My country (England) takes its national team far too seriously, and I am glad. It makes life interesting. Logically we should just be happy to reach the last eight of a major tournament. But since when has the heart and the head been the same?
The latest storm in a teacup is over Harry Redknapp missing out on the England job, a post he seemed to have sewn up when Fabio Capello walked out of Wembley for good in February.
England for decades has been a spectacular un-achiever at international level, which makes any furor over a new boss in one sense look absurd. As any sober analyst knows, ingrained deficiencies in the English game are what fatally handicap its national teams more than any one man in charge of the first eleven. Or, what worked in 1882 does not work anymore in 2012.
So, the hiring of a multilingual UEFA technical assessor who has coached three countries, one of them at USA '94, reached two UEFA Cup Finals and guided clubs in Serie A, the Premier League and in six other nations should be a cause for celebration.
For all Tottenham's crowd-pleasing these past two seasons, would such a cavalier approach garner a better score against Spain than Capello's austere 1-0 victory at Wembley did last November? Certainly more entertaining under Harry, but much riskier too.
Some writers have indeed welcomed Roy Hodgson, understood the Football Association's motives and will give him a chance to impress.
But others have already made up their mind and reacted with dismay that the people's choice was passed over, citing the rejection of Brian Clough in 1977 and 1982 as proof the F.A. blazers have never understood the man in the street.
Most vulgar of all, the tabloid Sun splashed a front-page mocking of Hodgson's rhotacism, a day after the UK parliament denounced its owner Rupert Murdoch as unfit to run a large corporation.
Its chief football writer Shaun Custis was at his pompous worst, refusing to welcome or back the new man in charge. I witnessed the same hack ruin an England press conference in Poland by pressing Capello over John Terry's extra-curricular deeds, causing the manager to walk out after only two questions.
At the heart is a cultural struggle for the nation's soul in a changing age. Redknapp is the last hurrah of Old England, as in some ways is The Sun - a nation that gets by on confidence, grit and passion alone and remains defiantly dismissive of learning and suspicious of foreign wisdom.
England is globalising as fast as the Premier League is being dominated by overseas players and coaches. There are even more Scots than English coaches in it this season.
While 65 year-old Redknapp is the reassuring past, the poor boy made good on his wits alone. Born in Poplar, heartland of the now mythical working-class Londoner known as the Cockney, his dad was a docker. But go there now and the Cockneys have vanished along with the cranes and the ships.
From his accent, Hodgson is a working-class Londoner too but might as well have come from France. While Roy has waxed lyrical on the works of Nabokov, Updike and Zweig in the literary pages of The Observer, 'Arry penned a footy column for the soft-porn Daily Sport.
Hodgson burst into tears once on the bench at Inter - not a good sign when the wolves of Fleet Street are salivating at the latest sacrificial lamb. They think Hodgson is a wimp they can tear to pieces when England lose a match, and will relish saying 'I told you so'. England's press gang is vicious and incestuous. They hunt in packs, which explains why Custis was patted on the back for disrupting that press conference and even some of the best scribes like the Telegraph's Henry Winter stood up yesterday to defend the indefensible.
The London journos get together and decide the next day's headlines before asking the questions. Reporters from rival newspapers swap quotes and arrange together what the focus in the papers will be on different days of the week.
The USMNT press conferences I have attended have been bliss in comparison - there is no organised witch-hunt afoot and reporters appear to be reporting and asking illuminating questions instead of sticking doggedly to their own agendas. Having played in England, Germany and Italy, Jurgen Klinsmann must know how lucky he is today.
I have been to Redknapp press conferences and the atmosphere is like a friendly luncheon amongst old pals. Hodgson on the other hand feels threatened by hacks and can get prickly and defensive. Dealing with the press is a crucial part of the job which some England managers (Bobby Robson, Graham Taylor) have got badly wrong. And being a native speaker, Hodgson cannot pretend he does not understand the question (Capello) or its nuance (Sven-Goran Eriksson).
I hope for the best but also fear the worst. Oh for a Cloughie to frighten the life out of journalists again!
Apart from having been surpassed in tactics and technique, England also uniquely struggles with the psychological millstone of having invented soccer. Just look at Premier League Chairman Sir Dave Richards' lunatic outburst in Doha in March, where, possibly inebriated, he cried that 'gangs' called FIFA and UEFA had 'stolen' the game from England, before he tripped and fell into the hotel pool.
In addition, association football was codified and organised at a time Britannia ruled the waves, administering a global empire enforced with discipline and might. This blurring of the lines between the military and civilian at football's inception bequeathed a Charge-of-the-Light-Brigade mentality in English football, and has left the national team as patriotic flag-bearer in this post-imperial era, lumping irrational expectation upon it every two years.
Singing 'Two World Wars & One World Cup' made perfect sense to me as a face-painted teenager at the old Wembley, itself a relic of the British Empire Exhibition of 1924.
But times have changed, unlike British tabloids and their lust for adrenalin-fueled football. Successful creatures adapt to survive and the Three Lions need evolution. Hodgson might be the man. But even if he just dashes another set of supporters' hopes over the next four years, the vicious triangle of England's manager, press and fans will still be a carnival worth watching.
After all, it's only a game.
-Sean O'Conor, London