January 8, 2014

'As a nation, we're not comfortable with winning'

Interview by Felix White
Shortly before he left for the tour to Australia, Graeme Swann talked about playing for England, the Ashes rivalry, and retirement
25

Before Graeme Swann set off on what would be his final England tour, during which he called a surprise end to his career as his country's most successful offspinner, he sat down in a London hotel for a different sort of interview. This is an abridged version of his meeting with Felix White of British band The Maccabees.

Given to the wild

Felix White: Did you think you'd ever play for England again when you went for so many years without getting a look in?

Graeme Swann: No, I 'd completely written it off. I moved to Notts to play in a better team and was more than happy with my lot.

FW: Did you still think you should have been playing for England during those years out of the side?

GS: Erm, I really hadn't thought about it, because Duncan Fletcher was in charge. If he were still in charge now, I wouldn't be playing for England.

FW: Why's that?

GS: He just hated me from that first tour [to South Africa in 1999-00]. I don't blame him, though. I was a young upstart who was nowhere near good enough. It makes me cringe thinking about it.

FW: What were you doing, just playing up?

GS: Playing up, talking back to everyone, telling jokes when I shouldn't have been. Half the reason was that I was intimidated by people in the changing room. These were my heroes: Alec Stewart, Mike Atherton. And Nasser, who was captain - the angriest captain in the world!

FW: You were 20, right? That's really young. You were basically still a child.

GS: You're not street-smart at all. In some ways that's a brilliant thing, especially in the case of Joe Root. The first time he played Test cricket he was like a wide-eyed kid. It's like with young golfers - they always hit aggressive putts because they haven't missed one that's cost them £5000. By the time they're 30, they've got the yips. Root didn't have a care in the world. To be honest, playing for England back then, I knew I didn't deserve it. I was a complete charlatan on that tour - picked on the back of one good England Under-19 match and a game I played on TV for Northants.

****

Mixing it with the Aussies

FW: Can I ask you something, and you might not be able to say, but there seems a genuine rivalry between you guys and the Australian players. It's not made up, is it? There's something there?

GS: There's the odd player who has exacerbated the situation. The tension is there because of the fact you're playing in the Ashes - it's a huge series... Obviously with what happened before this summer's Ashes, with David Warner, that just exacerbated everything.

FW: So that was a real thing?

GS: Oh yeah. The thing with Warner is that he is a spiky character. But the fact that he is a good player as well makes him twice as easy to hate, because you know he's more than capable of backing it up. When he doesn't back it up and gets out early, and you see that ejection of raw emotion from the bowler - that's real. When Jimmy got him out at The Oval, that was real. We were very glad to see the back of him. I mean, he picked on Rooty of all people - the nicest kid in the world!

FW: Well, you don't walk up to someone and just punch them, do you? I don't know anyone who actually does that.

GS: I don't know what was actually released in the end, but anyone who knows Rooty knows he's the most angelic kid in the world. That rankled everyone and you almost felt like you had to stick up for your little brother. It added some spice to it. Obviously their coach ramped it up with the whole Broady thing, so it was quite spiky.

FW: Do you think you've been dealt with quite harshly by the media? By the end of the summer even Warner was given the benefit of the doubt with people saying, "Oh, he's actually quite a good character".

GS: The Australians are fairly good at playing the media at the minute. I mean, to lose 3-0 - and it would have been four had the series lasted five minutes longer - and the press are still saying, "Well England are dour" etc, then I think they've been quite clever about it. They've used Shane Warne well.

FW: Darren Lehmann seems to have gone out of his way to do that…

"If Duncan Fletcher were still in charge now, I wouldn't be playing for England. He just hated me from that first tour [to South Africa in 1999-00]. I don't blame him, though"

GS: Yeah, well, Lehmann is one of Warne's best mates. Whatever he says our press lap up, so he uses it very intelligently. What we have to get better at is realising when people are being duped and just ignoring it. If you let it get to you, like the garbage about our over-rates… I mean, our over-rate for the whole series was +13; I don't think we've ever played a series where it has been that far ahead, apart from in India where we were operating with two spinners. It seemed very well spun.

FW: Do you think that's down to our English mentality, that we're uncomfortable with winning?

GS: 100%.

FW: You know what I mean? Like there's something odd about it. There's always got to be a reason why we've just won, and not just because we're a good side.

