Why Do Some Fans Want England To Fail?

English football fans can be an odd bunch sometimes: so passionate and vociferous about their own clubs sides and, in a lot of cases, so indifferent about their national side.

Why? It wasn’t always this way; at least not that I can recall. Back in the early, mid and even late nineties, England fans were fearsome in their support of the senior team but over the last decade or so, a river of apathy now runs deep.

It’s not even the paltry number of attendees or viewers for a friendly versus Norway last week that concern. Scouring Twitter last night for reaction to England’s impressive opening qualifying win in Switzerland, I came across a fairly established football blogger who had tweeted this:

It wasn’t the first I’d seen and it definitely won’t be the last but it makes you wonder how this attitude has developed within some football fans.

Unrealistic expectations seem to be at the core of it. There is an idea that England have significantly under performed, leading to exasperation among fans but there is little evidence to suggest that. As a footballing nation, England has only ever won one major tournament – all of 48 years ago – and reached one final since then. Compare that to Germany, who have seven titles and reached thirteen finals and you can clearly see the huge gulf in competitiveness.

The rise of the Premier League as a major force in global club football has cowed fans into believing this should somehow translate to the national side but that’s merely a sign of how much the wool has been pulled over their eyes.

In 2013, a study carried out showed that only 32% of Premier League players were English – lower than any major European league. Compare that to Spain at 59% and Germany at 50% and you get a sense of just how misleading the power of the Premier League actually is in terms of its domestic output.

The English media huff and puff about the how ‘the Premier League is the best league in the world’ and there is obvious merit to that assertion but it’s clear that, for all intents and purposes, its spiralling growth is continually harming the future prospects of its national side and provided England fans with an illusory image of just how good their national side is or should be.

Club allegiances also play a significant part in this irrational antipathy. For years, the core of the England side was made up of certain Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal players – all of whom have had to deal with large quantities of criticism from sets of fans from other clubs for various reasons.

Instead of being vigorously supported, players like John Terry, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere were/are openly derided. In some cases, maybe it’s deserved but again, compare Spanish or German fans support of their own divisive players – Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos were both lauded by both Barca and Real Madrid fans alike on their return from the 2010 World Cup – and it’s like night and day.

In a recent blog for the Metro, a Liverpool fan actually accused Roy Hodgson of being reckless with his club’s players and blamed him for continually getting them injured.

Another tweet from a Liverpool fan last night seemed to back up his point:

Hodgson’s job is to win games for England and that generally means picking his best side. Players get injured. It can happen at any time, anywhere. Marco Reus has been badly injured on his last two appearances for Germany but you won’t hear Borussia Dortmund fans claiming Joachim Löw is the devil incarnate.

Never has the phrase ‘Club before Country’ seemed so appropriate. There are many issues with the national side but a dispassionate supporter base is the last thing it needs and as a country with such romantic notions regarding its place on the football pyramid, it’s unbecoming of some fans to become so emotionally detached.