Anyone But England?

Every reader of this site, and in this piece I address all of them, is watching the World Cup. There is much to admire. The VAR Tech/Instant Replay innovation is a breath of fresh air. When one watches replays of incidents on Match of The Day the pundits have watched the game live and then reviewed the talking points in slow motion. They can then highlight anomalies. Empowering a referee with the technology that has been hitherto the preserve of pundits has had an unexpected bonus. One anticipated more accuracy but how many of our number envisaged this technological innovation would enhance the drama?

I guess that only a handful of my readers watch Russia Today. Peter Schmeichel in conversation with FIFA President Gianni Infantino – and his advocacy of VAR – was one of the many highlights of their World Cup coverage. As a free-to-air public broadcaster with no advertising RT does not have the means to televise the games. However the analysis of Jose Mourinho is second to none. Stan Collymore has his own magazine, as does Alex Salmond. I have not seen the latter’s broadcasts and I have no intention of watching. Others of an Independence bent might be more attuned to his discourse.

This channel which broadcasts in English is perceived as Putin’s mouthpiece. I have yet to encounter any pro Putin propaganda but there can be little doubt that he and his government exercise editorial control. RT’s commentators’ take on Wall Street and the world of finance is so refreshingly radical and dare I say honest that I find it compelling. Everything you ever wanted to know about crypto currency but were afraid to ask.

I digress. Scotland is not a participant in the world’s premier football festival. No-one has a right to be there bar the host nation. The conspicuous absence of Italy and The Netherlands might give some succour, but these are blips not systemic problems. I did not agree with the dismissal of Gordon Strachan. I’m certain that this thought has occurred to others but were the SFA more upset by the preponderance of Celtic players in his teams than his inability to qualify? The prosaic fact is that Celtic have the best Scottish players. If one compensates for their non Scots in central defence one has the basis of a winning team.

This is frowned upon by the SFA and the SMSM as the official line is that they want the Scottish team to be representative of all clubs; the unofficial line is that those plying their trade at Ibrox must be accommodated. With the latter in mind they first approached Walter Smith EBT and finally settled on Alex McLeish EBT. McLeish who failed miserably in every job where tax evasion was not the norm, was chosen due to his Ibrox credentials. His former tenure in the Blue Room could be sold to those stupid enough to attend Hampden for a series of meaningless friendlies.

There are many reasons for Scotland’s abject failure to qualify for major tournaments. Money is and will always be a factor. However if one spends receipts at the gates on lacklustre English lower league players in preference to developing home grown players, the Scottish game will always lose out. The Rangers Football Club have an excuse as they are a new club who could not attract the best Scottish players of a former club, but what excuse can be proffered by Aberdeen which at one time gave so many players to the Scottish cause? The relegation of Hibs and Hearts is also a causal factor in the demise of the Scottish game. In a perfect world where all teams produced World Cup quality players I contend that the SFA’s bias towards Ibrox based players would continue to undermine the Scottish National team.

McLeish and the SFA’s management by committee will inexorably lead to failure in the next two tournaments. There are no visionaries at Hampden. There will be no VAR technology in Scotland. The SFA has yet to implement goal-line technology. Will Maxwell – the man who introduced the world’s first acid house mascot – lead us out of the Dark Ages or will he like Regan pander to the executives at Ibrox and be dragged down to their level?

McRae, the president of the SFA, adds nothing to the Scottish Game. He may have been a big swinging dick at Cove Rangers but that in no way prepares one for the challenges of the professional game.

The SFA is run like a golf club where everyone wants a pro-am with ‘Rangers’ players.

Next up is Petrie who is so compromised by the Five Way Agreement that he should resign.

When it comes to the World Cup will we always be on the outside looking in? With individuals like McLeish, McRae, Petrie and Maxwell – with their focus on internal politics and a desire to pray in the direction of their Medina viz Ibrox – should one choose another National team to follow?

