What a fickle bunch the press - and we the public - are! When Signor Capello was appointed, he was hailed as the great manager, who came and instilled the much-needed discipline into the England squad, and achieved a 100% record in the qualifying rounds so that we were given a seeded place in the finals. Here was a man who had moulded these individual millionaire egos into a TEAM. 'Ingerlund, Ingerlund, Ingerlu-und!' We were heading for Brazil in the Final! Then after a long premiership season here, reality hit with the first lacklustre match against the USA and then the even less lustrous one v Algeria. Doubt began to infect expectation. Were we about to suffer the same fate as France and later Italy? Surely not. It was hanging in the balance until little Jermaine Defoe popped up and headed that single crucial goal against Slovenia. Not exactly glorious, but it would do.... I suspect the euphoria should have been a warning.
'Ingerlund, Ingerlund, Ingerlu-und!' To be fair, I thought England responded well to Germany's 2-0 lead. I guess most of us were thinking, 'Here we go again...'. But to give them their due, the English team came out fighting and it should have been 2-2. However, clearly, the ref didn't see Lampard's rocket cross the line before spinning out in a split second. 'Unbelievable!' the commentators fulminate! The fans boo the officials off at half-time. It's so unfair! Sadly even our PM joins in. But if the ref didn't see it he couldn't award it. C'est la vie. Che sera sera. That's life. Life IS unfair. But that doesn't mean you give up fighting for justice. What was disappointing was to see how the stuffing seemed to have been knocked out of us. I don't give anything for this 'they had no pride in the country' nonsense. It was more like, 'Perhaps it's just not our day after all.' We tried hard and played well, but the Germans played better, to be honest. And so we're out. And all the armchair pundits and would-be managers have their scalpels out. They're gunning for Fabio - of course -. If he goes, it will be at a cost. He's no fool!
Then in the middle of Radio 5's phone-in on the subject breaks the news that another bomb-disposal soldier has been killed in Afghanistan, and suddenly the perspective changes.... Football is not more important than life and death. Actually, it's entertainment - and, what's more, it's escapist entertainment. There are people out there who are laying down their lives for what they believe in.
I've just watched disabled artist, Katharine Araniello's latest work, Follow Me On My Journey To Die, a short film she made last year, about disabled artist, Gemma's quest for publicity and fame by seeking permission from the High Court to commit suicide and the dire effect it has on others. Should you get the opportunity, do try and see it. That is serious, though not humourless, stuff. Sorry to say so, but it's even more important than football.