I think it was that tortuous parody of an adult male Andy Parsons who said the English only like two things: moaning and queuing. Well now we can add a third element to that holy trinity, namely ‘the established narrative.’
Following the resignation of England manager Fabio Capello (as an aside, how many other countries refer to the head coach of their national side with the problematic epithet of ‘manager’?), and once the Clive Anderson-esque committee-written hilarity of “Italian leaving a sinking ship” one-liners had been all but exhausted, England players both current (Wayne Rooney) and irrelevant (Michael Owen) took to Twitter to assert that Capello’s replacement has to be English.
Owen actually took things a step or two further, extending the ‘must be English’ qualifier to everyone ‘ from players to tea lady’. The latter reference is seemingly either a biting piece of satire on his regular spot away from the pitch or a disgusting euphemism I don’t even want to begin contemplating, while the former suggests he has got us confused with Equatorial Guinea.
Which brings me back, far from neatly, to the original point.
Capello was doomed from the start, simply by virtue of not being English. It’s a Nick Griffin-flavoured variant of the “you’ve never played the game” rhetoric, albeit with even less of an element of control, and ironically levelled by others to whom the description applies. The only semblance of respite is the six-month (give or take) ‘learning the language and culture’ grace period which gets cut short as soon as the wins stop flowing.
The Facebook community ‘Hope not Hate’ – a kind of virtual high horse, if you will – prompted irony to spontaneously combust this week when it bid good riddance to “supporter of the Italian far right” Capello (their words) and welcomed in Harry Redknapp as his heir apparent.
This came mere hours after Redknapp’s acquittal from tax evasion charges, implying that ‘legally safe’ is a reasonable qualification for a post when ‘morally sound’ was never even on the radar.
The Tottenham manager is, of course, someone who – upon Ivorian striker Samassi Abou returning to Redknapp-managed West Ham with food poisoning after a trip home – said “He must have eaten a dodgy missionary or something.”
It’s this “he’s a cunt, but he’s our cunt” ideology which gets Jeremy Clarkson an audience of millions and Simon Cowell an actual fucking podium, not to mention the baying masses queuing to get into the warm and have their emotions directed by TV station employees holding up pieces of card. Oh yes, we love queuing.
The only way an England ‘manager’ can survive the press, the fans, and John Terry (not to mention those spiteful foreign tea ladies) is to have already fucked up, been judged, and have no further to fall. Oh yes, and to be English.
Come on down Harry, the floor is yours.
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