Blog: Mancini’s comments reveal problems of hedonistic culture in UK

‘I do not understand players drinking until they are drunk. We do not have that culture in Italy. We would prefer to go off with a woman. That’s what I liked to do after a match, and I tell my players now it is better to go with a woman than drink. Much better.’

The candid words of Roberto Mancini reveal so much about the difference between professional ambition in England and Europe. In the weeks following Wayne Rooney’s carnal exploits being broadcast world-wide, on the back of seven months of disappointing football for England’s premier striker, he has become the focal point around much discussion.

But somehow discussion – whether it be due to our individualist, celebrity centred press or simply because we wish the lad well really – has not taken into account the wider, more pressing problems that consume so much footballing talent in our country.

But a closer look at the words of Mancini expose much. Women. Not something our lads have too much of a problem with. The x-rated exploits of more or less the entire England squad have been exposed, or described to us by the press. And most of the tales involved a fair few jars, to say the least.

It is ironic that the incentive for these squeals to the press was huge amounts of money – quite possibly the same thing that attracted these ladies to the lads, or even allowed the lads to target these ladies, depending on your views on the aesthetic qualities of the England squad… but its money, again, isn’t it. And a vulgar greed for all that it brings.

Tales of Rooney’s excessive drinking, smoking, urinating up walls, gambling, womanising and the rest of it are not just the stuff of modern day tragedy for fans of celebrity and football alike. He is a microcosm of a great many English footballers, who don’t fulfil their potential, who get distracted by those things best done in moderation but indulged to excess on a wage which barely acknowledges it, in a country that adores it.

Our national pastime, all the bacchanalian hedonism it brings; our substitute for victory, whether it be on the pitch, or over hearts, and minds, is more alluring to us than victory itself. No wonder then, that we are a nation of quarter-finalists.

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