Boro 4 England 0

WHAT HAS England ever done for us? Alright, but apart from the roads, sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and public order… what has England ever done for us?
As long as I can remember the national team has been cruel to Boro. Players who get called up invariably get injured, tapped up or monstered in the press and suffer a catastrophic collapse in form. At best an few England caps will push up the price, as it did with Pally. At worst it provokes an insidious media campaign aimed at levering our man away from the shackles of his impertinent upstart provincial backwater outfit as we appear to be facing with Stewy.
As far as I’m concerned, England can get stuffed.


I am passionately parochial when it comes to football and I think most real supporters are too: that is, those who go to watch their heroes week in, week out rather than the armchair army who see the game as a showbiz procession of famous faces from the celeb rags. Club is the only thing that really matters to me, not the FA XI and the symphony of deluded drivel that surrounds it, no matter how much we enjoy the spectacle of a World Cup.
Club v country? No contest. We are supposed to submit ourselves to the commercial and political needs of the clowns who run the FA? Yeah right. That will be the FA that blundered through a comedy of errors to recruit a new boss then after dropping a blob with Big Phil felt pressured into a pointlessly premature announcement about McClaren just five days before the biggest game in Boro’s history, throwing pre-match preparations into turmoil and reducing the historic occasion of our UEFA Cup final to just another sub-plot in the wrangling around Team England. Thanks a lot. It’s nice to know the FA will look after the interests of member clubs with such diligence.
There may be those Boro fans who are grateful to England for getting Boro off the hook with unpopular Mac but the the price of his clumbsy exit is impossible to calculate. Maybe if the job was still in the balance Mac would have been more determined, more methodical, more desperate to win. Maybe without the furore and disruption caused by the boss whizzing off the Soho Square and playing to the England gallery the weekend before the game Boro would have been better prepared, more united and more focussed. Maybe. We can never know.
But we know that the arrogant, self obsessed and totally insensitive suits at the FA could very easily have delayed the announcement by a week and we would never have been tortured by those imponderables. That is one big black mark for England that will take a lot more than a one off Riverside game with Slovakia and playing the kids in the Under-19s to balance out.
And it is not just England. I hate international football as a whole . Don’t get me wrong I like the summer shindigs in years that end in a even number as much as the next man, even if the next man is sat bleary eyed in the small hours, can in hand, Pro-Plussed up and captivated by the goalless draw in the Group D dead rubber between FYR Montenegro and East Timor.
But please, do we really need all these laboured international breaks acting as coitus interruptus in our real all consuming passion for club football? Why not play these pointless qualifiers (except in the ‘group of death’ we know which two or three teams will finish at the top) pre-season in place of the surreal money-spinner friendlies like AC Milan v Manchester United in Durban or Chelsea v Juventus in Singapore. No one will care if they are scrapped.
Last year a timely spat meant we did not lose the Yak for the African Nations Cup. Next time we may not be so lucky. But clubs who pay the wages should never be deprived of key players for important domestic games. With their drive for more and bigger competitions FIFA and UEFA are launched a direct attack on the financial and organisational integrity of the clubs.
If the greedy soccercrats that run the FIFA money-making machine can not devise a rational calendar that does not undermine the interests of the clubs – the building blocks of their own federations – then they should be sacked and the structure dissolved.
If international football was abolished I would look back with fond nostalgia as with the Home Internationals, the Texaco Cup or FA Cup Final Grandstand but I wouldn’t be too upset.
We would gain because our players would not be knackered from playing an extra ten or 12 games a year – and we know how the poor lambs like their rest – or jet-lagged from flying to Sydney to thrash the Cook Islands 13-0. The new £6m signing wouldn’t get injured in a warm-up and impressionable hicks from the sticks wouldn’t have their heads turned by the Big Time Charlies and come back from international breaks demanding a £50,000 grand a week payrise, a Ferrari for every day of the week and weekends off.
What would we lose? An excuse to get drunk every other summer? Who needs an excuse?

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17 thoughts on “Boro 4 England 0

  1. Vic
    Absolutely agree. For me it’s Boro 1st and England way, way back – and the other benefit, as you say – is that we get rid of the bilious Blatter and his like in UEFA and the FA International Committee too.
    Double bubble!
    M. Wenger said much the same thing the other day. He also said that, whereas International football used to be the gold standard, the Champions League is now top of the quality tree. Mind you, he’s missed a lot from that dugout over the last 10 years.
    I we could only get rid of horse racing, cricket and egg-chasing too – then I wouldn’t have to get all ‘disgusted of Reading’ every morning when the sports pages of my newspaper are taken up with stories about those things when everyone knows they should be devoted 95% to footie.
    I have only 1 caveat to all this which I remember to be thankful for every morning when I’m doing my sunrise chanting in front of my Gibbo shrine. If there was no International football and no England Gibbo couldn’t have got the gullible FA to pay us to offload The Ex and we may still be stuck withy him.
    Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land……

  2. Spot on again Vic.Its not really England as a whole,its Laandaan plus who ever.There is not a match goer in this country who would put an anonomous bunch of individuals before their club.

