England's chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were given a boost, following a good 8-0 win over San Marino last night. I remain, however, ashamed of the attitude of some England fans in the run-up to the game yesterday.
In sport, no one likes a sore loser - and no one likes a sore winner either. To be a sore winner before the game's even started is really bad. I found a lot of the comments about San Marino by English football fans to be incredibly arrogant, and also very unpleasant. Saying things like (for example) "we don't even need to play a goalkeeper tonight!" or "my mum could play for England tonight, and we'd still win!" is pretty poor, in my opinion.
I've met some considerable resistance in trying to explain this point-of-view over Twitter, with plenty of England fans not deigning to consider San Marino worthy of the England team's time. Believing others to be beneath you - and then pushing that view in their face - is not a nice way to behave, and certainly doesn't make England as a nation look good.
So, here's my take on things...
First of all - this is football, and anything can happen. Nothing is a foregone conclusion. Not to mention the fact that England tend to have a history of making rather a meal of matches which, on paper, they ought to win comfortably.
But most importantly, even you do think that England will walk it, and could win the game playing only eight players against San Marino's eleven (or something like that) you don't have to shout about it. How about staying classy, for once, and respecting the opponents? That kind of cocky strutting by fans before the game is exactly the kind of arrogance which makes England (and English supports) look bad to other footballing nations. There's simply no need for it.
The argument that "it's not arrogance if it's true" doesn't really hold water either. You could go to an ATM, withdraw £100 in cash, and then wave it in the face of the nearest homeless person, singing "I've got money and you haven't, ha ha ha ha ha!" - that would be true, but it would also make you come across as vulgar and gauche and generally quite an unpleasant person.
The fact that England did win 8-0 I can ascribe only to the fact that within the team the players and coaches were professional enough not to think they could beat San Marino even if they were on Space Hoppers, and still respected the game enough to play properly and do the basics right.
I'm proud of our team, of course, and I'm very glad we won. But English football fans who persist in such cockiness running up to a game do neither themselves, nor the team, any favours at all.