Kevin Myers: England has never really produced great teams -- just occasionally great players
NOW that Ireland's Cup of Euro-Humiliation is drained to the Bitter Dregs and the Irish team managed only slightly better results than Luxembourg got against Germany in the 1940 competition, who should Irish couch-fans now support? Should it be England? After all, they are our neighbours, et cetera, et cetera.
Firstly, "neighbours" in football usually means "enemies", as in Spurs and Arsenal, and Manchesters United and City. This is sibling rivalry, going back to Cain and Abel. Curiously enough, it is the perverse reverse of the Eurovision voting patterns. The Belgian Flemish, who would vote for that authentically Dutch song ('Groovy Baby Uptight LA Momma Gonna Be OK'), would rather skewer their eyeballs and roast them over burning coals than see the Dutch soccer team do well.
Moreover, the English have an unfortunate effect on the smaller national identities around them: without the unifying hatred for English soccer and rugby teams, where would Scottish and Welsh nationalism be? It seems to confer a permanent life-support system for island-separatisms that have about as much logic as Quebec independence within North America. So, whereas hating neighbours in sport is fine and human, wanting neighbours to lose just because they're English is just plain silly: except, except, except ...