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Do We Want England To Qualify?

Rooney EnglandSo England’s Euro 2008 hopes could be smashed to smithereens in a few hours, if Russia manage to get a win over Israel this evening. After throwing away a 1-0 lead against Russia, courtesy of a splendid Rooney goal, England’s qualification hopes took a turn for the worst. The draw away to Israel and at home to Macedonia, as well as the loss to Croatia, have now appeared too costly for England, and their chances hang in the balance. For all their huffing and puffing, for all the talk of the “injustice” in last year’s World Cup against Portugal (“that bloody winker, if it wasn’t for him, Jules Rimet would have been ours!”), for all the players’ public support of McClaren, for all the fans booing the player they voted their Player of the Season for the second year running in 2005, England just don’t seem to have what it takes.

Now I know there are still plenty of United fans who follow England, cheer when Stevie “transfer request” Gerrard bags a goal, genuinely believe this penalty shoot out will be different from the others, stick the tacky England flags to their car, get involved time and again in the Lampard vs Gerrard debate, there is something which should set alarms bells ringing when it comes to England. If their fans burning effigies of our Beckham didn’t get to you, if the old Wembley crowd singing “If you hate Man United clap your hands” as England played on the pitch below didn’t get your blood boiling, or constant and repetitive under appreciation of United players wearing England’s shirt (“Neville is crap”, “Rooney is a thug/Shrek”, “Ferdinand is a druggie”, “Scholes was never as good as Lampard” etc.) doesn’t piss you off, then I don’t really know what England has to do to make you think twice about your whole hearted allegiance to the National Team.

Despite being begged several times to come back to represent his country, Scholes hasn’t gone back on his desire to retire from International football. Sven had the bright idea of playing Scholes on the left, leaving Gerrard and Lampard in their preferred positions, and in the end, this got all too much for Scholes, one of the most talented midfielders England has ever seen. “I decided to call it a day with England because it just wasn’t any fun any more,” said Scholes. “I don’t know why it became like that. I’d just stopped enjoying it. I like being at home as well there was an awful lot of time away from home and my family and for me there’s nowhere better than Manchester.”

I strongly believe United > England, but does this make me happy about the cloud of doom presently over England? No it doesn’t, for several reasons.

Firstly, we have several England internationals in our team, who all love playing for their country. Rooney boasts an “English and Proud” tattoo on his arm and works as tirelessly for his country as he does for his club. Ferdinand, Hargreaves, Rooney, Carrick, Brown, (Neville? Simpson?), would all be looking for call ups if England were to play in the tournament next summer, and it would be massively disappointing for them if they were to miss out on it, whilst their United team mates made the trip.

Secondly, I do enjoy watching England play when our lads are in the team. Whilst it’s enjoyable to watch Portugal and cheer on Ronnie, particularly if there are rival domestic fans around, there is something bred in to me that makes me want England to do well. I remember distinctly watching England go out in Euro 96 and being gutted. Growing up, I didn’t have the cynicism I have now, I suppose, and I haven’t rid myself of all my feelings of fondness towards England, yet. In more recent qualifiers, England started to play pretty decent football, and I enjoyed watching it. I must enjoy slagging off the likes of Lampard and Gerrard too, and both present me with plenty of opportunities to do so every match. I also enjoy the feeling of knowing that when one of ours scores, there are fans all over the country celebrating. Fancy that, a West Ham fan celebrating when a United player scores? Rooney smashed that goal in against Russia, and you know there were dippers, geordies, and cockneys alike, chanting “Rooney, Rooney” at the TV screen.

However, there would be upsides for United if England didn’t qualify. The lads who miss out will be gutted, of course, but they will have a restful summer, and should start the season for us fighting. They will have more of a point to prove, after facing endless ribbing from Ronaldo, Evra and the others over England’s failure. Also, inevitably, England would fuck up somehow, and as if by magic, the blame would land in the hands of United players. It wasn’t the fact England had played like shit throughout the last World Cup which was to blame for their exit, rather Ronaldo being one of five Portuguese players complaining to the ref. It wasn’t the fact three out of the four penalty takers missed which was to blame, rather Wayne Rooney for getting sent off in a game England didn’t even lose anyway. What story would Euro 2008 bring? How could United be blamed for England’s failure this time?

But essentially, yes, I do want England to go through, even though I can see their chances are extremely bleak presently. No matter how much I may gloat if England don’t make it, come next summer, I’ll wish this country was represented in the Euro’s, and I’ll wish our lads were in Austria playing football for their country, something they love to do. Whether I’ll get my wish or not, however, is a different matter, and the answer will be revealed within the next few hours.

What do you think? Do you want England to go through?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Zenon says:

    Very good atricle!

  2. Red Andy says:

    I cannot believe some of the points that you are putting forward. I love United- but our fans can really annoy me. If you are english, you should support england with your all. Rooney “sums up” united and he loves england and united equally. The day that i start taking notice of what our socially challenged friends from merseyside think abot our players is the day that i will stop watching football.

    United till i die and England till i die.

  3. lestweforget58 says:

    and we all agree…….united are better than england!!!!! come on croatia!!!!!!

  4. Jim says:

    If you are English then you must support England, Rooney has got it right. This whole United V England thing makes me fucking sick. Who the hell do the United only crowd think you are??? I proudly support both, and if United players get injured on international duty, we, that is life, so grow up ya self centred bastards

  5. Patricia says:

    We need to support both. I’m not English (I’m Canadian), and I am a huge England supporter. I would be thrilled to see England do well next summer, and thrilled as well to see our Man United lads contribute to that success.

  6. Edward De Cruz says:

    Makes sense in many ways. I am not English but am a product of British education. I am for England ALWAYS and have ALWAYS loved Manchester United and England. It is time people learn that England ought to supercede Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United or any other team England’s players come from. When they play for England fans ought to support them, not shout out vulgarities at individuals because of misguided affiliations: save the obscenities and vulgarities for your club matches please and do not even for a second think that you are doing England a favour with your presence at England’s matches. England will still be there without YOU. Stay away if you cannot be truly patriotic!

  7. NorwegianDevil says:

    Strange this, but all who support England here seems to be from other parts of the world.

    I myself is a huge England fan, and I’m Norwegian.

    Well maybe it’s because Norway is crap and wont qualify anyway or maybe it’s because I grew up watching England and English football?

    To me a EC without England would be extremely boring. Thankfully Russia managed to bottle it this weekend, so theres a good chance that I and many others here will get our wish fulfilled.

  8. OMelhorDoMundo says:

    England need a courageous manager who doesn’t let players’ reputations make team selection. You see, England doesn’t have a particular style to base their team on. If they want speed, then say Bent might be favored over Crouch. Wright-Phillips over Beckham and Lennon over Joe Cole. If they want a solid midfield and three free attackers, then okay perhaps Lampard might go in but not Beckham.
    McClaren is terrified when making decisions and lets crap like Robinson walk into the team! As much as I love the country I grew up in, I’d rather feel the disappointment now then during the quarterfinals.
    The stupid FA should appoint a Scolari-Hiddink-Dunga-van Basten style manager who doesn’t take shit from his players and press and does his own stuff.
    So if elimination means a better manager for the World Cup, then please, McClaren, choose Lampard.


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