So like a toddler becoming bored with one of their birthday presents, the Suarez incident/ban proved a watershed for the England team, directing press scrutiny away from them and onto the Uruguayan. By 27 June, there was not an article on England’s failings in sight, perhaps this newspaper had realised that they had pointed each finger in every way possible.
Chris Waddle, after the Uruguay game, encapsulated for a few brief sentences exactly what I had noticed during this project.
‘It’s not about picking your star players, and he plays for Liverpool, he plays for Man United, it’s about getting a balance of a side which is going to get you a result,’ he added.
‘And we never ever do.
‘The media is to blame as much as anyone else, because when they drop somebody or they play somebody in a different position, we’re on the case straight away.
‘Other countries go “you know what? I’ve got good players but unfortunately so-and-so is going to sit on the bench tonight”, and are we bothered? No.
‘Until we get that way of thinking, how do you win football matches?
‘You start from the back, then you get organised.
‘And if you’ve got two or three creative players, you build a side around certain players.
‘And that gets your side balanced. It’s not about having the best 11 players you can find, and we never ever ever learn.’
There’s obviously so much more to England’s international problems than simply the media. I cannot stress this enough. I think we have a good group of players but nothing more. The fact that we only beat Norway, ranked 53rd in the world, 1-0 at home yesterday with nowhere near the same amount of scrutiny illustrates this (The Great British Bake Off beat England in the ratings). But the media certainly does not help. If you don’t agree with the points I’ve tried to make during this project then, at the very least, it should be seen as a thorough reference point which tells the story of England’s World Cup in 2014. I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog and of course, it does not end yet, we are now about to embark on our European Qualifying campaign. The team is very much undergoing a transitional phase with a number of changes in personnel. However, I’d imagine the media will remain a constant. We know what expect from them. We’ll see numerous articles now on not only Rooney’s playing position but also his position as captain. I can wait.