It’s happening again. Unusually from the national media rather than the one-eyed, sycophantic, obscenity-chanting fans.
England are making great progress under new manager Gareth Southgate apparently. A bizarre statement when you consider England won every qualification game on the way to Euros disaster under hopeless Roy Hodgson. Things haven’t got any better. If anything they are just the same.
Southgate’s strengths, as far as I can see, have been seeing sense and dumping past-it Wayne Rooney from the squad (and please FA, don’t organise a friendly international so this slow-witted lump can say goodbye) and from not being either Hodgson or Sam Allardyce.
I’m surprised how easily Southgate has placated the hard-nosed (and presumbaly frustrated and fed-up) national hacks.
He’s achieved this feat by being personable and charming. He certainly hasn’t achieved it by setting-up teams to play good, entertaining football.
Even a ludicrous soundbite about insisting the players call him ‘Gareth’ rather than ‘Gaffer’ was given the positive headline treatment.
That friendly approach will doubtless have Germany and Spain quaking in their boots. You never know Iceland might also be intimidated.
Give me an unpopular eccentric in charge any day of the week, as long as he delivered results. I’d take Graham Westley over Southgate on that basis alone.
I’d even have Allardyce back over a bloke whose managerial CV contained just a relegation with Middlesbrough before he was over-promoted by the clipboard-carrying clowns who run the national side these days.
Were those who critique England games asleep in Wembley Stadium last weekend when Lithuania were beaten 2-0 in a witless, boring display?
I assume so given the praise handed out to Jermain Defoe for tapping the ball into an empty net from six yards and for the acclaim central defender Michael Keane received for accepting and delivering six-yard passes.
Keane wasn’t actually required to perform any defensive duties which sadly will be the case until England reach Russia next year as these qualification competitions just get easier and easier.
When England can beat B nations like Iceland and challenge A nations like Germany I will accept we are an international force.
But I’m sorry nothing Southgate has said or done persuades me a successful World Cup is on the way.
Southgate is a nice man. I will remember him fondly for being the manager brave enough to call time on Rooney’s ego-driven career.
But he’s also the man who thinks Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can play as a central midfielder in international football.
Fast forward 15 months and Southgate’s job will be under threat after a disappointing World Cup campaign. It’s as inevitable in England as summer rain.