GS: You only have to look at all the ex-players who are very quick to say, "Yeah you've won the last three Ashes, but the Australians I played against were way better that this lot!"

FW: That's true. The Australians weren't getting told that they were playing a poor England side when they kept winning. It was just "What a great Australian side!"

GS: To be honest, I don't think it's just the press. I think it's the whole nation. We're very pessimistic. We always fear the worst and I think it permeates through the whole of society. We're not comfortable with winning. Look at America; they love winning teams over there and anyone associated with winning teams is immortalised forever. They've got countless "Halls of Fame". In England we have to go back to 1966 to find sport stars that were really revered. Bobby Moore was probably the last great hero.

FW: Yeah, that would be really claustrophobic to me - that kind of pressure. But it must spur on a team?

GS: I think we got very defensive this summer, with the whole Root thing and Broady being called a cheat and vilified for not walking. I think the best thing about that was the Australian team turned around and said, "Hang on a minute, none of us walked - you don't walk unless the umpire gives you out." The Aussie players didn't have a problem but their reaction was overlooked because there was a spark. Broady was unfairly chastised about it; he didn't do anything different than 90% of cricketers around the world would do.

****

Media management

FW: When you do interviews, there's a bit of "Gallagher" about you, isn't there? You don't really do interviews like a cricketer - you do them like a musician…

GS: (Laughs) For me, because I got back in to the England side a bit later, I don't really care about the consequences as much.

FW: Can you say what you want, knowing you're not going to get dropped?

GS: Well, I don't know about that! It's certainly easier when you're older and when worst comes to the worst, you know that you've played a bit and taken some wickets... I feel sorrier for the young lads because they have to be media-trained.

FW: What is media training?

GS: It's basically practising what questions you're likely to be asked.

FW: So they train you with the right answers?

GS: Yeah - you protect the brand image of English cricket. It's very carefully doctored…

FW: I thought that was a joke when people say, "Oh, he's been media-trained."

GS: It's so you don't put your foot in it and get the unwanted attention of saying the wrong thing by accident.

FW: Ain't that a shame though?

GS: It is. That's the thing about musicians and actors - there are no rules. You can do and say what you want. I like to be cheeky and express a bit of character in my interviews... I'm a massive believer that, you know, it's tomorrow's fish-and-chip paper. Once you're playing well, it's fine. We mentioned David Warner earlier - by the end of the series this summer, when he was playing well, he was almost seen as a hero. And that was on the back of batting really well at Durham. It's similar to KP over the years.

FW: I think the way it's played out with KP has been great - he's a great character. He says the right things and I like him for it.

GS: If he doesn't score runs for a while, the press gang up on him and they hate him and they vilify him. Then he scores 150, in a way that only he can, and he's a great hero again. It proves runs and wickets trump anything else.

FW: Have they tried to media-train you?

GS: Yeah, we've all had it... Part of the training is how to be media-savvy, not necessarily telling you what to say.

FW: Well, it's the press' fault as well then, surely? Didn't cricketers used to hang out with the press not so long ago?

GS: They did, but I think that's just a change in society. Now with 24-hour tabloid television and Sky Sports News everything's a story.

FW: That must be horrible - like somebody's out to get you at all times.

GS: It is a little bit, but I've always thought there's no point being antagonistic, because they'll crucify you. And even if you feel you're being harshly judged, like we did over the summer, there's no point in me suddenly snubbing the press and giving one-word answers, because you'd get ripped to shreds. I've always viewed the press just as blokes. Especially when you see them on tour, they're nice blokes; to a man, you'd happily sit there and have a beer with them. If I do an interview I talk as if I'm having a beer with them. There are one or two that have written things about me that I do harbour grudges about deep down, but I'm not letting you know who they are. Or them for that matter!

****

The future

FW: Are you going to retire after the tour of Australia?

GS: Me? I don't know. I hope not, because I hope I can carry on. I'm taking it month-by-month really, especially injury-wise. My elbow doesn't like playing cricket anymore. After a one-day game recently I honestly felt like I'd been set upon by a gang of thugs.

FW: Does it hurt while you're playing?

