In the wake of England’s rather lackluster display against Slovenia, Simon Barnes explores why we English still expect to win: “Football is the Last Empire.” Barnes writes that in all other sports, the English have given up any expectancy of dominance. “Football is the one area in which the supremacy of our nation and our culture is taken for granted,” he writes. “In every other sport, in every other aspect of life, we are prepared to admit the superiority of others. But in football we still, quite seriously, expect to win everything.”
Barnes points out that in everything else — from cricket to politics — the English have accepted a more modest role reflecting England’s decline from the pinnacle of power a century ago. “Football has become the last resting place of imperial certainties. It is the only remaining area of life in which the nation is shocked — genuinely shocked, shattered, traumatised — by the superiority of foreign opposition.”
The question is, if this is true, why is an exception made for football?
- FIFA’s action against Chelsea last week may not have been novel, but it does seem to have encouraged more clubs to make complaints. Crewe have reported a Premier League club for an alleged illegal approach to one of their young players.
- In a broadcasting first, England’s World Cup qualifier in Ukraine may be shown domestically only via PPV on the internet, as no-one has yet picked up the rights following Setanta’s bankruptcy.
- Argentina’s failings under Diego Maradona are ably dissected by Joel Richards, lamenting the “chronic level of disorganisation at the back.”
- The controversy about Manchester United’s acquisition of Paul Pogba comes under the microscope, with the Guardian reporting the child’s parents were given a house worth $250k.
- Gareth Wheeler of the Toronto Sun went to Vegas, and was “shocked” to find he couldn’t lay a bet on an MLS game. He says that “until MLS captures the wagering sports fan, it will continue to miss out on a major demographic.”
- An Irish writer from Teamtalk.com has moved to America and experienced his first MLS game. Unfortunately, he went to New York, so you can gather what his conclusions were without clicking the link.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.