Sunday, July 02, 2006
Obviously, the unanswerable questions of motivational guru Watt (What?) Nicoll (see below) played a large part in England's dismal World Cup display - not least in the sending off of Wayne Rooney, a man whose limited intellect had been utterly macerated by Nicoll's question "Do you want to be a winner, a champion, a hero or a legend?" But another possibility has been nagging at me these last few days. Do we need middle class footballers? Talking to Michael Collins - author of the wonderful The Likes of Us, web site here - we found ourselves wondering if the real genius of Alf Ramsey was his constructed aura of being pure-bred, imperturbable English middle class, the sort of man for whom it would be only right to live and die. But perhaps the problem goes deeper. Plainly the present England squad is overwhelmingly under- or working class. This means we are ignoring as much as half of our population pool. Even if the proletariat is twice as good at football as any other social group, we would still be declining to use, say, 25 per cent of our best players. Furthermore, these players would tend to be more articulate when confronted with the likes of Nicoll, less liable to brawling and infinitely more consoling in post-match interviews. As a natural officer class, they would also have been able to explain to Sven, perhaps in faltering, schoolboy Swedish, the palpable idiocy of his tactics. It is time the middle class sorted out this shower, brought some tone to what so far has been little more than a vulgar brawl.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 5:52 am