Why have fans fallen out of love with England?

EnglandThe England international football team was once one of the most debated topics in pubs up and down the land.

Now though, there is much less chance of hearing England being discussed over club sides.

Is it the 47 years without a World Cup or European Championship title that has caused this? Is it the tedium of playing tiny nations over and over again? Is it simply that the domestic scene is now far more glamorous than it used to be?

Whatever you think, there is no doubt that fans are not as ardent about England as they have previously been.

Take England v Moldova for instance. The Three Lions beat their eastern European counterparts 4-0 at Wembley last week, watched by 61,607.

The other clash between the two sides in this country was at the old Wembley in 1997 when England beat Moldova by the same scoreline. That was watched by 74,102 – an extra 12,495 fans.

A number of things have changed in those 16 years.

For a start, England have squandered four opportunities at a World Cup and three at European Championships.

However, while there have been tournaments where performance levels have been pitiful, such as South Africa in 2010, there have been years when England have been unlucky.

At the 2002 World Cup for example, England lost to Brazil, the eventual tournament winners, by a goal, having run the South Americans very close indeed.

In 2004, England lost in the European Championship quarter-finals on penalties to Portugal, who went on to lose against Greece in the final. Sol Campbell scored in extra-time, but the goal was wrongly disallowed.

It makes you wonder whether the scrutiny the England setup has come under in recent years has been entirely necessary.

Of course the situation should be reviewed, but the vigorous way in which it has been looked at has seemed a tad over the top at times, considering those past efforts.

And perhaps it has been scrutinised to the point where fans have simply become bored about hearing views on the subject.

While having come up short against some of the giants of international football recently, England have been very good at beating minnows.

The international schedule means teams like England spend a large amount of their time hosting part-time footballers and travelling to corners of the planet where the sport is the last thing on the minds of the people who live there.

How then, with games of such low expectations, do fans remain interested? The question has carried more and more weight in years gone by, as the excitement of the Premier League continues to grow and its teams continue to be successful in European competition.

The schedule for clubs throws up exciting fixtures week in, week out, with the opportunity to win major competitions year after year, rather than at two year intervals.

Even if England were to go all the way in a major competition, just how long would the fever that would inevitably follow last?

The Premier League would return within a few weeks and the Champions League just a few more after that.

However much you love England, it seems that the direction in which the game is moving today, towards glamour and finance, does not lend itself to international football.

Whether the England team will ever be debated by fans in the way it used to be is a question which is not an easy one to answer, but, at the moment, the likelihood is it will not.

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