go to.

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Happy St George’s Day!

St George Cross
St George Cross

I appreciate that virtually no bugger will know about this as it’s just not “pushed” as much as Paddy’s Day. I’m all for making it a public holiday in England – not necessarily an additional one, but move an existing one. And, yes, the Irish should have Paddy’s Day off, the Scots should be able to get wasted on St Andrew‘s Day, and the Welsh ought to be free to bugger sheep and snort daffodils on St David‘s Day.

These days we’re losing our national identities. Europe’s swallowing us all up to some extent, but even within the UK it’s all going to shit. The Scots and Irish aren’t too badly affected, but England and Wales are being merged into one (partly as they’re always classed together). I also resent the fact that the Scots have their own parliament over which we have no say, yet they have a voice in a parliament that affects England and Wales.

If things are going to go that way, you can wave goodbye to Great Britain. We either need one single parliament again, or four separate ones for individuality plus one British parliament for decisions over the nation as a whole.

But what the hell do I know? What scares me is that the only party in the upcoming election fighting for a St George’s Day holiday (that I’m aware of) is the BNP. Don’t worry – I’m not that desparate to save my national identity that I’ll vote for those racist thugs.

Go celebrate your nation’s patron saint (if appropriate) by kicking crap out of a Combat 18, NF or BNP member today. They’re all the bloody same. Then go and read more about St George at Wikipedia, from where I pinched the attached image.

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