... although, as an Englishwoman, it goes without saying I hope I'm proven wrong.
The distinct lack of heart within the team against Algeria, combined with Rooney's little tirade set me thinking as to why the national football team appear to suffer a lack of motivation. And I'm probably being mean, but I think it comes down to need.
English Premiership players enjoy an extraordinary lifestyle, with money and riches that far outstrip any of our other professional sportsmen and women, many of whom consistently deliver the results at World level: Our triathletes, rowers, swimmers, sailors, cyclists and so on - you know who they are if you're a regular reader of this blog. Even our rugby and cricket teams, vilified if they lose, have both delivered world titles in the past seven years - and seriously, who expects them to win every time out? Except the media, obviously. But the players know they have to deliver consistently or they're out, there's always someone new waiting to take their spot. Where's that strength in depth in football? It's the single biggest sport in this country isn't it? (Apart from fishing and martial arts I believe - and competitors in both deliver on the world stage).
So why? As I say, I think it's need: Individuals in the so-called "unfashionable" sports have to deliver and keep on delivering, to retain funding or attract sponsorship and to keep their place in the squad. Steve Redgrave, from my distant memory, didn't have regular sponsorship until after his third Olympic Gold. His third, for goodness sake! They have to deliver, again and again, to be able to compete at the same level. But our professional footballers don't need to, do they? They've got their £100k a week contract, irrespective of injury or loss of form and seem to retain their place in the national side even if suffering from both. Is there any strength in depth? (My teen son said he'll play for England for nothing, he can at least control the ball! Meiow!) Ian Botham said just pulling on the England shirt was motivation enough.
From being able to name the whole Ashes 2005 side, I'm struggling now to name any (just too busy to keep up, sorry lads!) Likewise the rugby team has changed majorly since the 2003 World victory. But the football team? I reeled off who the squad was likely to be and yet I take less notice of football than I do anything else. So does it come down to media pressure, building them all up so much it gives us false hopes or a management too scared to try anyone new? Everyone has an off day - but the whole team practically at the same time? Something seriously lacking, isn't there? Pride? Desire? Need? We'll see on Wednesday.