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By Sunil Gavaskar
It’s been quite interesting to see the reception that teams that have been knocked out of the football world cup have been receiving in their countries on their return home. It has ranged from boos and abuses to total ignoring of a previously hero worshipped team.
The media, both print and electronic also have had differing views on the efforts and here too there have been extremes. However the Argentinean fans showed a completely different mindset by welcoming the team with firecrackers and warmth as if they had won the world cup. It may have been due to the fact that their team barely scraped through in to the world cup qualifiers and so any progress beyond the round of 16 was like a win.
The England team is still getting it in the neck but most of the players have flown off to the Caribbean for a break away from the nastiness at home and even that is being commented on. Questions are being asked how some players had a booking in these exotic isles well before the finals. The photographers are following them and pictures of these players relaxing are published daily with some cutting caption like 'shameless player and his wag enjoy the sun while darkness had descended on the fans and supporters' after their defeat in the round of 16.
There was a brief respite for the footballers when Andy Murray looked as if he may be the first British player in the finals of the all England tennis championships after 1938 when Bunny Austin was demolished by Don Budge in straight sets. When he lost to Rafael Nadal the media was a lot kinder and tried to picture a player who now knows how much more hard work and preparation is needed to be a winner in one of the majors. Then of course a British doubles team won the boys title and that was some balm on a country’s wounded psyche. Unfortunately these boys will now be under such intense pressure to continue their winning ways in the senior ranks that they may well give up and become accountants or bankers or some such.
The media hype is so great and even ordinary players are built up as superstars that when they are unable to live up to their early promise the same media turns on them viciously. England longs for a winner but finds that they aren’t coming as quickly as they wish. Perhaps if the buildup isn’t as great and youngsters allowed to develop without the pressures of expectations and get used to these expectations gradually there may well be players who are better prepared for the grind that is needed to become a champion.
What has been amusing to see is how just about everybody is asking for the manager Fabio Capello's head and are astonished that he hasn’t quit his job after England’s disastrous campaign. They are alleging that it is such a well-paid job that it is greed that is making the Italian stick to it and of course there is a sly dig at the Italians in general too about their love for money. All the columnists be it former players or regular writers wrote just before England’s game against Germany that the winner was a foregone conclusion. England according to them had the superior players and Germany had a young inexperienced side and so had no chance. All these writers were relishing the chance to rub Franz Beckenbaur’s nose in the dust for his dismissive comments about the quality of England’s football and their style of play.
England’s defeat shocked them and they turned their guns first at Sepp Blatter for FIFA's refusal to accept goal line technology forgetting that Blatter has only one vote even though he is the president of FIFA.
If goal line technology was in use they argued then England would have been 2-2 when frank Lampard’s goal was not seen by the referee or his line assistants. That Germany went on to win 4-1 does not come in the picture at all. After Blatter apologised to England and Mexico for the errors of the referees the critics turned their attention to Capello because by then the football association had decided to continue with him as England’s manager till his contract ends in 2012.
The football writers of the year, the sports columnists of the year and all those who wrote about England’s win before the Germany game, all want Capello to go because he got it wrong. But hey what about them? What about those who built the hype and got the public all excited and then saw it all crash. What about them? Will they resign as they expect Capello to do?
Well pigs will fly before that happens. Ever.