Forty-eight hours can feel like an eternity when your brand is in the centrifugal force in the maelstrom of public ridicule. In poor old Robert Green’s case, the error he committed by fumbling a save and letting in a dismal equalising goal in the World Cup match against the USA will plague him for the rest of his life.
Still, at least Green is English, where all he faces is ridicule and crushing, sweaty disappointment. In 1994, Columbian footballer Andrés Escobar was murdered after scoring an own goal in the World Cup. If England fail to progress, Green is likely to be vilified by the myopic soccer tribe in full rhetorical flow and be verbally lumped in with paedophiles, murderers and rapists in bitter conversations down the pub.
This despite the fact that, post-match, Green fronted up his error and bravely faced the media, admitting to the gaffe whilst attempting to take control of the narrative. In PR terms, it was a flawless effort in damage limitation. But, reading the papers today, the media continue to sadistically throw salt onto his open wound. We need a scapegoat and Green is the man of the hour.
Is this continued hysteria evidence of our collective derangement? And if so, what will come of it? The media sustain an overbearing optimism that this wretched bunch of sporting icons can somehow fulfil the nation’s sporting dreams. It reaches such a pitch that one might be easily convinced that winning the World Cup glory would somehow cure cancer.
The repetitive conjuring of the spirit of 1966 is damaging overkill. The pressure fashioned by an unhinged media every four years (assuming that England even manage to qualify, of course) becomes a onerous burden that suffocates any prospect of glory. How can intense media scrutiny be a good thing? It is, without doubt, the single biggest destroyer of any promise of success. The American approach – a few lines on the front page and a bigger report in the sports section – seems a lot healthier.
Alleviating the phenomenon of hype might just might give the team a chance to forget themselves on the pitch and put in a World Cup campaign performance that will surprise and delight. Footballing glory used to be as much about unplanned serendipity as anything else. Can anyone remember that time? It seems an ever more distant memory nowadays and would most likely appear miraculous if it happened in the current media climate.