Waking up this morning my first thought turned to yesterday’s events. I easily came to terms with the fact we were out of the world cup, probably because after about 70 minutes it was clear the dream was over and that we couldn’t over turn any deficit we were faced with. We had the last 20 or so minutes of the match to start coming to terms with it. Yesterday, for me, it didn’t matter about the result, all that mattered was we were out the world cup. Today, however, my first though was the result; the 4-1. And I felt ashamed, sad, and slightly stupid; stupid to believe all the media talk that we’d wipe the floor with any team we came across at this world cup; but that’s all it was: media talk.
Adverts, newspapers, articles; all making us think we could be world beaters, that we could beat anyone we wanted to and that we hardly had to even lift a finger. That was drummed into ours and the players’ skull so much, that the players even believed they didn’t have to work hard to beat teams such as Algeria. And we didn’t. we didn’t play out of our skins and as a result, we didn’t pick up the wins we needed. The media told us so many times that we would be okay; that we’d win our group easily: but we didn’t, did we? Maybe Franz Beckenbauer was right, maybe we were “stupid” to finish second in our group. We definitely were “stupid” enough to believe the media though; “stupid” enough to go along with the ‘we will win the world cup’ attitude. So “stupid” that none of us thought about the ‘what ifs’ until we drew against Algeria. That’s when it really hit home. That’s when you realised; this ‘dream’ of winning the world cup again was exactly that; it was just a dream.
This world cup for England has been like some sort of big explosion; now we’ve all got to pick up the pieces and try and fit them together so we can work out exactly what went wrong and where it went wrong. I don’t believe it’s the manager, I don’t believe it’s the tactics, I don’t believe it’s the players, I don’t believe it’s down to luck and the fact we never had it on our side; I believe it’s all of those things combined, none of which suit each other perfectly.
They won’t receive a heroes welcome when they arrive back in London like we’d all hoped - or been told - in fact the only place they’d receive a heroes welcome would probably be if they landed at Glasgow airport. They won’t receive a pat on the back, a ‘well done’ or an ‘at least you tried’ because it’d be pretty hypocritical to do all that. They know how they played, they know it wasn’t good enough and they know they now have to face the consequences. We shouldn’t try and protect them from this; it’s all part of football and it’s something by now they should be used to.
Football's not coming home just yet. It's staying in another country for a while, until we do that little bit more to truly deserve it. It'll be more special that way.