Ahead of Belgium’s opening Euro 2016 fixture match against Italy, a well know Manchester United fan account tweeted the following thing:
@POAEurope: Come on Belgium, offer the world a true reflection of Premier League football. Something England cannot do.
A very simple tweet which was obviously a dig at the England squad, who are all Premier League footballers playing for the better teams at the top end of the table; who seem to fail on the big stage time and time again despite the Premier League being the strongest league in Europe… apparently.
The Belgian side started with seven current Premier League players and one former – and with them being officially ranked as the second best team in the world, the idea was they would put Italy to the sword and show the rest of the world what they can do as a nation, and in effect, give an honest representation of Premier League football.
Belgium were terrible from start to finish. They had zero team cohesion, lacked a spark up top and offered little fight.
It was like watching and English side in Europe in over the past four seasons.
The likes of De Bruyne and Lukaku, who have been frightening defenders for fun over the past nine months, were all but in the pockets of an experienced but not necessarily world class Italian back three.
Ironically, the two Italian goal scorers were both Premier League based players in Southampton’s Pelle and Sunderland’s Giaccherini.
Is the Premier League the biggest farce in football? Why do people insist it is the strongest on the planet?
Where England were unlucky not to beat Russia, Belgium, the Premier Leagues second biggest export were an enormous let down.
Captained by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, who at one stage was compared to Lionel Messi, they had no answer to a hard working Italian unit, and not for the first time failed to live up to expectation.
Of the first eighteen goals scored at Euro 2016, 50% were from players plying their trade in England.
The Premier League is the most represented league in the competition.
So why is it, English club sides struggle in European competition, and as an international side, England never progress beyond a quarter final?
Is there something in the makeup of our beautiful game that prevents England for succeeding?
Even when England fail to win, we attempt to pin our hopes on our B team, who this year is Belgium. So many of their stars play in our country they automatically become our second team, right?
The argument will always go on that things need to change at grassroots level with more emphasis on retaining possession and less on winning and losing – but surely that would hinder and competitive edge a child needs to develop from a young age?
Plus, who wants to wait thirty years for success? What can we do which makes us instant champions?
England will not win Euro 2016, but chances are there will be Premier League representation in the nation that does lift the trophy in July.
Small victories and all that.