How about England? Or would one prefer anyone but England? If one has no political axe to grind there is much to admire in the English national team. There are no global superstars on the field or on their bench. Dele Alli is one of the most exciting prospects in the tournament. Harry Kane is a likeable, honest professional. If Mourinho can develop Marcus Rashford he could join the pantheon of the world’s elite; the natural habitat of Cavani and Neymar.

Should England prevail against Sweden, which would be no mean feat, Ceteris Paribus they would face Croatia. Of course other things are not equal. Russia’s place in the last eight is far from deserved. Even with VAR technology there other ways to cheat. Will the officials penalise a Croatia player with two yellow cards to assist Russia’s progress? Should England meet Russia on a level playing field in the Semi-Finals they have every chance of being in the Final.

The most impressive team in the tournament is France. I’m really looking forward to their game against Uruguay. Cavani is a game changer but I anticipate France progressing. I would prefer Belgium to beat Brazil, as Neymar – one of the most talented players of his or any other generation – is an unconscionable cheat. His malevolent histrionics to solicit an opponent’s dismissal should be punished with retrospective action by FIFA. It does not take VAR technology to see through Neymar. He embodies the best and worst of the beautiful game.

So who would one prefer to win the World Cup?  England with their honest professionals or Brazil with Neymar? How about Russia v England. I have little doubt that the Pink Pound at Follow Follow would plump for the Queen’s Eleven, but not necessarily for football reasons. Would one choose Russia whose athletes and officials engaged in systemic cheating at their very own Winter Olympics?

How about our Scandinavian neighbours Sweden? Or the Entente Cordiale with France? I am fluent in French and given that I’m watching the World Cup in the company of Frenchmen it would be impolite to openly support Les Rosbifs. But in my private moments I am supporting England and I am delighted that they sent Colombia packing last night.

I am aware of all the political agendas. The forces of the Crown Et cetera. But last time I checked Raheem Sterling was on the wing not Oliver Cromwell. Independence jihadists would have a hard time justifying their support for England. But how can anyone justify supporting the SFA’s Scotland?





19 thoughts on “Anyone But England?”

  1. Well said.
    I’m over the anyone but England shite.
    It should not define us.
    90 minute patriots are the problem.

  2. JJ,
    Thought provoking stuff as usual.
    In my humble opinion, the biggest mistake the SFA made in conjuntion with the teams, was to stop the reserve leagues and replace with the stupid ‘Development’ squads.
    Being a football coach with academy players, it dismaid me so much to hear’ get rid of the bloody thing’, ‘ who do you think you are? Pele’.. and so on. I once refereed a game where the ‘coach’ was shouting and swearing at 8 year old kids. I politley asked him to stop. ‘FUCK OFF, ITS GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU’ was the response.
    We keep talking about grass roots football, but when basically anybody can pay money to become a coach, what hope is there. I reached level 3 youth coach, and stopped because people were just turning up and getting a coaching badge. Of course, who gained? The SFA who charge a fortune for this opportunity.
    I fully accept there are some really good coaches out there, and most do it for the right reasons, but we need to get to a stage in this country where our kids are tought properly. If this is done through better PE at school, all the better. This is not just about football, but all sports. We should have technical coaches at each school, or at least offer this after school, but where will the money come from?
    Another thing that gets on my nerves is still having to pay for council grass pitches, what the hell do we pay our council tax for?
    The SFA are not fit for purpose, but how do we get rid of them?
    The young guys with ability are being pushed far away.
    So annoyed not seeing us at big events, but until we are really aggressive about change, nothing will change.
    Project BRAVE, what a lot of crap
    Get the U20’s playing in junior football. Let them develop against bigger. stronger and rougher players. This could lead to money filtering through to smaller clubs
    Rant over

  3. Good piece JJ. Personally I couldn’t give much of a flying feck about Engurland but I’m glad that should they succeed, I no longer work in the company of some of their support. I fancy France to do it tho. In any case I shall miss England’s next adventure as I shall be in Dublin’s Fair City to watch the Battle of the Hoops this weekend but hoping Inspector Lustig fulfils his duties! Regards

  4. Hi JJ,
    Another interesting take from you on a topic for which i have strong feelings.
    I haven’t attended a Scotland game for many years, mainly down to the gross incompetence over decades shown by the “leaders” of our game and also their systematic fraudulent behaviour concerning a now dead club and their reincarnated version.
    I love reading your articles which are the ONLY ones available in circulation that provide such an articulate and forensic dissection of the corruption in our game.
    Best regards

  5. Football support is a feel thing. You can’t just decide to support the auld enemy because you’ve been thinking too hard.

