Club versus country. Who wins for you and why? That’s the question – the other question, if Mr Eduardo and his sensitive supporters will permit one last mention – that Salut! Sunderland poses each week during the season to the opposing fan or fans doing the Who Are They? feature.
I have not analysed the replies in any detail – though it might be a good idea to do so – but can say that the responses overwhelmingly put club first.
And indeed, you can put club first and still observe your patriotic duty, with whatever strength of feeling, in supporting your country too.
My own answer to the Club vs Country question is – and yes, I’ve used the line before – that it’s an easy home win. I’d consider spending money I haven’t got, using pass outs I haven’t been given and devoting time I should be using otherwise in order to watch a Sunderland game on which nothing depended. Internationals, on the other hand, I can take or leave.
Yes, I want England to do well, and that remains the case despite the various setbacks Sunderland fans have suffered over the years as potentially international class players from our club have been systematically overlooked.
I can even look back a few months and find evidence that the imminence now of the World Cup has revived my own enthusiasm to some extent. In the first of a three-part series on the question posed by this article’s headline – click this link – I mentioned an earlier Darren Bent exclusion by Fabio Capello, against Ukraine, and said it wouldn’t have made much difference to my interest anyway.
With the big kick-off only a week away, I cannot deny that I’d have felt a lot more passion about England had he gone (and played some meaningful part).
So when it really matters, I can become an England supporter again, however shamefully I can be put off by club-based disappointment. It leaves me wondering how many of our Who Are They? guests also feel just a little fired up, now that it’s so close, having answered my Club vs Country? with a resounding “Club every time”.
Living in France, I’ll see plenty of Les Bleus, though I expect their stay in the tournament to be short; I will otherwise root around the channels or streams in the hope of catching some scintillating performances from Paulo da Silva and Cristian Riveros for Paraguay. And from England.
If England make it all the way, grand. If they come home with tails between legs, so be it. It won’t have anything like the same emotional impact for me as winning promotion (short memories) or the cup (longer ones) or indeed, flicking the coin, going down or missing out. But it’s the best I can do, and it’s an improvement on my previous thoughts.
See also: Club versus country: (1) A smoking gun
(3) The yob factor