  3. If there was no international football what would all the Blazers do for expenses paid trips abroad?
    What would the sundry pundits do for a living?
    If there was no international football where would our bloated, overpaid stars get their reality checks? Who amongst the simpering national press dare tell them they are not as good as they think they are before they are exposed on the pitch?
    No, international football does a good job in deflating egos of the prima donnas. At least they have Baldrick to rebuild their self esteem and that is another bonus to set alongside the loss of the man with the Colgate Smile.

  4. The FA like UEFA & FIFA are just money making machines who do not give a toss about football supporters.
    Why not scrap International friendlies all together, if England need to get together pick a squad of players and let them take each other on behind closed doors or at a selected club ground and offer fans free admission?
    How can anyone take the FA seriously when the new Wembley has taken longer to build than the Great Wall of China?
    When they charge Joey Barton for showing his arse, yet turn a blind eye to Zakora diving to win a penalty for Spurs against Pompey?
    How many times have we heard that they are to weed out the cheats yet do nothing?
    The FA are a joke, the above and making MaClaren manager seems proof enough to me, and as you and others have said, 99% of fans would put their club side before England given a choice.

  5. AV you’ve hit the mark again. I don’t give a monkies about international football, watching England comes a poor second to watching Boro.
    In the games against Basel and Steau I found myself kneeling 12″ from the tele, fists clenched and screaming, there is no way, not even England in a cup final that emotion could be reproduced watching England.
    As for Stewie well the knives have been out for him in the nationals since he was picked in the squad. The fact is because he plays for Boro he will either be crucified or if he plays brilliantly the nationals will be writing stories of his imminent transfer to Chelsea etc. We can’t win either way.
    -However I will allow myself a little smile when the England team is picked which contains Woodgate and Downing in the first eleven. That day will come, not bad for a club with a catchment a fraction of the size of the big boys.

  6. Yep,
    What a load of old rubbish international football has become. I can’t stand watching England play since the start of the Eriksson era. The standard from the ‘world class’ players selected is dire. Even in current form I would back the Boro to take England to the cleaners.
    And Vic, you didn’t even mention the infamous Graham Kelly/three points fiasco.

  7. I think it must also be mentioned that Our Stewie was hugging the touchline like instructed (and suggested by many TV pundits) against FYROM.
    This was the game plan from Ste Mc-C but for some reason everyone forgot about it (except Stewie) including “World Class” players Lamps, Stevie G and Spud Ed…yet Stewie gets the most stick for not being in the game AND prodcing one bad cross despite not having seen the ball all game.
    There are countless occasions when I scream at the TV for England…GIVE THE BALL OUT WIDE!!

  8. Here’s another thing. Why hasn’t anybody (eg Five live) picked up on the fact that the players from ‘the cream of English football’, in particular Chelski and Man Yoo are bored playing for England. No other word for it.
    Their clubs pay them fortunes for the minimum effort and playing for England is a nigglesome sidetrack. You can see it when they line up for the national anthems, when they attempt to tackle etc . Where is the pride ? It’s long gone.
    The big money comes from the Clubs and 3 Lions on the chest is merely a distraction. Shame on them all. Stewart Downing, is of course exempt from this rant because he still has his feet on the ground. He should be encouraged, not maligned as he has been.

  9. WE’RE ALL BORO DAFT AND YES MAYBE CLUB COMES BEFORE COUNTRY BUT I RECKON I’VE GOT AT LEAST FOURTY YEARS IN ME. I’VE TRAVELLED THE WORLD AND HAD SOME GOOD TIMES. I’VE SEEN BORO LIFT SILVERWEAR. I CAN’T HELP THINKING I WONT DIE A HAPPY MAN UNTIL I SEE ENGLAND LIFT A TROPHY.
    YOU KNOW I SPEAK TO MY OLD MAN ABOUT THE CUP FINALS WITH BORO, THE UEFA CUP FINAL. DO YOU KNOW WHAT HIS REPLY IS TO EVERYTHING I DO?…….YEAH BUT WEMBLEY, 1966……….I WAS THERE!
    IT PAINS ME TO SAY THIS BUT I DON’T THINK ANY OF US WILL EVER SEE MIDDLESBROUGH AS CHAMPIONS. CARDIFF WAS SPECIAL, EINDHOVEN COULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME.
    AN FA OR UEFA CUP (OR AT A ROMANTIC PUSH, CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOOTBALL) IS THE MOST WE CAN EVER HOPE FOR. LET US BE GREATFUL. WE’VE FLIRTED WITH THOSE TROPHIES AND AT LEAST IT’S SOMETHING TANGIBLE. IT’S A LOT MORE THAN MOST COULD EVER DREAM OF.
    BORO AND ENGLAND HAVE FOURTY YEARS TO COMPLETE A DOUBLE. LETS HOPE THEY DO IT.
    WHAT ODDS ON LEE CATTERMOLE TO LIFT BOTH TROPHIES?

