Yes, England were appalling (despite a 3-0 win and with the honourable exception of Stevie Gerrard ). And yes, McLaren is many nautical miles out of his depth. And yes, even without the Worst International Footballer in the World clogging things up, this was another dismal performance.
But let us not overlook those plucky minnows Andorra. They too put in a sterling display of awfulness that belies their lowly ranking of 161st in the world. Why should England hog all the criticism when Andorra did more than enough to deserve a healthy share of the abuse?
I’m racking my brains, but I don’t think I have ever seen a more degrading performance of fouling, diving, cheating, whingeing, play-acting, time-wasting and negativity by an international football team. And I’m counting Portugal.
My intuition that Andorra are the dirtiest team around is, I find, backed up by hard stats. In the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, they picked up more red and yellow cards than any other nation.
The mind struggles to comprehend the motivation of the Andorran players. If you’re going to be minnows and lose every single one of your qualifying games, as Andorra unfailingly do, why not be brave, admirable minnows? Why not at least attempt to at least have an attempt on goal? You’re not going to get any points, so why not bring some joy into it, instead of making the game, and the world, a slightly nastier place?
The time has come to stop giving these nihilistic football pygmies the chance to kick lumps out of superstars who entertain millions of club fans every week. Let San Marino, Andorra and every other team in the ranking high hundreds play their own little tournament, with the winner getting a chance to play in a WC or EC qualifying group. Unedifying spectacles like last night’s game should become a thing of the past.