GS: Yeah. I hope I get through the winter fine, and I'd like to break Derek Underwood's record (number of Test wickets for an England spinner) as well - I think I'm about 50 off. For that I'd need another year or so of Test cricket. I don't know, I'll wait and see. Retirement wouldn't be so bad though. I'd like to see my band go global!

FW: Honestly, would you want to do that? What do you reckon you'll do after cricket?

GS: I'd like to think I'd do a lot of things - you only live once, don't you? It's been a good life and I think cricket will always play a part in it, but I hope it's not the be-all and end-all. You see sportsmen go on about their kids so much - that's because once you have kids you realise cricket isn't everything. My two kids are much more important to me than bowling or whatever. I'd like to think that whatever I end up doing, it'll be good crack.

This article was first published in the January 2014 issue of All Out Cricket magazine. To read Mark Butcher's England Blueprint, go here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 2929paul on January 10, 2014, 18:38 GMT

    to Paul Mcallister: not going to go into the skills required to be a Test wicket keeper but at least I spy an Aussie who realises it was a nick to Haddin which then deflected to slip. And for the record I was not too impressed with the way we played at the Oval although I would have laughed myself silly if we'd won, particularly as all we'd have got was even more whingeing from the Aussies. But Swann is right. 5 more minutes and England would have won, even if they didn't deserve it. Got their come uppance though and hopefully we'll learn from it.

  • on January 9, 2014, 17:51 GMT

    to 2929paul: Haddin didn't exactly fluff the chance now did he?! stood up to the stumps, if he had caught it, it would have been one of those one in a thousand chances that either nestle in the keeper's gloves or are spilled. get some perspective dude! ;-)

  • 2929paul on January 9, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    @greg ranger Unbelievable that Aussies still think Broad nicked it to slip and stood there. He nicked it to Haddin who fluffed the chance and it lobbed off his gloves to slip. I suppose that just emphasises the power of the media when they can keep the myth running. It's standard practice for professional cricketers to wait for the umpire's decision if the nick it to the keeper, just ask Haddin.

    Swann gave this interview to a cricket magazine before the tour and it was not a cricket journo who interviewed him but a musician, so that should give some context to the tone of the piece.

  • CustomKid on January 9, 2014, 3:34 GMT

    salazar555 on (January 8, 2014, 15:54 GMT) I'm an Aussie but I'd have to agree with your sentiments. Winning creates stories and sells papers no doubt. However losing creates controversy, rumor, speculation, innuendo, and just a massive amount of general rubbish, none of which has an ounce of truth to it and for what ever reason the public simply lap up. It sells a hell of a lot more papers and it would appear a vast majority of the UK residents seem tabloid obsessed. That is an outsiders view who has only visited UK shores on a few occasions.

    Pretty interesting article and facinating to see his elbow struggles confirmed prior to the tour of Australia.

    As a nation that doesn't like victory there are two that standout and became pretty important..... WWI & WWII anyone? That is all you need to say oh and maybe the Battle of Britain.

  • on January 9, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    there he (a member of the England cricket team) goes again, "4-0 if there was another 5 minutes of play!". No Swanny, how about the fact that Australia would have buried you under an avalanche of runs in their second innings but for the rather sporting declaration they were forced into (due to the bad weather around). they even declared their first innings early in order to make a game of it. and were nearly 150 runs ahead on both sides completed first innings.

    you see it's comments like this from a member of the England cricket team that ultimately lead to so much complacency in the return series. if only he (and others like him) would actually admit that England was well and truly behind the 8 ball and would almost certainly have lost but for the bad weather (just like at old Trafford).

  • paddy30 on January 9, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    Funny to read Swanny's comments re the ashes and the Australian media, the fact that England won 3-0 and that it could have been 4-0 - Australia were in control of that test and the only reason the Pom's got a sniff was due to Clarke's declaration and pursuit of victory - preparing to lose to win.

  • Chris_P on January 9, 2014, 2:01 GMT

    Good stuff Swanny, to the point. That comment showing the Aussies backing Broad just confirmed the media beat-up about Broad not walking and the lemmings who posted here. Umpires make the call, not batsmen, I don't think I have spoken to one Aussie who reckoned Broad was in the wrong. The media has a lot to answer for. BTW, Swanny, Warney was one of your greatest supporters! Cheers in your retirement.

