Who will you be cheering for tonight? The England debate

So England are playing Italy tonight. But you already knew that. Question is - who are you supporting?

For our president, it's England. Michael D said during his visit to the UK in April that he would be cheering on England to go all the way in Brazil.

Even Martin McGuinness is, admittedly only because he got them in the Sinn Féin office draw.

Are we ready for this? Is it a step forward for the nation to start supporting our neighbours? Or is the “anyone but England” line just good, clean, formerly oppressed colony fun?

We look at the for and against.

For - Premier League Affiliation

First is the obvious fact that, for the vast majority of soccer fans here, the main competition of the year is the Premier League. Most will declare an allegiance to an English club before a League of Ireland one. Generally the soccer they watch will be either the Premier League or the Champions League.

Why would we cheer on Wilshere, Sterling and Johnson in their club colours, only to recoil in horror as soon as they pull on a white jersey?

Against - Premier League Affiliation

Unfortunately, basic maths tells us that if you support a Premier League team, the chances are there will be more players you loathe than love on the England panel.

It might be just too much to ask Liverpool and Chelsea fans to stop sniggering over Rooney's request for “input” into his club's transfer policy and start worrying instead about his metatarsals.

Can Man Utd and Man City fans really be expected to stop chanting about Gerrard's infamous slip and pass to Ba, and look forward to him leading the England team onto the pitch?



For - The young players

The “Golden Generation” of England players are fading without ever fulfilling their promise, but there are a slew of young players coming through to take their places.

Some of the transfer amounts being bandied about in relation to Luke Shaw are ludicrous for an 18-year-old defender. But he is a gifted young player who has been crucial in the Saints’ success this year. The prospect of him playing into a midfield containing Jack Wilshere and forward to Liverpool duo Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge is surely enticing for even the most fervent Anti-Englander.

And what football fan could resist the possibility of Ross Barkley scoring another beauty like this goal against Newcastle in March?



Against - Mr Cautious

Of course England are currently managed by Roy Hodgson, so none of the above will happen.

Instead, flair will be sacrificed for caution, and aging stalwarts will be relied upon instead of youthful sprites.

It would be nice to think we were in for a scintillating game, but there is a reason why 0-0 is the most likely outcome tonight, according to both Betfair and Paddy Power.

For - Non football reasons

Look at this video. No,really, look at it.

We sent Jedward to Eurovision, twice. Not only did England resist the temptation to point and laugh, in 2011 they gave that performance douze points.

“That wasn't a sporting event”, I hear you cry. But it was an act of neighbourly generosity, and in fairness, not a unique one.

The English generally root for the Irish in competition - maybe it is time for us to be gracious in return?

Against - The English Press

Even if England are knocked out at the group stages, they’ll be in contention until their final group game on June 24.

With every day that passes, the jingoistic fervour in the English media will ratchet up, eventually hitting a level that makes The Wolfe Tones seem like unbiased and impartial commentators.

They haven’t kicked a ball yet and we’ve already had this from The Sun



Either Way - It shouldn't take too long

The standard England world cup joke is that they lose to Germany in the quarter-finals on penalties. Given the teams they’re meeting in the group stage this time, only a wide-eyed optimist will expect them to make it that far.

Uruguay are the reigning South American champions and English defenders are all too aware of the threat of Suarez chomping at the bit. Italy were the beaten finalists in Euro 2012 and England will do very well to get out of the group ahead of one of these two.

Really, there is no chance the English team could actually do well…..Could they?

And if they did, how would you feel about it?

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