Ain’t I a proud Englishman?

So that's it, then, we're stuffed. Might as well pick up our ball and go home. The Spaniards play better football and win the pots. The Germans get the biggest crowds and have the most financially sound clubs. We let all these foreigners come here, on the pitch or in the boardroom, and what good does it do us? Bugger all. Apart from massive debts. We're rubbish really.

On 10 January we'll know who gets this year's Ballon d'Or award for the world's best player and we already know the winner will not be an Englisher. That's because no English person has made the 23-man shortlist. Twenty bloody three - and we can't squeeze in one. Pathetic.

If we are so good, why are we so bad? I mean if clubs like Man City, Man United and Chelsea also have this money, and ours is supposedly the most competitive league in the world - which those poor deluded sods on Sky still appear to believe - why can't we get one native Brit into the top 23? Even worse, why are so few of the world's best players now playing here, in our moneybags Prem?

Among the likely winners are Messi, Eto'o, Iniesta, Villa, Xavi, Ronaldo. OK, the latter did once play here, passing through for a brief period when young, but the chances of the others thinking, "Hmm, must go to the Prem and advance my career" are nil. Advance my pay packet, possibly, when I'm really old and knackered. We are still in the world rankings for pay.

We haven't even got the world's best hooligans, as the Italians have taken over. Nor the best supporters. Those Polish fans from Lech Poznan at Man City the other day were brilliant - what noise, what energy, what synchronised cheering and scarf wearing, then, at a given signal, they all turned their backs on the game and jumped up and down. Mad but wonderful.

But this is a happy column, so here are five reasons still to be proud of English footer. Pitches. Our Prem pitches are ace, smooth as bowling greens - even Man United has got a grip at last. In Spain, Real Madrid and Barça are OK, but most of the rest in La Liga are frankly shite.
TV coverage. Sky might be blindly patriotic, but technically its coverage is excellent. I groan when our lads are abroad and realise we are having to take pictures from their local John Bull printing TV company.

Programmes. I also moan at Spurs and Arsenal about their programmes costing a fortune, £3.50 and £3, and being full of stupid sponsors' ads, but they are big and fat, up to 100 pages, and pretty informative - whereas in Spain and Portugal, their progs are thin and weedy, if you can find them.
Bovril. Still exists, if you look hard. And delicious as ever. Those Spaniards with their silly seeds make such a mess and look inane, chewing away.
English. We began the game, and, in most languages, the words for football, goal and penalty are much the same.

And the influence lives on. When we are being humiliated in some foreign field, I like to look around the pitch and note that on their backs the stewards have the Old English word STEWARD. I do feel proud.