    The only remaining countries that I would be content to see winning are Sweden, France and Belgium. My delight in these tournaments comes from witnessing the pain of others!

    The truth is that I don’t care who wins as long as it isn’t England. That is part of many Scots DNA when it comes to football and you cannae just decide otherwise. You can’t rationalise it. It is what it is.

  6. I find myself in total agreement with you on the world cup for the same reasons.
    As for Scotland? I remember crossing a swollen riverbank on a barbed wire fence and my worm was still in the water. I caught a nice trout in the backwater in less than ten square feet of swollen tea brown H20. Until the handshakers are outed and drowned, Scotland will continue to be a puddle of pee.

  7. Im firmly of the Scotland,Ireland and anyone playing England camp.
    That said credit where its due this England squad is an entirely different breed of cat from the teams that England sent to international play since Ive been following football-circa 94 to now.
    Hitherto the squad was littered with so called stars and worse stars whose best days had departed who dragged the team down (Beckham towards the end eg)
    Didnt help that the managers were dross and let the inmates run the asylum-or so it seemed to me.
    Southgate to me has done a very good job with this group demonstrating an ability to deploy his players in ways that exploit their talents and shield their weaknesses .
    He has ,it seems to me a pragmatic and professional mindset.
    He wd no doubt like it if they could play 90 minutes of scintillating tikka takka football but thats not his squads game and he doesnt try it.
    England have never lacked for industrious mids with great engines who run around the pitch all match (generally without any apparent end result Henderson leaps to my mind) but they can wear a team down .
    In Kane they have an efficient striker ,not flamboyant maybe and doesnt dazzle with dribbling or passing but at the end of the day you look up and he has one or two goals most games.
    There is a mental resilience to this squad which is admirable and I think lacking a bit in earlier squads -I think Southgates man management skills may have something to do with that.
    Back 4 (or 3) doesnt dazzle but gets the job done.
    Pickford has not put a foot wrong with at least one outstanding stop vs Columbia not to mention in penalties as well.
    England is always overhyped by local media -which is how we see them here but this squad is different they are where they are because theyve earned it on the pitch.
    On paper they wont win it,France and Belguim very strong for example indeed there are no sure wins in the quarters .
    Think this team which has already given a very good account of itself might actually get to the finals although Id prefer Belgium or even France to win it I wouldnt be amazed if England did.
    The expressed wish of the players was they wished to make their country proud and fact is if local support isnt proud of this squad they are hard to please to the point of utter folly.

  8. The campaign against RT in Britain amounts to McCarthyism and is part of a “carefully constructed drama” of trying to discredit the news organization, journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger told RT.
    “I have done work for RT, the former head of the Scottish Parliament Alex Salmond has a program on RT,” Pilger said, adding that the channel has some “very distinguished” people working for it.

    No need to wilfully avoid Salmond as Pilger points out. There are not many programs that will go a deeper on a subject than a magazine article.

    As for Scots supporting Columbia, its safe to say that most Scots under 50 have little Columbia in there blood.

  9. Football has been the winner so far at this World Cup with early exits for some of the pre-tournament exits and more than a few exciting matches. VAR has been a positive with some of the worst refereeing anomalies reviewed and changed, except when the referee has been a complete kn*b, unwilling to admit to having made a mistake. Not sure if the SFA is ready (or ever will be) to implement glasnost on the part of match officials, or indeed anyone within the organisation. Too many skeletons in cupboards one fears.

    The current England team, without the local ‘superstars’ are acquitting themselves well, showing fortitude and resilience beyond their years and have plenty of support from fellow Brits whose teams didn’t make it to Russia. I don’t see them going all the way, but a semi-final berth would be over-achieving based on pre-tournament expectations. Their well-rehearsed attacking set-pieces are lethal, and encourage responses better suited to Murrayfield.

