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Stone Cold Friday: The Morning After The Night Before

Here’s this week’s sermon from Darius. As Colonel Ross said, “I was counting on you being an insubordinate bastard, Palmer”

It’s the morning after the night before when the England World cup bidding team redefined what humiliation on a global stage is. The Three Lions of the doomed English bid return home more like 3 battered, bruised and dishevelled pussycats.

Venom, negativity and sour graped reactions took over in anarchy as the English media and footballing establishment responded to the perceived denial of a divine right.

The truth is that if they even bothered to ask Harry Pearce and his Section D MI5 Spooks at Thames House, England would have been told that they had no chance. The establishment tried to play FIFA at its game using the laws of the jungle and they lost

Despite that, there was a disturbing sense of misguided self righteousness that ruled the air waves and left a bitter taste in the mouth. It’s one thing lashing out at losing a bid, but it’s another thing altogether suggesting that certain countries in the world should never be allowed to host anything.

What next, are we going to stop mixed race couples from having children? Or fat people from living in the section of town populated by the slim? Or people from a particular country from leaving their own borders – which in fairness already happens in Gaza and the West Bank.

It shouldn’t matter that the world cup went to the middle-east or Qatar, it should matter more that the world cup is no longer a preserve of an elite cabal of countries who assume that only developed countries have a right to bring the tournament home.

England only have themselves to blame for indulging probably the most corrupt and unaccountable entity in the world. An organization that has Presidents and Prime Ministers holding their whatsmijigmifaces as they masturbate their egos; an organisation that has royalty licking their proverbial boots and succumbing to their every whim.

But as England contemplate adding Jack Warner and Sep Blatter alongside Julian Assange to the terrorist watch list, I do fear that yesterday’s decision will plunge English football back to the Stone Age with a regressive siege mentality.

I fear for a thoughtless and ignorant backlash at anything anti-English in football. We already have xenophobic radio stations urging English fans to react negatively to Andrey Arshavin, who truth be told, was doing the same thing Beckham did for his country.

I fear for an ignorant footballing populous, easily influenced and misguided by an incompetent and jingoistic media reacting negatively to the foreign influence within the English game.

I fear that Arsenal is likely to become an even more amplified ‘poster boy’ for everything the establishment hates about world football.

Yet, if ever there was an opportunity for the English footballing establishment to change guard and look forward, this has to be it. The way to respond is by going to Russia and winning the damn world cup. Nothing is going to happen though until there is a root and branch overhaul of the footballing infrastructure.

Nothing is going to be different until attitudes within and outside the game shift and the establishment starts to embrace change. Nothing is going to be different until the media frenzy and hyperbole about what English football is capable of right now is toned down with a dose of humility and respect for difference.

Believe it or not, when we reflect and wonder whether there is really an anti-Arsenal sentiment in the English media and establishment; what we’re seeing around us right now is a resounding ‘Yes!’.

The answer as to why isn’t rocket science. The blunt truth is that Arsenal represents a template of what the establishment is scared of looking at. They know it has to happen, but the success of Arsenal as a direct result of the philosophy and approach of the club will be living proof that the establishment has been an abject failure in its approach.

We can’t blame foreigners for our own short-comings. There were no foreigners in the English game proper for nearly 30 years since 1966. England still didn’t win anything.

What happened yesterday with the English bid was a culmination of a determined exercise to gloss over the massive issues within the English game. We were given a slick and funky presentation coupled with a military style charming offensive of the FIFA executive with the might of the House of Windsor and Downing Street.

The Calvary was rolled into the hotel bar with characters like Boris Johnson, the Match of the Day clowns of Shearer and Lineker, the hardnosed negotiating and lobbying of David Dein and David Beckham and yet no one stopped to think that they were being taken for a ride.

When you get Beckham and his son Brooklyn spending the night at Jack Warner’s home in Trinidad, and Special Branch allowing the insalubrious FIFA Vice-President to freely drape his arm around the future King as if they were drinking buddies; then you have to ask whether England really thought they were going to do this by greasing their way through the door.

All this hides from the fact that English football needs an overhaul; and the establishment needs to desist from lashing out at anything that moves because of their humiliation yesterday. 2 votes and an exit in the first round was a monumental bitch-slap whichever way you look at it.

When thinking of solutions, I always say that the establishment can’t do any worse than looking at London Colney, their adopted training home. I remember the first time Wenger faced a media backlash after the Crystal Palace game where for the first time, Arsenal had no English player in the team.

Wenger stoked the fire even more by his up-front comments about the over inflation of transfer fees for English players who are not that good anyway. The Arsenal manager promised to develop his own cohort of English players as an alternative to what was available, and he was laughed off.

Step in Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Craig Eastmond, Jay Emmanuel Thomas, Henri Lansbury and the rest of the ridiculously talented Arsenal youngsters, most of whom have been playing together since the age of 9. England is hurting; England awaits you.

’til Tomorrow

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