Steve McClaren illustrates the delusion of superiority that contributes to England’s failure

Despite claims that England’s loss to Iceland is “one of the greatest shocks in the history of soccer,” anyone who has watched Iceland over the last couple years or England over the last 50 should have been able to predict the result of their Euro 2016 knockout-stage meeting.

Iceland has a now famously small population and are not a traditional footballing power, but they’ve used both of these facts to their advantage by developing a plan to build the game from the grassroots up and working together to ensure its success. England, meanwhile, have consistently been blinded by being the “home of football” and having a world famous domestic league and they’ve been failing for decades as they refuse to recalibrate their philosophy. Former England manager Steve McClaren’s commentary during the England-Iceland match perfectly exemplifies this. 

With the score even at 1-1, McClaren somehow thought England were dominating and victory for the larger nation would be inevitable. And yet, as he rambled on with this blinkered analysis, Iceland’s Kolbeinn Sigthorsson scored to give his side a lead they would not squander, shutting down McClaren’s optimistic blather live on the air. It was like the viking gods of football had had enough and wanted to prove a point to England yet again. 

Elsewhere, former England player Ian Wright “just can’t stop thinking about Space Jam.” The Michael Jordan/Looney Tunes film. Seriously. This was his analysis of the match on national television. 

The fact that England can still be surprised by results like this and still overlook opponents just because they lack a comparable footballing history is exactly why it’s unsurprising when they continually lose matches like this. And no, Ian Wright, it has nothing to do with the magical powers of fictional animated characters from a 20-year-old film about basketball.

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