Lovely column by Richard Williams. Sample:
In the aftermath of a punishing defeat, no man should be called to account for his impromptu remarks. But when Frank Lampard said on Saturday night that England had “deserved” to win the match in which defeat had just eliminated them from the World Cup, he was inadvertently exposing the problem at the heart of the team’s consistent inability to scale the highest peaks.
David Beckham had used the same word earlier in the campaign. England would get to the World Cup final, the captain said, because they “deserved” to be there. Since no deeper analysis was forthcoming, his listeners were left to infer that the evidence in support of his contention might have included any or all of the following: England’s historic role as the game’s mother country; the vast popularity of the Premiership at home and abroad; the inflated pay and celebrity status of its players; and the attention lavished on the public appearances of their wives and girlfriends…
Williams has been consistently accurate and detached about the reality distortion field which surrounded the England team from the outset.