Tuesday, 27 May 2008

English Footbal culture says a lot about the English culture itself; a country of 12 year old kids

This is an excellent post of John Nicholson on UK MSN SPORT , it says it all...

So: What Terry`s Tears Said About Us ( or about Britain)

"There can be few blokes who really are 'a man's man' who would not have felt a degree of nausea, if not outright contempt at the waterfall of John Terry's tears last Wednesday. But his display served a very good purpose. It illustrated exactly what is wrong at the core of English football.
As England's national side comes into focus again this week, there is much Fabio Capello can learn from Terry's emotional breakdown. Let's get this right, if you are weeping so uncontrollably for so long just because you have lost a football match, you are emotionally immature; you are a boy in a man's body. I cried like that when England drew with Poland in 1973 and thus failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup. I was 12. .
Few of us go through life without an occasional watery eye - more usually born of joy rather than disappointment - but we reserve the proper out-and-out crying for life and death matters, not for football. If you are crying that much about football, what on earth are you going to do if, God forbid, a real tragedy strikes you? Where is left to go emotionally? It's bitterly ironic that the press are still so intent on painting Terry as a specifically English icon and hard man when the traditional English way is the exact opposite of his behaviour.
The traditional English way is the stiff upper lip; emotion is expressed only in private and if shared then only with loved ones. Publicly expressed emotion is for the weak and the self indulgent. It is certainly not the sort of thing leaders of men indulge in. It is undignified and shows lack of character. And yet we are told he is still 'England's lion'.
The same things were said about Tony Adams even when his life was in a mess and he was a raging alcoholic. Why are these type of people so many English fans heroes? Is dysfunction attractive? Is it now the norm? Let's not kid ourselves, we have a real problem here. Other sports just don't do sobbing losers.
There seems to be something about English football culture that suspends the participants adulthood, trapping some in Peter Pan teenage world. Too many players today behave like petulant children. When you see Rooney, his face looking all pink and bee-stung with rage at some perceived injustice hunting down the ball angrily, you see a teenage boy who has lost control. Ashley Cole's 'I-turn-my-back-on-you' behaviour looked like a parody of a twelve year-old that won't go to his bedroom.
This type of behaviour is emotionally dysfunctional and certainly not the sort of thing a man in his mid twenties should be doing on a football pitch. Where is their self control? While footballers have always lost their temper, and occasionally have had a whack at each other, the sort of over-wrought emotion expressed by some of today's prima-donnas is not the kind of Francis Lee punching Norman Hunter anger.
It's mere childish, self-centred emotionalism. Having everything done for you and earning inconceivably huge amounts of money must all contribute to this fantasy cartoon world at the centre of which is their own glorious self and their own fabulous ego. When something happens to shatter this illusion, is it any wonder they go off the edge? England players are widely regarded as having a psychological problem playing for the national side now, and it isn't too fanciful to tie the character of these mannish-boys into their on-pitch failures. Too many of England's players are not sufficiently emotionally developed to cope with high pressure situations such as the Croatia game, and especially penalty shoot-outs.
Add to that the selfish need to try and maintain their over-inflated personal legend status and you end up with players charging around trying to be the super hero or simply going missing altogether. Team work goes out of the window and individualism takes over. It is significant that during the Portugal game at the last World Cup, Owen Hargreaves was many people's man of the match and of the tournament. He kept his head when everyone else was losing it, kept disciplined in his role and was the only one to score a penalty. He was far more disciplined and in control than those around him.
Hargreaves is not a product of English football culture. He is a product of German football. That can't be a total co-incidence. (Interestingly, after a season in the Premier League, he is starting to show signs of indiscipline and petulance - perhaps learning it as the 'right' way to react from the likes of Rooney) In Germany which is the most successful European nation there has always been more maturity to most players. They have always seemed less hysterical, more firm minded and have had more good old fashioned bottle. If we had 11 Hargreaves that day, we would almost certainly have prevailed. But we didn't and once again we saw Terry in full self-pitying, weeping mode again. Hargreaves didn't cry but he had given more than anyone. This is instructive. The German team ethic has dominated over the personal desire for glory and that's how it should be. It works, as three Euros and three World Cup wins show. It is only through teamwork that the individuals can shine. That's how Greece won in 2004. It doesn't guarantee victory - Germany lost to an equally tough-minded, resolute Italian side in the 2006 semi-final - but it gives you a much better chance.
England's failure in the now distant past has been caused by lack of tactical awareness, by lack of fitness, by lack of basic good skill and by poor management. England's failure in this century has included all of these elements but with this new crippling emotional self-centredness thrown in as well. On top of that there's a whole strand of English popular culture which absolutely worships them for their fame and money. I imagine them to be the sort of people who watch 'Katie & Peter' and who go on reality shows because they 'really, really want this' whatever the 'this' is. They copy David and Victoria's hair cuts and buy Heat and Hello. And on top of that there's the press and TV media which takes good English players and over indulges their talent and exaggerates their capabilities because it sells well to a section of the public that is far too eager for heroes to worship.
If Capello wants England to succeed this all needs to be tackled head-on. He has already talked about player's mentality not being right; that they lack self belief despite being at the peak of the domestic game. And yet continental players are also subjected to the same culture when playing in England but often deal with it better. This is just a subjective opinion and it's a bit of a generalisation that I can't back up with hard fact but it's always seemed to me that the overseas players who play in the Premier League are by and large far more intelligent people, far more rounded than many of their English counterparts.
Put crudely, we produce Steve McClarens while Italy produces Fabio Capellos. When you hear men like ex Chelsea defender, Marcel Desailly, or current stars like Fabregas, Torres and Toure they come over as people who are to some degree sophisticated; for a start they're often bi-lingual. Clearly there are examples to contradict this but it does seem to be a generalization which has substance. Perhaps this is why these men don't end up in the Priory and don't generally behave like Motley Crue let loose at the Playboy Mansion, as desirable as that might be. The game is producing largely uncultured boys without the intelligence, education or incentive to grow up. There's far too much emphasis on that favourite of the phone-in passion, and not enough on perspective. Capello has to select a team on the basis of strength of character and attitude as well as on ability. We need players who are calmer, more rational and less prone to believing their own hype; players who are not so wrapped up in themselves; players who don't cry when things go wrong. In an era of shallow emotion, celebrity culture and rampant self indulgence, this seems unlikely but we should all fervently hope that it does because if it doesn't I shall scream and scream until I'm sick. "

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