The Premier League has undermined the traditions of English football. Why do we keep watching?by DJ Taylor / August 22, 2012 / Leave a comment
The Arsenal team salute fans in Beijing this summer: top clubs are detached from the local communities that once sustained them
In the end defeat, though long awaited, took some time to declare itself. Finally, at 10.24pm on a sultry mid-June night in Kiev, after 120 minutes of creative stalemate and a morale-sapping penalty shoot-out, the fatal moment came. Ashley Cole, England’s tabloid-haunted full back, scuffed the ball slantwise into the gloves of Gianluigi Buffon, the case-hardened Italian goalkeeper, whereupon Alessandro Diamanti, a player previously thought surplus to requirements by the English Premier League, stepped up to put the quarter-final tie out of reach.
As ever on these occasions a fine variety of facial expressions was on display. Roy Hodgson, the England manager, looked even more like one of those sorry Shakespearian jesters, stranded on the blasted heath, fearful of losing his head. The English fans—a quivering wedge of red-and-white sports shirts and ripely perspiring foreheads—hollered and wept. Back on the pitch the players looked peevishly indignant, like a gang of bricklayers ticked off by their foreman for a wall built several inches out of trim. Italy were through, and we weren’t. The Euro 2012 dream was over.
Within seconds the post-match recriminations had begun. Had Wayne shown up? Had Andy Carroll, the big, pony-tailed, Number 9 justified his selection? In fact, the press response was oddly muted. Most English tournament campaigns open in a blaze of rapt, proleptic glory, the Silvo already bought to burnish the trophy, the dim-wit predictions that Glenn, or Sven can do it buzzing through the TV studio ether. This time round, alternatively, a chill wind of realism had been blowing through the England camp and expectations were lowered from the start.
England’s players, a host of commentators rushed up to assure us, simply weren’t as accomplished as their continental rivals. The general opinion was that Our Boys were technically limited, while advertising welcome qualities of doggedness and application, and that Hodgson should be congratulated for taking them as far as he had. And now, gentlemen, it was time for a short vacation, a rest from all this seething but essentially factitious emotion, before the really serious business of the 2012/13 Premier League recommenced.
And a really serious business it definitely is: turning over billions, making Croesuses of its elite performers, silhouetting anyone at large…