The end of the year is a good time to sit back and reflect - and frankly there is not much to be cheery about.
The so-called ‘Golden Generation’ of English football were more like the ‘Blank Generation’ given their clueless departure from this summer’s World Cup.
They were as far away from winning the tournament as they have been at any time since 1966. But given everything – the venue (Germany) and year ending in a 6, we convinced ourselves we could do it.
Look at the parallels with English cricket and rugby – which are in as much disarray as the football team.
The rugby team, which was ageing in 2003, peaked to win the World Cup then, but has been a shadow of that team, because that team got there – deservedly – by the skin of its teeth.
We reclaimed the Ashes in the summer of 2005, also by the skin of our teeth with a mixture of luck – decisions going our way and the injury to McGrath and a bit of inspiration from the likes of Flintoff.
But we went on to convince ourselves we were best team in the world because we had just beaten the best team in the world – Australia.
It would be a brave person who bets against a 5-0 whitewash by the time every returns to work in January.
Are their parallels between the three sports? I’d say ’yes’.
As Englishmen, we have a problem. We cannot bear to think that all these sports which we effectively invented are done better by other nations.
This has been the case for more than half a century and only occasionally do we have the best team.
Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, Brazil, Germany and others consistently have world-beating sides based on talent.
We continuously live in a state of expectation over reality – the reality of the paucity of talent.
The culture from an early age in all these countries means sport is taken seriously in a completely different way.
It’s not about the culture of winning – it’s about the culture to instil the right technique into young sports players from the earliest ages.
It is because we concentrate on winning and not technique when they are young, that when winning becomes important as adults we don’t have the ability at the highest level.
I can’t see this changing, so why is there any reason to be cheerful this Christmas.
Lawrence Gosling is group editorial director at Incisive Media.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
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