  • Jonathan_E on January 9, 2014, 0:40 GMT

    That time more recently, just after Swann retired, and he gave another interview in which he thought certain people were totally up themselves, everybody thought he meant KP, and he had to say he didn't mean any current player?

    That basically leaves the backroom staff and coaches. My money's on it being either Flower or Gooch - the latter in particular was very much noted as a fun-hater when he was captain of England, just ask Gower and Morris...

  • on January 8, 2014, 23:40 GMT

    From an Australian point of view, the interview confirms what we all think about him. Very good bowler, but, selfish and self absorbed. You don't cut and run halfway through a test series, thats selfish. As for Stuart Broad, if you snick it to the slips and stand there, that's cheating. He didn't play and miss. I do not remember a Aussie batsmen snicking the ball to first slip and standing there, completely oblivious to the traditions of the game. As an Aussie, I am disappointed that Swanny has retired, because English spinners like him don't fall off trees, but, I definitely won't miss his arrogance, over confidence and that stupid asinine sprinkler routine.

  • on January 8, 2014, 23:21 GMT

    Strange interview - talking about everything but what happens on the field. Might as well have asked him about the prospects of peace in the Middle East

  • 2929paul on January 10, 2014, 18:38 GMT

    to Paul Mcallister: not going to go into the skills required to be a Test wicket keeper but at least I spy an Aussie who realises it was a nick to Haddin which then deflected to slip. And for the record I was not too impressed with the way we played at the Oval although I would have laughed myself silly if we'd won, particularly as all we'd have got was even more whingeing from the Aussies. But Swann is right. 5 more minutes and England would have won, even if they didn't deserve it. Got their come uppance though and hopefully we'll learn from it.

  • on January 9, 2014, 17:51 GMT

    to 2929paul: Haddin didn't exactly fluff the chance now did he?! stood up to the stumps, if he had caught it, it would have been one of those one in a thousand chances that either nestle in the keeper's gloves or are spilled. get some perspective dude! ;-)

  • 2929paul on January 9, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    @greg ranger Unbelievable that Aussies still think Broad nicked it to slip and stood there. He nicked it to Haddin who fluffed the chance and it lobbed off his gloves to slip. I suppose that just emphasises the power of the media when they can keep the myth running. It's standard practice for professional cricketers to wait for the umpire's decision if the nick it to the keeper, just ask Haddin.

    Swann gave this interview to a cricket magazine before the tour and it was not a cricket journo who interviewed him but a musician, so that should give some context to the tone of the piece.

  • CustomKid on January 9, 2014, 3:34 GMT

    salazar555 on (January 8, 2014, 15:54 GMT) I'm an Aussie but I'd have to agree with your sentiments. Winning creates stories and sells papers no doubt. However losing creates controversy, rumor, speculation, innuendo, and just a massive amount of general rubbish, none of which has an ounce of truth to it and for what ever reason the public simply lap up. It sells a hell of a lot more papers and it would appear a vast majority of the UK residents seem tabloid obsessed. That is an outsiders view who has only visited UK shores on a few occasions.

    Pretty interesting article and facinating to see his elbow struggles confirmed prior to the tour of Australia.

    As a nation that doesn't like victory there are two that standout and became pretty important..... WWI & WWII anyone? That is all you need to say oh and maybe the Battle of Britain.

  • on January 9, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    there he (a member of the England cricket team) goes again, "4-0 if there was another 5 minutes of play!". No Swanny, how about the fact that Australia would have buried you under an avalanche of runs in their second innings but for the rather sporting declaration they were forced into (due to the bad weather around). they even declared their first innings early in order to make a game of it. and were nearly 150 runs ahead on both sides completed first innings.

    you see it's comments like this from a member of the England cricket team that ultimately lead to so much complacency in the return series. if only he (and others like him) would actually admit that England was well and truly behind the 8 ball and would almost certainly have lost but for the bad weather (just like at old Trafford).

  • paddy30 on January 9, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    Funny to read Swanny's comments re the ashes and the Australian media, the fact that England won 3-0 and that it could have been 4-0 - Australia were in control of that test and the only reason the Pom's got a sniff was due to Clarke's declaration and pursuit of victory - preparing to lose to win.

