24 August, 2007

The New Wembley Chronicles

It’s not often that I agree with anything Gary Lineker says, but two days ago in The Sun something he had written actually made me chin-stroke and nod along sagely in agreement, drawing some pretty strange looks from people around me on the tube.

He said we need to turn this New Wembley into a fortress, and make visiting teams fear comingover here to play us again: “We rarely lost there in my time — and this new stadium does have to start feeling like home for England, otherwise we won’t qualify for the European Championships.” And he’s dead right. We may need to win all of our remaining games to dig ourselves out of a hole to actually qualify, and this will only happen if home games are as close to guaranteed victories as possible.

I couldn’t really care less about international friendlies, so only saw a few of the highlights two nights ago, but the general consensus from guys that went to the game I spoke to was, “same old England.” A lot of promise but no final product. 90,000 fans under-whelmed by the team yet again and even out-sung by the pockets of traveling German supporters.

Yes, it was a friendly and no, we didn’t have our full strength team and we were unlucky and blah blah blah. Irregardless of the final score, Lineker’s point still holds. Any opposing team that steps out into our national stadium should be greeted by a huge wall of noise, towering above them in the incredible surroundings. Not only that, but if anything is going to inspire our team to actually perform anywhere near as well as we’re constantly told they can, then surely it’s that kind of epic crowd noise and support. Remind them they’re playing for their country and what it means to everyone else in that stadium. And no, that doesn’t mean whistling and booing during the German national anthem for fuck’s sake.