Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Algeria: More 'Heart' Than England?

A kid from Algeria who plays for Scottish club Rangers has gone on record suggesting that his team can defeat England when they meet in group play at the 2010 World Cup.

And, really, what do you expect the guy to say? "We stink. We have no chance against the mighty Three Lions. We just hope we don't get hurt or so embarrassed that we can't go home to Algiers."

Here is a link to the story, which really is fairly mild.

Here is the money quote from Madjid Bougherra:

"England may be better than us in physical and tactical terms with Fabio Capella as their coach, but we are stronger skills-wise. We also have a quality they don't have -- we play with heart. So on a good day, we can really beat them. And even if we can't manage to do that, we won't be embarrassed, believe me."

What is interesting about this?

It got big play in England ... and in all forums where English fans lurk (that is to say, every English-language soccer site on the planet) ... and the point of the great display it got ... was to cheese off English fans. Which isn't hard to do.

The popular (if not universal) narrative, among England fans, at the moment, is that their lads not only will advance out of their group, they will hardly break a sweat before the quarterfinals.

Just remember that English soccer is profoundly bipolar.

Either their fans and their journalists love their team to death and expect Great Things from it -- generally during the run up to any World Cup ...

Or they hate their team, and despair ever of winning that second World Cup ... and wonder how it all went so horribly wrong these past, oh, 43 years.

Short term, that means that the three minnows (to use a Brit soccer cliche) that find themselves in Group C along with the mighty English can count on every single vaguely interesting value judgment of English soccer to get enormous attention in English media.

Not only do we have this example, of an Algerian guy saying, basically, "Yeah, we'll show up, and we think we can win." (Imagine. The audacity.) A week before we had the Slovenia coach saying much the same thing. And he was hooted down, too.

Anyway, please take note, you Algerians, Slovenians and United States-ians. For the next six months, anything anything you say about England's side that can be interpreted as even possibly negative is going to get you massive attention in England. And its fans, who are in a giddy phase, will assault and mock you over it.

Just be aware. That's how it works. And when England crashes, whether it's in the Round of 16 or the quarterfinals ... you can just chuckle and remember when English fans had plotted a course right into the championship match.
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