  • Chris_P on January 9, 2014, 2:01 GMT

    Good stuff Swanny, to the point. That comment showing the Aussies backing Broad just confirmed the media beat-up about Broad not walking and the lemmings who posted here. Umpires make the call, not batsmen, I don't think I have spoken to one Aussie who reckoned Broad was in the wrong. The media has a lot to answer for. BTW, Swanny, Warney was one of your greatest supporters! Cheers in your retirement.

  • Jonathan_E on January 9, 2014, 0:40 GMT

    That time more recently, just after Swann retired, and he gave another interview in which he thought certain people were totally up themselves, everybody thought he meant KP, and he had to say he didn't mean any current player?

    That basically leaves the backroom staff and coaches. My money's on it being either Flower or Gooch - the latter in particular was very much noted as a fun-hater when he was captain of England, just ask Gower and Morris...

  • on January 8, 2014, 23:40 GMT

    From an Australian point of view, the interview confirms what we all think about him. Very good bowler, but, selfish and self absorbed. You don't cut and run halfway through a test series, thats selfish. As for Stuart Broad, if you snick it to the slips and stand there, that's cheating. He didn't play and miss. I do not remember a Aussie batsmen snicking the ball to first slip and standing there, completely oblivious to the traditions of the game. As an Aussie, I am disappointed that Swanny has retired, because English spinners like him don't fall off trees, but, I definitely won't miss his arrogance, over confidence and that stupid asinine sprinkler routine.

  • on January 8, 2014, 23:21 GMT

    Strange interview - talking about everything but what happens on the field. Might as well have asked him about the prospects of peace in the Middle East

  • disco_bob on January 8, 2014, 21:54 GMT

    Root may looked like a young Tommy Steele but I just don't buy that he's 'the most angelic kid in the world'. Otherwise seems like an honest interview.

  • whoster on January 8, 2014, 21:40 GMT

    Swann makes it quite clear that he wanted to play for as long as possible - and he also made it clear that his elbow was still troubling him. If it was the case that his elbow problems caused his retirement, then he's completely vindicated in the timing of his decision. He's taken a lot of unfair stick from some parts of the media, who are making their own mind up as to why he retired.

    England are going to miss Swann massively. Genuine world-class spinner, dangerous lower-order hitter, excellent slip fielder, and, one of the things the England side will desperately need in the coming months - A PERSONALITY!

    Gawd bless ya, Swanny.

  • Sir_Francis on January 8, 2014, 21:17 GMT

    "I've always viewed the press just as blokes. Especially when you see them on tour, they're nice blokes; to a man" So Emma John not a favourite of yours then?

  • Iddo555 on January 8, 2014, 15:54 GMT

    I don't think the English have a problem with winning, I think the English media have a problem with England winning. There is a difference. England fans love England winning, you only have to look at the scenes in 2005.

    The English media would much rather England lose and players careers be on the line because it gives them more fat to chew, more juicy stories to write rather than England played well and won.

    Same with the football, If anyone thinks England fans don't want to win then their dreaming, England's media love it when England fail so they can jump on the players and managers back.

    Great interview from Swann, hope to see him in the media box soon

  • cloudmess on January 8, 2014, 14:59 GMT

    Swann is spot on with the English culture of winning - some of the stuff written after the Lord's test of last summer was amazing, that it was bad form to be hammering Australia etc etc I had a feeling then that such comments would come back to bite us.

  • 2929paul on January 8, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    Typically honest interview and one which shows that he had retirement on his mind before he set off. He also highlights how fickle the media are. We do struggle with success in England, always looking for the negative, rather than believing we are half decent. Of course the reason is as soon as we do start thinking we're any good, we get stuffed 5-0 and the world and its wife is screaming abuse at the England team, its staff, its administrators and its supporters. IT'S ONLY A GAME EVERYONE. And Swann says as much in this interview.

    By the way @ Bruce Mclennan, I think you have misread and misunderstood. It is "not COMFORTABLE with winning" (not "used to"). And you misunderstand the nature and culture of football if you think that success for Man Utd translates into English national pride. A tiny minority of English people support Man Utd's successes, with millions more supporting other clubs throughout the country.

  • on January 8, 2014, 12:39 GMT

    I have no time for the negative comments about Swann. Because of his elbow pain he couldn't do it any more. he has been a fine bowler and an asset to the team. Good luck in what you decide to do

  • Chris_Howard on January 8, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    Good interview, made especially good by a non-journo doing it, giving it a much more realistic and conversational feel. Top effort, Felix.

