An Open Letter To The English Football Association

Subject: An Open Letter To The English Football Association
From: An Englishman and fan of good football
Date: 2 Jul 2016

Dear FA

Last night the nation witnessed what can be achieved when a nation unites behind its team and a team unites for its nation. The suggestion this morning that the entire England squad should be forced to pull the open top bus carrying the glorious Welsh team through the streets of the principality on their return home is the minimum humiliation we could expect from such a lacklustre and hopeless showing at another major football tournament. But instead Hodgson, his backroom team (what on earth did they spend their time doing?) and the "players" (if we can call them that in anything other than a broadly descriptive sense) pocket their wages and slide off to tan their sorry arses on the beaches of the world before returning to pre-season training when everything will probably be forgotten. Except that it won't be.

English football fans are sick of being the laughing stock. They are sick of false dawns and they are sick of uninspired, unintelligent, embarrassing, excuse ridden, faux apologetic, shambolic preparation and performance. But what greets the collective depressive sigh of the nation the morning after we tumble out of the Euro's to a team co-managed by a dentist? News that Gareth Southgate is favourite to become the new manager. Is this some sort of sick joke? Notwithstanding the fact that not even he wants the job. Even someone patently average at best doesn't want to be England manager. What are you lot doing and why is it that such a metronomic procession of abject failures doesn't cause you such acute embarrassment that you all resign with your last sorry choice Hodgson?

How can it be anything other than, at turns, alarming and laughable that the system which took us through an admittedly ridiculously easy qualifying group wasn't used once in the finals? How can it be anything but the work of a lunatic that a player with only 141 minutes of playing time was relied on as the creative spark of a woeful midfield? You might not pick the squad, the team or the tactics but you are responsible for trying to find someone who has some idea of how to do it themselves. Time after time you make a choice as far away from the fans choice as it is possible to be. You overlooked Clough in the 80's and Redknapp more recently, and heaven knows how many other adventurous, inspirational and SUCCESSFUL coaches you've cast off along the way. We'll never know. What seems clear is that you favour a man who won't rock the boat, won't create any PR difficulties and, ultimately, won't win anything.

What you seem completely unable to fathom is that most of us are OK with losing football matches. Most of us, statistically, support clubs who are equally as unsuccessful as England. We're alright with that as long as we go down fighting, as long as we feel we've been in a game, as long as it looks like it matters. Don't you understand that right now we're dreaming of losing to Germany on penalties. What sort of a wank show do you think you're presiding over?

Researching the three man team who are charged with the unenviable task of finding someone stupid enough to want to manage England I see one of you has a background in biscuits, one of you has been at the FA for a decade and one of you (responsible for "elite development" no less) was brought in with a brief to establish some consistency after the debacle of the 2014 World Cup. In terms of the latter we'd have to applaud Dan Ashworth I suppose because he has, apparently, done just that, ensured that we were shit when he arrived and have continued to be shit ever since. Do you think you explained the objective to him effectively enough? He appears to have got the wrong end of the stick.

David Gill, ten years at the FA, a decade in which the national team has not developed at all. Aren't you ashamed of yourself? If any Vice-Chairman of a FTSE 100 company was at the helm for such an extended period of disappointment I would imagine he would be arriving for work under a false moustache and a very large hat if he were there at all.

I notice that FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn said, after Hodgson's resignation. "Iceland is not your epitaph or legacy. There's a lot to be grateful for what your team have done" Mr Glenn, are you on crack? What planet are you living on? If anything these weasel words do nothing more than illustrate why our national team is such a miserable disappointment. If, in your biscuit days, by some terrible mishap the lettering across a Digestive didn't read "McVities" but instead displayed "Hopeless Bell Ends" would you have suggested to the employee responsible that it wasn't his "legacy" or "epitaph" as he collected his P45 from HR? No, I didn't think so.

The England football team has won 6 games in tournament finals since 1966 and, even with my dubious arithmetical ability, that's one every decade. One every decade. If, as you say Mr Glenn, there is "a lot of strength in the squad" then it must be the awful choices you lot make to find a manager that are doing the damage. How about turning your attention away from the car crash that has been Hodgson's tenure and instead having a good long look at yourselves. When a team isn't performing, look at the manager. When the manager isn't performing look at the half wits who picked him in the first place.

I fully accept that we are, in part at least, architects of our own disappointment because we as football fans always think the England football team is better than it is. But why don't we learn from it? Why do we choose coaches and managers that try to be too clever and play in ways that don't suit us? Why do we pick managers that insist on playing people out of position or completely overlooking players that are in sparkling form. Danny Drinkwater. What on earth does a player like him have to do to get a look in? Is it because he isn't at a big club? What does this mentality do to our team and the players that aspire to play for their country? Don't you see this? Can't you understand how basic and obvious it is? When these horrendous decisions are made don't you wake in the night in a cold sweat?

It is quite clear that you are experts in moving the deckchairs on the Titanic. Just consider this quote from Mr Glenn earlier this week, "We tried some things differently: we got the players earlier from the clubs, we went around the country so the players could experience going from city to city and we shared medical records for the first time," Are you fucking joking? Taking them on a bus to see Liverpool and Manchester and making sure that everyone knows they have a slight calf strain?? Well, I'm astonished that we didn't win Euro 2016 and that we aren't a certainty for the next World Cup with stellar preparation like that. Honestly, it beggars belief.

At the moment, perhaps like no other time since we last played in a way that at least made the majority of us feel proud, the country needs a shot in the arm. I don't know how much the players care about International football and I am not about to take counsel on that question from Peter Crouch but we at least need to believe that they care. It seems increasingly certain that however good or bad we are technically psychologically we are wafer thin. If you select yet another grey "yes man" manager, apart from the dismay but resignation across the country the players too will be uninspired and disinterested. Just for once could you make a selection that we all believe in, someone who gives us some sort of hope that we might be able to cobble together a performance that is reasonable?