Later on this evening, England take on Slovenia and for the first time in a long while, I don’t care.
At all. Even with Wayne Rooney dropped.
That may not seem like the biggest revelation to most, but from someone that will watch any kind of football, who has sat through the dullest of 0-0 draws in Ligue 1 on a Friday evening, it feels like a watershed moment.
It could stem from the years of being beat over the head. Many say England are destined for failure in major tournaments, there’s a reason why they haven’t won one in 50 years, but the past few campaigns have been full of vapid, lackless movement towards something at least slightly positive.
That began with the dire campaign of 2010, where England scraped through a simple group before being soundly beaten by a far superior German side. That then should have been the real eye-opening moment for The FA, to change the way we go about football and how we develop the next team with a real identity.
Instead, we didn’t. We middle to EURO 2012, where Fabio Capello was replaced by Roy Hodgson months before the tournament and we allowed ourselves to accept a poor display with such a significant change happening so close to the start.
Then came the World Cup in 2014, where Hodgson should be showing a team that have the potential to do something in the near future. What we got was a team that could not compete with an aging Italian squad, a solid Uruguay team and the surprise package in Costa Rica.
Surely then, we would open our eyes.
We didn’t. We were lulled into a false sense of confidence via a perfect qualifying campaign and an exciting Premier League season that showed we had a little more talent than we thought. But again, we limped through an average group before being outclassed and out-thought by a brave Iceland team.
A light flickered when Sam Allardyce was appointed, that maybe we could see something different. We did not, we saw exactly the same that we had seen for six years before he tittered off into the night with his big payoff and reputation in tatters.
Enough is enough. The FA has spouted about a plan and an identity for years and now is the time something convincing and achievable is put on the table because at this time, people are not invested anymore.
You can only watch so much of the same thing without any movement for so long. Many might say that there isn’t enough time with the players and that they have to fit in different systems but if other nations can manage to do it, why can’t we?
The case for international football has always been that you should be proud to represent your country. That celebrating where you are from against other nations, along with your fellow man, should be the absolute measure of pride within the game of football.
But the reality is that, it isn’t any more. Most players care about the Champions League or winning silverware with their club, along with rightfully lining their pockets for as long as they can in their short careers, with only those that have achieved everything that feel like this is the last hurdle to overcome.
The prime example is Cristiano Ronaldo in the EURO 2016 final as he gave everything, even on the bench while injured, to get his team over the line. When was the last time you saw that from anyone in an England shirt, begging his team to push on and go that extra yard?
That’s right, you haven’t. We’ve sunken so low that it will take a behemoth to really shift this nation of its perceived perch, kick the solution into gear and get them on the path to at least giving everything again.
Last week, Eidur Gudjohnsen said that Iceland manager Lars Lagerbeck pointed out that England were the “most overrated national team side” and he could not have been more right. The hope will be that the next man up, whether it be Gareth Southgate or anyone, has the balls to tell the players that to their faces.
Only then might I come back into the fold myself.