    The quarter finals offer plenty for the footballing purist and neutrals to look forward to.

    Meanwhile, in selecting their new manager, the powers that be at Hampden have gone back to the future. You might be a bit unfair in attributing all his club managerial successes to EBTs, since he did lead a Hibs team to promotion and establish them near the top of the table. My fear is that his best days are behind him and that the game has moved on leaving his style of play and tactics irrelevant. If Scotland wish to build a new team, based on younger players, they would do well to look at the model England were forced to adopt after the demise of ‘Big Sam’. A young, relatively inexperienced coach was promoted from the Under 21 side to develop a young team and get rid of the dead wood from past tournament failures. McLeish, as his predecessors have (call-ups to 4th tier players Wallace & Black), will require to bow to SFA pandering to the ‘blue pound’ and select sub-standard players.

  10. As someone who lives outside Scotland I have viewed and supported the England teams for many years, even in pubs where my accent has provoked some confusion. The media has a lot to answer for. The English Media is as low brow as the Scottish Media and their fervent hysteria re The National Team does no one any favours and stirs many to Anti Englund leanings-,The English people I have spent over 25 years living beside have no ill feelings towards Scotland and wish Scotland teams well in every game other than Auld Enemy games even if they can be a bit patronising. For me I’m happy to see them progress. Sweden and perhaps Russia may be possible victories but even now I think I’d prefer a heroic semi final exit, I don’t think I could bear a World Cup Win!! The Media beyond overdrive and too much Little Englander Brexit fervour would be unbearable!

  11. You and I disagree on many things. I see Scotland and Scottish Football as a marginal entity seen from the outside as more of a curiosity and an interest than any body of significance or influence. The antics of the SNP here in London do nothing for the reputation of Scotland other than to reinforce the stereotype of being Anti English . I hope we have reached the high water mark of Wee Nicola’s reign. She is certainly being seen more and more as a busted flush in UK Politics.
    The SFA is corrupt to the core in the cesspit of Scottish Football Maxwell is simply the latest Establishment place man to ensure continuity. Regan, McRae and Petrie and CFC should be charged with their compliance to the 5 Way Agreement. It is there in black and white and CCK has his copy in his safe. He can do anything he likes until the 5 Way Agreement is brought out into the light and published in full and those responsible are despatched from any field of influence. Big EBT McLeish has already served his purpose in that the heat is off the SFA, the Media like him for his RRM credentials and as such everyone has moved on. He’s deflected the spotlight. Now we will see RFC players value increase. Bottle far from being box office is not even mentioned in England save by his former teammates when asked by a questioner of Scottish origin.
    Brendan Rodgers has this season in Europe to establish his true credibility for his medium term return to English Football or indeed Spain where I suspect his future may lie. He is expected to hasten Gerrards reality as a pundit and former footballer of excellent ability.

  12. Living and working in the South of England, I have had to endure the constant over enthusiasm shall we call it of your average England fan.

    Personally I think they have been dross so far but say that to the natives and they go apoplectic with rage and general indignation. ( Quite enjoyable really ) and are never slow in telling you that Scotland didn’t qualify.

    I always stifle a yawn at that point, as the days when I would react with the customary venom have faded into memories.

    I couldn’t give a toss about the Scotland team. I love my country as much as the next man but most of the time, the next man seemed to be a bigoted arsehole, hence the move south of the border. Leave the national team to those type of countrymen who are not inclusive, who are not tolerant and who hate a significant part of their own population.

    Having said all that, still can’t bring myself to cheer on England.

  13. Contrast the German response in keeping their coach to Scotland firing Strachan. I think that GS was on the verge of a settled and successful team.

