Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
As for those sour-faced leftists ‘celebrating’ England’s defeat – you have the blessed audacity to claim the mantle of understanding working-class politics? Just try explaining your revolutionary defeatism in public and see what that does for your politics. It sickens me at times like this that a group as marginal as the left pretends it knows what’s best for the rest of us, surrendering its credibility as it once again dumps on the progressive, inclusive potential of our national identity. For the Croatia game I was at Wembley with Hajra and Nadeen, England fans wearing the hijab – that’s the England I’m proud to be a part of and parts of the left will never engage with thanks to their inability to understand why.
The web, phone-ins and back pages have been buzzing with ideas on what is to be done after England’s defeat. Here’s my six points for those Red Pepper readers who share my view that what happens to the England football team actually matters.
1. Spiral of decline
If you thought missing out on Euro 2008 was bad: just wait until the 2010 World Cup. Second seeds in a group with Croatia again. Top team goes through, and only the best eight runners-up get a play off. The 2010 qualifiers are looking tough, very tough: a quickening spiral of decline beckons.
2. The table doesn’t lie
Without Sven, and allowing for the likelihood of injuries, qualifying for Euro 2008 was never going to be easy. The fact is we’re now light years behind the likes of Germany, France and Italy, and just a middle-ranking European football nation at the Croatia-Russia-Israel kind of level. If we’d qualified does anybody seriously think we’d have got out of our group in the finals?
3. Over-rated players
With very few exceptions our so-called world-beaters only look good when they play for their clubs playing alongside world-class team mates, none of whom are English unfortunately.
4. National team as the pinnacle of the national game?
Not any more it isn’t. Within a few years the England team will all be players from the bottom half of the Premiership, and within five from the Championship. Either the FA follows the Sir Trevor Brooking strategy of huge investment (far, far more important than the 2018 World Cup bid) in 5-11 year olds or the cycle of decline will become unstoppable.
5. No return to the home internationals
Okay, they’d be fun, but what exactly would an England team (or, for that matter, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) learn playing other teams too poor to qualify? It would be a huge step backwards conducted for one reason: money. The same reason our hallowed Wembley turf was turned into a quagmire for the Croatia game as a result of the stadium hosting that American Football match.
Yet there was Gordon Brown, the morning after the night of non-qualification, wading in to support the return of the home Internationals as a way of developing his British vision. Does this man ever step out of No 10 and into his constituency? Nothing represents the fact that England, Scotland and Wales are separate nations more effectively than a football match. It would almost be worth their return to see Gordon at Hampden Park for Scotland v England waving his cherished union jack, and to witness the response he gets.
6. Sacking McLaren
The easy bit. But the guy who appoints the new manager is the one who forced Sven out, failed to recruit Scolari and chose McLaren instead.
The future? The only hope is that Trevor Brooking is given a free rein, resulting in a huge investment in 5-11 year-olds, so that by 2017 the Premiership academies are stuffed full of English 17-year-olds, or that Mourinho decides his ego could do with rescuing England and a few of the under-21s come good. But I wouldn’t bet your house on it!
Mark Perryman is the convenor of London England Fans, author of Ingerland: Travels with a Football Nation, and co-founder of www.philosophyfootball.com
Corbyn just won a prize for peace activism - so why is the Labour Party still committed to renewing trident? Lily Sheehan investigates.
Connor Devine writes that whilst Brexit might be a car crash, we can't just side with an institution responsible for enforcing austerity.
Michael Coates reviews a new film revealing the shocking state of housing inequality in the UK.
The vicious media campaign against trans people is part bigotry, part strategy, writes Roz Kaveney
Jon Trickett MP reports on 'Dickensian' levels of poverty and hardship felt across the UK.
Natasha King busts some myths around the No Borders debate
He was once a radical icon, but now he's a mouthpiece for racism and nationalism. Time to get off stage, writes Michael Calderbank
Consensus seems to have shifted, but austerity is far from over. The chancellor has committed us to yet more years of misery while the rich get richer, writes Richard Seymour.
Frustrated at the idea of another royal wedding? You're not alone. Joana Ramiro argues we should stop idealising a fundamentally undemocratic institution.
Liberal elites are using Russian interference to minimise their own political failures, writes Matt Turner
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny