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World Cup 2010
It’s Not Easy Being an England Fan
By Shane Clarke
London Correspondent
Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole – all household names considered among the best in their respective positions. They’ve played with and against the world’s best, in all of the biggest events at club level, and their trophy cabinets are bursting at the seams with all the trophies, medals and awards they’ve won.

So, who are these people wearing the England shirts in South Africa right now? These are not the players we know, who thrill us every week as we watch them perform for their clubs, taking to the field like they own it and then striding around like giants among men, leaving us breathless with their skills, their control of the ball, and some stunning goals. Agreed, they look like them, they sound like them, and in interviews they even talk like them. But surely they are not them; surely this is an invasion of the body snatchers and when that guy, Pavlos Joseph, went into the England dressing room, he was looking for the pods that these body snatchers came in.

Okay, you can excuse the game against the US. They are a highly underrated team – don’t forget, a lot of their players earn their livings in the English Premier Division. Goalkeeper Tim Howard had a good spell at Manchester United and is now the number 1 at Everton. Clint Dempsey has been a mainstay at Fulham for years. The list goes on. Then take into account the fact that it was their first match of the tournament, so they would be a bit nervous, they would need time to get into their stride; you can excuse that game – you can’t forgive it – but you can excuse it.

Then there was the Algeria game. On paper, this was the equivalent of me getting into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson. And that was what we were expecting – Mike “England” Tyson dishing out a spanking to Shane “Algeria” Clarke as Shane wet himself, cried like a girl, and begged for mercy. But, as is the tradition with England, it didn’t work out that way. Instead of Mike Tyson climbing into the ring, we got some little schoolgirl, and while she was still favourite to win, there was always the chance that I could get a lucky punch in and take the match.

It was probably the worst performance I have ever seen from an England team. There was no desire, no confidence, we gave the ball away so often that I don’t know why we even bothered to try to get it back again. Even Wayne Rooney – the best player the game has ever seen, in my opinion – played like he belonged in a Sunday league team. So I, along with an entire nation, watched in horror as our “three lions” wandered aimlessly around the pitch like a senile junkyard dog.

I will never understand why England can’t perform at the big tournaments. We have a team filled with players that all the biggest teams in the world would give anything to have at their club. We have enormous talent in every area of the pitch, but when it comes to the big games we turn into a rabbit caught in a car’s headlights. I don’t understand it.

England fans were well within their rights to boo the team off the pitch after their performance. Wayne Rooney was out of order for berating them on camera the way he did. Fortunately he had the good grace to apologise for it.

Now, to anyone who says we should be getting behind our team, we should be picking them up and geeing them on, I say, shut your stupid face! When you have a bad day at work, does anyone get behind you, gee you on and pick you up for the next day? No, you’re more likely to get a roasting from the boss and a warning that if you put too many performances in like that you’ll be out on your ear.

Don’t forget – these people earn a lot more money than you. Most people would have to work more than 5 years to earn what these players earn in a week. “Anyone can have a bad day,” you might say. NO! When you earn £100 grand a week, and you only actually have to perform for 90 minutes in a week, you are not allowed to have a bad day. You’re paid that much money not to have a bad day. If a man went into hospital for a vasectomy and a slip of the surgeon’s knife left him with a few bits missing, would he say to the surgeon, “Hey, come on, mate – everyone has a bad day. Come on – you can do it! You’ll get it right next time. I know you will.”

No, he’ll be straight on the phone to Ambulance Chasers 4 U to put in his claim for no-win-no-fee compensation as he calls the surgeon every incompetent buffoon under the sun. Admittedly, he’ll be doing it in a higher-pitched voice, but he will be doing it. That’s because people are paid so much money not to have bad days. Furthermore, even if you forgive one player having a bad day, should you forgive all 11?!

Then they have the nerve to moan about the fans booing them. Fans that have travelled half the world at great expense to cheer them on. Fans that have to pay their own way and travel in cattle class to reach South Africa. Fans who have no one to pay for a five star hotel and spa for them, and who have to make their own way to the games.

The players moan about being booed? With the money they make they should be staying out on that pitch for half an hour just to be booed. If I was earning £100 grand a week I would. I’d be happy to stand there and be booed.

“You’re rubbish!” They’d shout.

“Thanks,” I’d reply, “but I’ve just bought myself a Bugatti Veyron.”

“Useless!” They would yell.

“Yeah, but you should see my girlfriend.”

Come on England; sort yourselves out. We’re all broke, we have a div for a Prime Minister, and the country’s most famous celebrity at the moment is Peter Andre. Please, for the love of God, give us something to cheer about!

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Shane Clarke serves as London Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He has been involved in humanitarian work for numerous years. He’s also a freelance management consultant. Having completed an honors degree in Law at Wolverhampton University, he then moved on to an MBA at Warwick Business School. He’s heavily involved in the fight against international parental child abduction to Japan.






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