You have to mix the elements in football and practice a form of chemistry. But once the team breaks up into greedy little atoms, things fall apart, and all that remains is the gas being spoken about by the pundits in the studio condemning the foul smell. England reeks.
The English nucleus is unstable with eleven overpriced players repelling each other with a mad Italian coach yells at his mix, which is a dud; England has no charge. And it's a reflection of the individual fetish that radiates across the Queen's realm. There is no community, no society in the team. Finally, English football has caught up with the Thatcherite ideal of "me over them." And the result is a flaccid squad. English footballers may be able to get the best seats in the restaurant, crack open the Dom and sport lipstick on their cheeks but as for mucking in for the cause, not much sign of that. Even Wazza Rooney, who one could say embodies an older mentality of fraternity, looks as if he would rather play FIFA 2010 and score 100 goals with his thumbs than shoot straight for the three lions on a real field.
By contrast, look at the solidity in South America right now. All those teams are looking forward to being part of the remaining sixteen elements next week. They don't act like stars too much. Stars fade and for England, unless the primordial chemistry of football ignites tomorrow, English soccer faces the black hole.
Alan Black is the co-author of the send up guide to the Finals -The Glorious World Cup, out now.