If there has been one mental state that has summed up EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs World Cup campaign, it has been rabid indecision.
Whether it was who should mind the nets or partner Wayne Rooney, Fabio Capello Ã¢ÂÂ and the rest of the nation, as they bickered in sordid crack-dens and air-conditioned organic delicatessens Ã¢ÂÂ couldnÃ¢ÂÂt seem to make up their mind conclusively about anything.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs little wonder then that, as the English stand on the side of the road rubbernecking the carnage, nobody quite knows what to do next. The FA have declared that they need a couple of weeks in which to ruminate and cogitate. And while itÃ¢ÂÂs easy to scoff at them for fudging the matter, the great British public isnÃ¢ÂÂt exactly thinking clearly on the topic either.
53% of FourFourTwo.comÃ¢ÂÂs voters believe Capello is still the man to lead England, while 55.6% of Guardian-takers said that he would be wrong to resign. Daily Mail readers, so often derided as a uniformly-minded, amorphous bile-blob of loathing, canÃ¢ÂÂt agree this time: an inconclusive 56% think Fabio should be axed; while even readers of The Sun Ã¢ÂÂ traditional ringleader of the bi-annual witchhunt against whichever poor sod happens to be picking the national team - arenÃ¢ÂÂt joining the pike-wielding hate mob en masse. 41% of them declared that the Italian gaffer should stay put.
Delving deeper into the red-topsÃ¢ÂÂ straw polls, Three Lions supporters seem more bewildered than a malarial Kerry Katona in an astrophysics exam. When The Sun asked whether they blame the players or manager, 45% pointed the finger at Rooney and company, 50% went for Ã¢ÂÂbothÃ¢ÂÂ and just 5% singled out the gaffer alone. Yet 59% of those who have just absolved him want Don Fabio to be professionally decapitated.
The users of Goal.com, meanwhile, clicked their mice 39% in favour of a P45 and 39% against, while 22% stated that FabioÃ¢ÂÂs future Ã¢ÂÂdepends how he handles the fallout.Ã¢ÂÂ Which presumably means that if he buys them a nice box of Milk Tray, whisks them away to Tuscany for a romantic mini-break and promises not to behave like that ever again, theyÃ¢ÂÂll let him off this time.
But what are the options? Absolutely desperate, it seems. Asked who should be in the hotseat for the first Euro 2012 qualifier, 27.5% plumped for Capello, 19% for Harry Redknapp and 18.5% for (now-new Liverpool incumbent) Roy Hodgson. So far, so reasonable-yet-underwhelming. But beneath that Holy Trinity on the target list comes David Beckham (12.8%), whose sole managerial contribution to date is looking incredibly rugged in a suit and clapping handsomely in South Africa.
A small, semi-sane contingent call for Martin OÃ¢ÂÂNeill (7.2%) and Stuart Pearce (3.1%). But below them, madness lies. 1.7% want to see the return of Steve McClaren Ã¢ÂÂ the most-mocked gaffer in British football history. 1.1% are convinced that Sam AllardyceÃ¢ÂÂs no-nonsense approach is the way to outwit Johnny Foreigner. And an incredible 0.9% think baseball caps and long throws are the future, scrawling their X in the box marked: Ã¢ÂÂTony Pulis, England managerÃ¢ÂÂ between swigs of meths and shouting Ã¢ÂÂb*stardÃ¢ÂÂ at traffic.
For the English, wild knee-jerking is an ever-present trait. Win a friendly, and the World CupÃ¢ÂÂs in the bag. Lose one and weÃ¢ÂÂre the most pathetic shower of unmotivated disgraces since The French at WWII. This X Factor-generation schizophrenia, while wrong-headed and annoying, has become inevitable. The present indecision is, however, more concerning.
The man on the terrace has never been short of a saviour, an option, and a six-pint-of-lager solution that MIGHT... JUSTÃ¢ÂÂ¦ WORK. That if we just did this, England could suddenly be globe-crushers again. But the bar stool preachers are silent and worried. The opinion columns, even, are half-hearted (one newspaper opined that the player needed a more personal touch likeÃ¢ÂÂ¦ Sven Goran Eriksson). The road ahead is foggy. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a depressing thought, but it looks like England could be head for yet another hung parliament.