You be as defensive as you want, Steven Gerrard. If Harry Redknapp has finally voiced the unsayable, then maybe the England team can genuinely progress, instead of just talking about it.
Whatever ails my country’s national side, these last two World Cups have finally destroyed the ‘burden of expectation’ argument. There wasn’t any, neither this time nor in South Africa, yet an England team finally liberated from the ghosts of 1966 never showed.
Too many foreigners in the English Premiership? That might point to a lack of depth in talent but those who have ultimately failed in Brazil are front-line Premiership players, thriving in a multinational domestic league.
No, all that remains is the fact that such men are incapable of translating club form into international form. No-one who cannot offer compelling solutions to that conundrum should ever manage this team, no matter whom he has managed thus far, nor what he’s won. We are beyond tactics with this malady, we are in the realm of psyche.
Why there should be such a disconnection between club and country is a topic many of us might have danced around delicately, not wanting to think the unthinkable, not wanting to fall into line with the ‘overpaid prima donnas’ theory because it felt too obvious, too knee-jerk.
Well now Harry has said it for us. Some professional footballers just don’t want to play for their country, as staggering as that might seem to you and me. For all Gerrard’s indignation, I don’t believe the former Spurs manager has to name names to make this argument stick: we just have to ask ourselves why he would put his head on the block like this unless he was speaking the truth. Redknapp needs neither the money, the exposure nor the hassle of stirring up a hornets’ nest that others refuse to prod.
I doubt it will happen but I do think that it’s time the FA at least delved into this possibility, with a no-names, no-pack drill survey of all English Premier League players, that asks them to express their honest views, under the protection of anonymity, as to precisely where donning an England shirt fits on their bucket list.
That it has come to this is not pleasant (has England’s post-imperial ennui infiltrated even the competitive hotbed of professional sport now?) but Harry Redknapp has shown that the elephant in the room may not be as imaginary as we’d hoped. Until we stop dancing around it, everything else is just window dressing.