Neil Humphreys: Why English football is rubbish
The only surprise at another dismal England defeat is that brainwashed zealots continue to be surprised.
Dazzled by the shiny EPL product, which is a like a manufactured Marvel Universe of make-believe superheroes, Three Lions apologists still believed in a mediocre football nation. But what was there to believe in exactly?
Strip away the corporate sheen that covers every EPL campaign and fifty years of hurt pour out of a deep, infected wound.
English footballers fail.
They are conditioned to fail because they exist in a culture that cannot find a sane middle ground, that happy place between the boom and bust cycle that calmer, rational nations find during major tournaments.
As the popular chant goes, England are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen. And then, they lose to Iceland and they are by far the worst team the world has ever seen.
Neither argument is remotely valid, but each gives an archaic football culture a chance to indulge both its out-dated, imperialistic belief in its own supremacy and its extraordinary talent for weepy martyrdom.
Watch in the coming days as the outpouring of collective grief, anger and blind panic reaches hilariously ludicrous proportions, obviously not as serious as the tragic death of Princess Diana, but on a par with Brexit.
Indeed, Britain's dramatic EU referendum result neatly captured an inherent conceit that has dogged football for decades.
We're bigger and better than Europe. Oh, wait, maybe we're not after all.
The horrifying realisation of a premature exit and its repercussions will dominate post-mortems for weeks to come, in both the political and football arenas.
But England's defeat by Iceland should not be construed as the Biggest Shock in the History of the World (according to the hysterical British media on Tuesday morning), when examined in the context of both nations' respective performances.
Iceland had maximised their resources, played to their limited strengths and harnessed their history-making momentum.
England were four games into a haphazard tournament, still in search of a vaguely recognisible line-up, formation or playing style.
At best, they were the right squad of players with the wrong manager at the helm, bumbling his way to an undignified retirement.
But they were still expected to beat Iceland because they were England, the international powerhouse without a silver pot to its name since 1966.
It was that very dogmatic insistence that the Three Lions remained continent contenders, an inflated opinion artificially pumped up by a domestic league mostly ruled by foreign talent that expected victory.
It was that puerile insistence that English football is perennially one trophy away from coming "home".
Ignoring the entrenched culture of fear and self-loathing at every tournament since 1990, England fans still dare to dream, despite all logical evidence to the contrary.
Even with Roy Hodgson in charge, an international manager who conducts press conferences like the Teletubbies performing a song and dance number, England's blinkered disciples still spoke of European glory with a straight face.
Why confront harsh reality when the national game can wallow in a ridiculous myth of its own making?
England's gullible supporters and administrators and their eagerness to believe the hype not only kept Hodgson in a job he was clearly ill-suited for, it also contributed to the alarming lack of systematic root and branch reform. Rather than nourish youth football's incubators, it was easier and more rewarding in the short-term to feed the EPL cash cow instead.
Germany, Spain and Belgium all embarked on internal revolutions, fixing their national games and leagues from the bottom up after the turn of the century.
England, meanwhile, still hark back to that "legendary" 5-1 victory in Germany from 2001. The Germans have won a World Cup since then and are in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 but, hey, they never beat the Three Lions 5-1, did they?
Hodgson will now be replaced and there'll be talk of internal reviews and radical reforms, but as long as the English Premier League continues to take precedence and a jingoistic nation feeds off past glories, little will change.
England are rubbish because they are rubbish, handicapped with misplaced arrogance and overshadowed by a superior domestic league.
Acknowledging that inconvenient truth would be a good place to start.
But a sparkly EPL season will kick off soon enough and all we be forgotten.