World Cup 2010: England Boos Typical Of Underperforming, Overexpectant Nation

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World Cup 2010: England Boos Typical Of Underperforming, Overexpectant Nation
Lars Baron/Getty Images

The events of last night's England-Algeria game can be summed up in a cocktail of negative adjectives according to the British press this morning, including shameful, spineless, pathetic, and hopeless.

And while some may feel these words are spot on after what was a desperate and ineffective performance on the field, surely such applies just as pertinently to the behaviour of the travelling England supporters off it.

As England walked off the pitch having drawn a match they were largely expected to win by virtue of just showing up, a deafening chorus of boos rung loud from the England fans even above the now infamous vuvuzelas.

Then an infuriated and frustrated Wayne Rooney turned to the television camera following beside which was to beam a blunt message as the whole world watched on.

"Nice to see your home fans boo ya, that's what loyal support is."

It was one of those unusual moments that needed a minute to sink in to gage in what manner to react. A petulant and childish outburst from a misfiring player touted as the talisman off the back of his most successful season in professional football, or an understandable reaction to insensitive England supporters?

Pundits on the evening shows wasted no time taking sides and the channel broadcasting the game live on English television made up partly of Kevin Keegan and Gareth Southgate swiftly defended the man they have helped build as the key to any potential success in South Africa this year. "You can understand the frustration," was how the ex-England defender Southgate chose to put it.

But whilst Rooney's outburst may be an understandable one in some eyes, what of the reaction of the fans?

England are a team undefeated in their entire World Cup campaign dating as far back as the qualification stage. Tournament favourites Spain and Germany have lost a group game each already and have still not been on the receiving end of boos from their own supporters.

So why is this culture so openly accepted in this country to the point where supporters feel they are automatically granted permission to jeer their own international team in front of the watching world, and are entitled to the liberty simply because they have paid for the tickets?

It was an abysmal and shameful display of behaviour but so was the performance. But to be the only nation to have fans heckle their own team is embarrassing and only characteristic of the pressure and weight of expectation fans are happy to pretend is a burden created solely by the media.

Understandably the travelling faithful are livid having witnessed what some describe as the most woeful England performance in years. The consensus amongst fans having spent their well-earned money travelling thousand of miles was that the action as simply garbage. One went as far as labelling the match on par to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy whose most recent winners include Southampton and Luton Town.

"How is it these players are payed in excess of £50,000 a week and can't string a few passes together?" one dismayed fan asked after the game. Such was the disaccord amongst the England fans that one breached security, making his way into the dressing room to vent his frustrations.

But as awful as the game may have been, their duty is to lift the team, to bring those players through adversity and disappointment as the representatives of every person back home willing for an England victory.

English supporters know better than anyone what the likes of Gerrard, Rooney, and Lampard are capable of, seeing them on a weekly basis. But their club form was almost completely absent in the white of an England shirt as bad touches and wayward passes from the top players in our domestic league made them completely unrecognisable on the world stage. And with the world watching, many made their judgments.

Perhaps it was summed up best by a blogger from Argentina. "In their eyes they are favourites but in reality they are on par with the likes of Serbia, Switzerland, and South Africa." And from evidence so far, who could argue? From the inside there is always an optimism placed on the team before big tournaments but it is that very same pressure that seems to be currently preventing our best players from delivering their best.

But from the outside looking in, it's slowly beginning to appear that England have had the wool over their eyes and have never been considered as serious competition by their evidently more superior opponents. Either way, travelling supporters representing our country and our fans should be the last people turning on their own team in that unfashionable manner.

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