Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: Three Lions fail to roar

By Niall Crozier

It hasn't been a great week for English sport, with telling defeats in football, rugby and cricket – three codes which England gave to the world.

Roy Hodgson's flops were back home on Wednesday – before the nations in Groups E, F, G and H of the 2014 Fifa World Cup had completed their pool-stage schedules.

Stuart Lancaster's rugby boys have been nursing the physical and emotional scars of a 3-0 series whitewash by the All Blacks, who are just beginning to ease through the gears at this time of year.

And Alastair Cook, the England cricket captain, has spent the past couple of days straight-batting questions about his future in that role following the horrendous display against Sri Lanka at Headingley, culminating in an unprecedented series defeat.

Nor will Wimbledon do anything to ease the pain; Andy Murray, the only Briton capable of competing as an equal alongside the world's best, is Scottish, not English.

I remember a newspaper cartoon on the morning of Aberdeen FC's European Cup Winners' Cup final victory over Real Madrid on May 11, 1983. It depicted then-manager Alex Ferguson telling his players: "Remember, boys, we go home as British heroes or Scottish failures."

Throughout successive generations, the English have managed to alienate others who view them as exuding arrogance borne of a sense of superiority. In my experience, that is not true of your average Englishman or woman – or the players who represent the country in whatever sporting code. They cannot be blamed for the excesses of their media.

England gave us our favourite sports. Ironically, those they taught are now their masters.

Belfast Telegraph

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