A definition of mediocrity?
With the World Cup in full swing and the English team doing their best to cause as many heart failures as possible the usual barrage of Blame Throwers and self immolation is under way. I do wonder however if we should really expect the national squad to be as good as everyone wants and expects them to be? On the face of it the answer would seem to be a resounding ‘Yes’, after all the Premiership is thought to be the best in the world and the amount of money the team takes home would seem to imply some sort of elite status for both the Manager and players.
A cursory look at the raw data however suggests our expectations should be far, far lower as England’s record in international competition is mixed at best. Between 1872 when the country played it’s first international match and the game against Algeria on 18th of June 2010 England has played a total of 886 times, won 502 times, drawn 213 times and lost 0n 171 occasions, which is admittedly above average but only just. When it really counts though it doesn’t look quite so good. Apart from the win in 1966, which on closer examination wasn’t as clear cut as the historical narrative would have us believe, the best we’ve managed is 4th in 1990 with probably the best team to ever put on an England shirt. The European Championship hasn’t been any better with a 3rd in 1968 and a semi final place in 1996.
I shall now be trying to watch all future England games knowing the blokes in the England shirts are as good as we or they think they are and then we can treat any win as the half full pint glass it is!