English pride has suffered yet another devastating blow today, after a leaked MOD report revealed that the nation is 'more than likely' to face a humiliating defeat, should a world war break out in the foreseeable future.
The report, authored by top army pundit Brigadier Sir Gerald Mumford, states that, given the current state of national pride and lack of faith in England's abilities, the country simply lacks the 'backbone' for a sustained international conflict. 'England's Dunkirk spirit is fading and our stiff upper lips are decidedly floppy of late,' wrote the retired officer.
Sir Gerald goes on to concur with the general consensus that England's soldiers no longer have the passion that so characterised their predecessors: 'Today's infantryman is a pale imitation of the Tommies of yesteryear. These pampered, underpaid players may well perform well in their own regiments, but they simply fail to gel when placed in the national English army.'
England's defensive record is also criticised: 'We're fine going forward, but have a tendency to fall apart during the counter-offensive. Friendlies in Kosovo and Iraq have highlighted this defect - God forbid what would happen against a more professional and determined opponent such as Germany or Argentina.'
This report is not the first time the English team has been lambasted. As early as 1999 concerns were raised about England's role in Sierra Leone - most notably their insistence on using the now discredited 4-4-2 system, while only a few weeks ago an angry fan broke into Colchester barracks and berated soldiers for their failure to contain the spread of militant fundamentalism in Afghanistan.
Publication of this report has however caused many to come out in support of England's military prowess, blaming the media for heaping unrealistic expectations on the national side. According to military historian Dr. Nigel Talboys, tabloid hype must bear the brunt of responsibility for the army's failings. 'This 'two world wars and one world cup' business every time we enter into the smallest of peacekeeping missions has raised national jingoism to extreme levels. It's not a new phenomenon - in 1939, the Sun, with its headline 'Fritz War!' gave away free St. George blackout curtains to every reader.'
Despite this latest damning indictment of the English team, many fans remain philosophical. 'We might not be the mighty war machine that, from the Somme to the Falklands, fought tyranny and injustice any more', wrote one military fanzine editor, 'but at least we're not run by a bloody Italian.'