    Swanny, top effort from you too over the last few years. Sorry your arm couldn't see out the series - tho I don't think Chris Rogers is! Takes a lotta guts to retire at the best of times, but mid-series, being able to say, "I don't deserve the spot anymore", takes a heap more. Well done.

  • on January 8, 2014, 11:03 GMT

    Wouldn't it have been in the January 2014 edition? :P

  • krinyan on January 8, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    Probably one of the best interviews from any celebrity i've read, i guess. That's exactly what fans want to know, honest and real things. I hope MSD & other top cricketers speak out openly and express their true feelings with cricket crazy lovers like us.

  • on January 8, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    This nation that has the Premiere league with successful teams like Manchester United are not used to winning ? Tell us another one Graeme.

  • 07sanjeewakaru on January 8, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Great Interview...with a strange reckless ominous feeling wrapped around it..Just Like the interview aggers did with Tony Greig on TMS April 2012. Swanny will be missed badly..That wonderful,smooth conventional spinner..and that wonderful English cricketer with mighty laugh.. Very Sad...!

  • tinkertinker on January 8, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    Swann obviously can't handle losing like a man, at least the other senior players stuck it out till the bitter end.

    He gets belted a few times and runs for the hills.

  • Biggus on January 8, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    "FW: Honestly, would you want to do that? What do you reckon you'll do after cricket? " Please, no reality television Graeme.

  • xtrafalgarx on January 8, 2014, 4:39 GMT

    Too bad you lost Swanny, 5-0 and you ditched the boat. Now the shoe is on the other foot, see ya later.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • xtrafalgarx on January 8, 2014, 4:39 GMT

    Too bad you lost Swanny, 5-0 and you ditched the boat. Now the shoe is on the other foot, see ya later.

  • Biggus on January 8, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    "FW: Honestly, would you want to do that? What do you reckon you'll do after cricket? " Please, no reality television Graeme.

  • tinkertinker on January 8, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    Swann obviously can't handle losing like a man, at least the other senior players stuck it out till the bitter end.

    He gets belted a few times and runs for the hills.

  • 07sanjeewakaru on January 8, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Great Interview...with a strange reckless ominous feeling wrapped around it..Just Like the interview aggers did with Tony Greig on TMS April 2012. Swanny will be missed badly..That wonderful,smooth conventional spinner..and that wonderful English cricketer with mighty laugh.. Very Sad...!

  • on January 8, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    This nation that has the Premiere league with successful teams like Manchester United are not used to winning ? Tell us another one Graeme.

  • krinyan on January 8, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    Probably one of the best interviews from any celebrity i've read, i guess. That's exactly what fans want to know, honest and real things. I hope MSD & other top cricketers speak out openly and express their true feelings with cricket crazy lovers like us.

  • on January 8, 2014, 11:03 GMT

    Wouldn't it have been in the January 2014 edition? :P

  • Chris_Howard on January 8, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    Good interview, made especially good by a non-journo doing it, giving it a much more realistic and conversational feel. Top effort, Felix.

    Swanny, top effort from you too over the last few years. Sorry your arm couldn't see out the series - tho I don't think Chris Rogers is! Takes a lotta guts to retire at the best of times, but mid-series, being able to say, "I don't deserve the spot anymore", takes a heap more. Well done.

  • on January 8, 2014, 12:39 GMT

    I have no time for the negative comments about Swann. Because of his elbow pain he couldn't do it any more. he has been a fine bowler and an asset to the team. Good luck in what you decide to do

  • 2929paul on January 8, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    Typically honest interview and one which shows that he had retirement on his mind before he set off. He also highlights how fickle the media are. We do struggle with success in England, always looking for the negative, rather than believing we are half decent. Of course the reason is as soon as we do start thinking we're any good, we get stuffed 5-0 and the world and its wife is screaming abuse at the England team, its staff, its administrators and its supporters. IT'S ONLY A GAME EVERYONE. And Swann says as much in this interview.

    By the way @ Bruce Mclennan, I think you have misread and misunderstood. It is "not COMFORTABLE with winning" (not "used to"). And you misunderstand the nature and culture of football if you think that success for Man Utd translates into English national pride. A tiny minority of English people support Man Utd's successes, with millions more supporting other clubs throughout the country.