  14. Excellent piece as always throwing up a number of topics to chew over.
    On Neymar; back in the day when I still went to Scotland games, we played Brazil at Arsenal in 2011.
    Neymar was playing and at every challenge/tackle he tumbled over like an acrobat in agony.
    The Scotland fans booed this behaviour as they would for any opposition team/player for ‘simulation’ (think of Christiam Dailly’s rant at Germany a few years earlier for falling over rather easily).
    Anyway Neymar told the lie after the game that he was being booed because he was black, and Scotland fans were racist.
    Leaving aside this libel on the Scotland fans, it also conveniently ignored te fact that his black colleague that day Ramires attracted no antagonism.
    I have kept an eye on the shifty little chap’s antics ever since, and he has certainly been consistent over the past 7 years.

  15. After a few month sabbatical, it is good to be back on this site of excellence. I have taken time off and have written a series of essays which will be serialised in the Jewish Chronicle, Jerusalem Post and, probably The Times. It will focus on an uncomfortable truth. The myth of the Palestinian plight but more importantly, the civil war within Islam.

    You will get exclusive essays.

    I was in Moscow last night watching our lovely boys beating those thugs from Colombia. It was terrific and a thrilling end to an ugly game. For those small and petty folks north of the border who are desperate for England to lose, I have this to say. Your league is awful, broadcasters have no interest, governance is corrupt and the national team is hopeless. Yes, hopeless. Twenty years of failing to qualify for the Euros or the World Cup is abysmal.

    Yet, there you are……yes you…..hoping that England get knocked out. How petty. How pathetic.

    Last night was terrific but what doesn’t get reported is that the Cololombian fans were a disgrace and abusive. Thankfully I was in the soft seats!

    This World Cup has been terrific and a great propaganda campaign by a regime which is similar to the Soviet regime. Like most left wing dictatorships, it’s barbaric, broken and brutal. When the fans have gone, it will be back to reality. A totalitarian state.

    IF England prevail against Sweden (and I fear a Swedish victory) I shall be back for the semis and will stay for the final, whoever is there.

    It’s good to read this site again.

    I shall also comment tomorrow on plagiarism and the guy known as ‘The Useful Idiot’.

    It’s nice to be back.


    1. Welcome back TM. Since you last dropped by you will notice that I am password protecting my pieces. As a general rule of thumb those which are of most interest to the consummate plagiarist will be protected. In an ideal world all my readers would contribute £10 per month. Some prefer to venture £5 per month and have been doing so throughout 2017. Should they write to me via PayPal they will receive a password. Should they badger me on this site they won’t. If I don’t know the reader the threshold is £50. This to deter the individual who posted my previous password elsewhere. Paying £50 to be a smart arse, at which point I will change the password, should weed him out.
      Having said that I want to be as inclusive as possible for the unwaged and retired. Therefore I will continue to publish pieces with no restrictions. I will lose critical acclaim and hits, but as neither pay the rent it’s a price worth paying.If I ask for donations I get called a bheggar. In the final analysis the only individuals excluded from full access to this site are those with malicious intentions and others, including a GP in New Zealand, who can pay but won’t pay.

  16. On another subject I see the Takeover Panel have finally bestirred themselves into instigating contempt of court proceedings. Not before time. I wonder if Club 1872’s war-chest will be redirected the Chairman’s legal costs. It would be just like the Glib & Shameless One to expect the Club/Company to fund his defence.

  17. I’m afraid I want England to be eliminated but not for any of the reasons that the Mensch proposes. When I lived overseas I was utterly ambivalent about England’s prospects and took a neutral view. However living in the UK I have no alternative to English facing commentary. The pundits and media have a lot to answer for and feel like an extension of the Brexiteer mentality. The level of glee at the Germans demise was cringeworthy.

    I also am sick of watching matches that don’t involve England and having to endure a half-time update from the England camp. I want to hear analysis about the match I’m watching and not some inane interview with a mono-syllabic England player.

    I am not a bitter Scot and couldn’t care less whether Scotland qualified as our game is corrupt. England are not overly inclined to cheat but not so sure about honest England players. Maguire dived for a penalty and then thought better of it by alerting the referee that it wasn’t a penalty. Looked like a smart move to avoid a potential yellow card.

    Strange post from PMCG the other day about journalism etc. which seemed like a justification for his existence and regurgitation of previous posts.

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