  10. Chris
    If Eng-er-land are ever going to win anything again we have to do something different to what we’ve been doing for the last 40 years (and, arguably, if you count ’66 as an aberration ‘cos we were on our own turf, since the ’50s when Hungary showed us up).
    Ever since, almost, we’ve been relying on the so-called ‘British’ virtues of work rate, passion and commitment and very little else. We’ve always had an anti-coaching prejudice.
    What we fail to recognise is that what we describe as virtues the very successful nations and teams regard as the absolute basics that everyone should have and that these get you the right to play – necessary but far from sufficient. We still think it’s enough. If you doubt that read the quotes from the England camp this morning.
    Of course, our great club sides in Europe from the era when most players were Brits – Celtic, Liverpool, ManU and Forest under Cloughie knew that you had to be able to battle for the right to play but then you had to be able to play a bit too – as individuals but also as a team.
    Things have got worse still, recently, on the anti-coaching front. I don’t think that’s been helped by the ‘professionalisation’ of coaching – the ‘getting the badges’ bit. Not that I think that qualification is bad per se but getting the badge doesn’t mean you can coach, inspire and lead individuals and a team.
    If I take a parallel in the business world – I meet many people with MBAs who could recite you the theory but can’t do-the-do. So, in recruiting you still need to differentiate from all those with the qualification who can do the job and who can’t. It’s the same with the UEFA badges and licences – but I can’t help feel that just the badge and not the badge plus the competence is what gets looked at.
    Also, the average (and I mean that in terms of skill not just mathematically from the sample) has got harder to work with. When you’ve even got Fergie saying that they are spending more time on egos than they are on fitness and skills training and teamwork and that he knows of Prem clubs where the players run the training sessions and, in effect, decide tactics because they think they know best – then we know we’re in trouble.
    All this compounded by the fact that they earn the ‘s*d you’ salaries.
    I think that this is the position that Eng-er-land are in currently and have been for some time. The Ex being there won’t help, of course.
    And yet there are examples from other sports that we can look to where you can see the effect of team management and teamwork applied brilliantly.
    Look at golf – the ultimate in individual sport where silly money is the norm for those at the top. All top golfers practice obsessively and are coached, often by players who have never reached the dizzy heights but who can coach technique (the skills are different). Many use sports psychologists and fitness/health coaches too – and pay for them themselves.
    In the individual majors a European rarely wins and they don’t often come near the top of the world rankings. But put them together in a Ryder cup team with a leader they can work with and look what happens. All of a sudden the European also-ran individuals skin a group (not a team) of US superstars who on any given day would win a non-team event hands down.
    Eng-er-land came closest to getting that cocktail right in recent times in ’96 under El Tel.
    Will we ever recapture that and do the suits who run the game even recognise that we need to do things differently to do so.

  11. To follow on from John’s comments, the English game is awash with money.
    The England team are treated like royalty, the FA moved into swish new headquarters in Soho Square, Wembley is an expensive shambles (not the stadium, the cost) and what happens to the FA centre at Burton? Shelved.
    This was to be the place where we could develop world class youngsters, to mirror the work the French did to reach the top. We have our own acadamies which are starting to produce the next generation but as soon a player has a dip in form he is torn to shreds by the press. The players we turn out are worthy players but if you look at most premiership teams the playmakers are not English.
    So what is the exhortation to our players for tonight? Passion, attitude, character. All admirable virtues in their but not enough to become world beaters.

  12. Spot on Vic, and John Powls, too.
    I vowed to stop watching England the day after the Quarter Final fiasco in Gelsenkirchen in the summer, which for me highlighted all the resons why we wont win the World Cup for a long, long time. I cant say I miss it. Give me Boro any time.

  13. ” …and impressionable hicks from the sticks wouldn’t have their heads turned by the Big Time Charlies and come back from international breaks demanding a £50,000 grand a week payrise, a Ferrari for every day of the week and weekends off.”
    So how many Ferraris have you got Vic ?

  14. There is an answer to the question posed by Vic.
    They gave me a laugh when the second went in, not a happy joyful laugh, maybe a disbelieving guffaw.
    These turned into hysterics as MacMoses – chosen to lead us to the promised land – and sundry disciples came out talking about the fact we were controlling the game.
    It was like watching a football version of the office. It makes you squirm but you cant switch off and you till laugh however uncomfortable you feel.

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