So England have qualified for the World Cup, admittedly through an incredibly easy group that they should have walked, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about the fact that after only two days the English media have already begun to undermine the team and attempt to ruin any of the good work they did in the last two qualifying matches. Now I want to go into journalism so to sit and slag off the press may seem strange, but the English press and their football team have one of the strangest relationships in the world. While other countries seek to help their team by holding off on information until after match days and so on, publications like The Sun appear to do the exact opposite. They decide to run with some daft racism story about something said at half time in the dressing room which the player himself has dismissed. So why do they do it? Do they want to destroy the confidence of the team? Do they not think that far ahead? God only knows.
Now I’m a Scotland fan so I don’t want the English to win a World Cup and quite frankly anyone that thinks they are good enough to do so is an idiot. However, I think it’s clear that the English media do more to harm the teams chances than good. Whether it be ridiculous expectations (or like the last Euros where they managed to build up ridiculous expectations because they though the lack of expectation might mean they would do really well) or just their love of attacking the manager and players (the whole Jack Wilshere debacle was another example of it, how can saying only the English should play for England cause such controversy!) they are constantly making things more difficult for them. The last Euros saw them build Wayne Rooney up for months as being the man to lead the country to glory and he then went on to have some of the worst form of his career. The funny thing is when it’s all over they’ll then be the ones to shout the loudest about everyone else who can have any tiny portion of the blame foisted on them.
Meanwhile over in Spain a quick look at Marca‘s articles in the build up to their last group game, from which they needed a point to qualify, shows that they ran a story pouring cold water over any rumour of a riff between Arbeloa and Gerard Pique. An article that is obviously setting out to paint a united Spanish team. So why are papers like The Sun not doing the same thing? Why did they choose to create controversy rather than celebrating a young English player who probably had one of the best weeks of his life. I personally think it’s just the way us British are. If they manage to convince themselves before the tournament that the problem isn’t the quality of the players but rather any number of personal issues or managers or wallys with brollys then it doesn’t feel quite as bad when they inevitably plummet out of the tournament in the knock out stages. On the other hand though I do have a sneaking suspicion that the British tabloid press doesn’t actually think that far ahead and are willing to print any story they think will shift papers no matter who it affects.
Whatever the reason it’s clear that while the British press are so determined to undermine everything their national team does they will continue to struggle to succeed. The only way to change it is to stop buying the paper and English fans appear to be in no rush to do so (apart from those in Liverpool obviously).