THere was a long and fascinating read in The Guardian a month ago entitled “The Universe of a Clock: Is Free Will an Illusion?”, In which Oliver Burkeman explored the age-old question of whether any of us have any control over what what do we do. We are encouraged to consider a fruit bowl that contains an apple and a banana. You are hungry, you choose the banana. You could have chosen the apple. But you did not. You are now eating a banana. Free will. A decision made. For you and only for you. You have successfully consumed a banana.
“So in the example of the fruit bowl,” Burkeman explains, “there are physiological reasons why you feel hungry in the first place, and there are causes, in your genes, your upbringing, or your current environment, for you to choose to address your hunger with fruit, in instead of a box of donuts. And his preference for the banana over the apple, at the time of the supposed choice, must have been caused by what happened before, presumably including the pattern of neurons firing in his brain, which in itself was caused, and so on in an unbroken chain, to your birth, the meeting of your parents, their births and, eventually, the birth of the cosmos. “
Now let’s replace the apple and banana with 33 players from England and make Gareth Southgate the subject of the exercise. Since he’s just living his pre-ordained life that was set in motion by the Big Bang, it makes it harder to be furious that Gareth left James Ward-Prowse in a fruit bowl so he can’t come over and have a drink. stoppage time corner as England trailed 2-1 to Germany in the round of 16.
Radio phone input gets a bit more complicated to navigate, of course. “Well I can’t blame Southgate for playing Lingard on Wednesday night because it was pre-ordered, and while we’re at it, calling you in the first place wasn’t something I decided to do, my whole life just took me up to this point.” “Thanks Dave, Mike is a Norwich fan and thinks Max Aarons should have done it. Hi Mike.”
Of course, there are philosophers who believe in free will and others who suggest that it is at least important to find a way to believe in order to prevent society from collapsing into nihilistic chaos. In a world where we have decision-making power, it’s hard to explain to those who are deliberately infuriated by Southgate’s smooth elimination from 33-26. Ward-Prowse is good at set pieces. But you can’t just bring it in for free kicks, it’s not a Subbuteo corner kicker. Ward-Prowse is a good footballer, but so are those who passed him. Players who lose are good. The players on the squad are good.
“We, of course, are a bit myopic,” Southgate said after the team was released, referring to Kieran Trippier going unnoticed because he plays in Spain. A bit? Trippier just won the League, playing every minute he was available, benefiting from Diego Simeone’s individual training. He completed admirably as a left back on Wednesday. However, he does not figure in the starting XI of many experts because he does not participate very often in the Match of the day.
If something in football is predetermined, it is the myopia of the fans. England have good young players, but they are joint favorites for a tournament where France has an attacking line of Mbappé, Griezmann and Benzema, N’Golo Kante in their midfield and a team with countless World Cup champions. . It is only now that people are beginning to hear German football experts who say that Jadon Sancho’s form has been exceptional at the end of this season. He is the only player who naturally plays to the right of a three. It is not a crime not to watch the Bundesliga, but it is comforting that Jude Bellingham’s talent has been noticed.
There remains a desperation among some England fans to support the team through the lenses of their own clubs. Liverpool supporters fury when it was rumored that Trent Alexander-Arnold had not been selected. Leeds fans discuss Patrick Bamford’s “numbers” at every opportunity. West Ham fans defending Michail Antonio. The last two would not have been insane teams, but their absence is neither a surprise nor a defining problem of the tournament.
I remember suffering the same affliction in 2006, arguing with conviction that Aaron Lennon should replace David Beckham. Beckham scored or set up almost every goal England scored in that tournament. If Lennon hadn’t played for the Spurs, I highly doubt he would have made the case.
The blind love of a soccer team makes any attempt at perspective impossible. Some of the responses to Carlo Ancelotti’s “thanks for everything” tweet to Everton are one example. Colin is almost heartbreaking “Did you ever have feelings for us?” Everton was nothing to you, Carlo? Are you sure you felt it too? Those butterflies during those first few games? Hug Big Dunc? Not? Nothing? It’s your club. It’s Ancelotti’s work. Why wouldn’t I go to Real Madrid?
But that blind love will do the same to me this summer. That desperation to see England win a tournament once in my life. I’ll watch with that nausea in the pit of my stomach. I will get dizzy. I will forget that other countries play soccer. I will lose my objectivity. I will get too excited in the montages. I will flinch every time Harry Kane’s ankles get close to an opponent. I will pray that the scandalous decisions of the VAR follow our path. My heart rate will double at the mere mention of a penalty shootout. I will wait.
History tells us that England will not win the tournament. History also tells us that we could do it. If we accept that it is pre-ordered, then it could make everything that much more enjoyable. What will be will be.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism