England will never win the world cup thanks to the Owls and Blades

United celebrate their 3-0 giant-killing of QPR
United celebrate their 3-0 giant-killing of QPR

England will never win the World Cup again and you can blame United and Wednesday for that.

United, Wednesday, the FA Cup and our national obsession with rubbing ‘toffs’ noses into the dirt.

Who cares about international success or whingeing Premier League stars when we have the third round of the FA Cup?

There is a deeply-ingrained desire in us to overcome the status quo, to temporarily turn the order of things on its head so we can pour scorn on our rulers and flick the finger to the elite.

Nowhere is this basic tendency more developed than in class-bound, status-obsessed Britain.

And the supreme evolution of that tendency is found in football fans. We thrive on bitterness, adore division and live for the downfall of our sporting ‘betters’. And that’s why we will never win the World Cup.

Our desire to get one-up on the top dogs means we’ll keep the annual festival of toff-bashing that is the third round of the FA Cup which follows the mad-as-cheese festive period where top teams play four games in eight days to soften them up so we can look forward to a few fallen heroes and third round scalps.

But don’t lower teams face the same fixture list?

Yes, but according to sports science, top players lose the ten per cent that puts them at the top, their diminished capacity allows lesser teams to compete on more equal terms.

Ask any football fan his favourite fixture and two out of three will say Boxing Day. Why?

Because it’s tradition.

The crowning glory of a culture that loves football tribalism, beer, a good laugh, time off work and some decent snap to come home to.

The Christmas fixture schedule is all of this and more. The more is the ritual slaughter of a few Premier League sacred cows on third round day.

The rest of the world loves it too because it means they have our games on TV while their players are resting on their winter break, letting knocks and injuries clear up, allowing them to stay fresher for longer and be tournament-ready by June - should they need to be.

We will continue to be the Punch and Judy show of world football because we love it.

It’s what we do, the whole world knows it and is glad.