THE former Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha left Scotland as something of a joke figure – even the BBC sports journalist Tom English described his reign at Ibrox as “a desperate mess from start to finish”.

The one thing that was never factored into Pedro’s humiliating retreat from ­Scotland was his ability to weave Portuguese proverbs into his press conferences.

One of his most famous sayings, ­dismissed at the time as the ramblings of a clown, was his description of the ­overheated hype that accompanies football. Remembering a ­proverb from his childhood in Beja in ­Portugal’s southern interior, he once told the assembled press pack: “The dogs bark and the caravan moves on.”

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Never a truer observation was spake.

Whilst Caixinha was aiming his ­comments at the Scottish press, it is a metaphor that works for the media more generally, and almost every branch of professional football – even the emergent women’s game.

Now that the Fifa World Cup final is over and England have returned home beaten but proud, there is a brief chance to reflect on the barking dogs, as the ­caravan fades away over the hillside.

The first thing many Scots are painfully aware of is the odd cultural coercion that accompanies England’s football teams when international competition comes around.

There is an unfounded expectation that Scots should rally around the British flag and lend their backing to England. It is an odd phenomenon which says much about the predictable tropes of the media and shines an expositional light on the ­neediness of English insecurity.

In the absence of Nicola Sturgeon (below), it was First Minster Humza Yousaf who was quizzed about his preferences in the run-up to the World Cup final. In some newsrooms, these crass questions ­masquerade as journalism. What we all know is that they are a gossamer-thin metaphor for the Union, which become increasingly ­tiresome with each passing tournament.

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I seriously doubt if António Luís ­Santos da Costa, the current Prime Minster of Portugal, was similarly pestered about whether he wanted Spain to win the World Cup, to prove his Iberian fidelity.

In 1950s, Americans were petrified by the McCarthy tribunals and the defining question of the era – are you now or have you ever been a Communist?

It seems as if inquisitions have ­corroded over time and we are now confronted with the biennial tedium of a fading ­union in which a common question seems to be – will you be backing England, and if not why not?

When England progress in a major tournament, and it’s to their immense credit that they frequently do, journalism seems to lose its marbles and becomes ­emboldened by full-on boosterism.

Those trendy couch shows from ­daytime to The One Show become ­unwatchable. Their desperation to pursue popular ­audiences now means that they mangle both history and geography, ­sometimes in the same item.

You would need a ­super-computer to count the ­number of times they have used terms like “the country” when they appear to be talking to the United Kingdom or “we” when they are patently not talking about us.

There is a reasonable counter-argument that if Scotland were to do well in a ­major tournament, we would be just as bad. I ­suspect we would be even worse and would take gloating and ­self-aggrandisement to unimagined heights. But there is one ­crucial difference: Scotland does not control the networks and has neither the reach nor the broadcasting powers to transmit into homes south of the ­Border.

We do not control network ­scheduling, we do not significantly influence the BBC’s mountainous sports budget nor does Scotland choose who should ­anchor the biggest shows. Our gloating would be world-class but smothered by a ­broadcasting eco-system almost entirely biased to England.

Over the past two weeks, we were told persistently by the BBC that the world of football would be delighted that two of the strongest footballing nations – ­England and Spain – had reached the final, thus guaranteeing a global showpiece event.

Sorry, but that is piling cliché upon a mountain of naivety. Millions of people around the globe – and more importantly the tournament’s organising body, Fifa – did not want England anywhere near the final.

Fifa’s most significant output ­involving England was not the Lionesses ­reaching the final but their Group D victory over China which attracted a TV ­audience of 53.9 million, the biggest in the ­tournament and not far off the total ­population of ­England.

I am fairly confident that the vast majority of the viewers of the ­state-owned China Central Television ­network were tuning in to watch China and not Millie Bright.

FOR all its many virtues, the BBC is ­myopic about world football and­ throughout the World Cup rarely mentioned Fifa’s governing mission: “Modernising football by being global, ­accessible and inclusive in all aspects. Not just on one or two continents, but everywhere.”

It was in many respects a setback for Fifa that the two competing finalists were from the most developed and ­historically established continent, Europe, and from the heartlands of rival footballing body Uefa.

None of this was provided as context as the network sports teams went about the predictable and increasingly tedious job of cheering England’s every move. I’m sure it happens elsewhere but it’s like turning the greatest show on Earth into a local village fete.

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It was down to Fifa to tell us that on the field, countries from all continents were writing their own piece of history. The Fifa website was more informative than the entirety of British ­broadcasting. For the first time, teams from all six ­confederations won a match at the ­tournament.

New Zealand became the first team from Oceania to register a ­victory, while the Philippines, Zambia, Portugal, Jamaica, South Africa and ­Morocco also got their first win.

There were great stories to tell but most were buried beneath banal patriotism.

There was Linda Caicedo of ­Colombia, one of the tournament’s true stars who as a 15-year-old faced giving up football to beat cancer and undergo life-threatening treatment.

There was Nouhaila Benzina of Morocco who became the first footballer to take the field in a World Cup wearing a hijab.

And there were the Jamaican mums, Cheyna Matthews and Konya Plummer, who balanced motherhood with football by organising a makeshift creche with the help of their teammates in the ­Jamaican squad.

Most passed us fleetingly by as both the BBC and ITV persisted with ­truly ­mind-numbing profiles of England ­players, some of whom didn’t make it on to the field of play.

Although it was not what England fans had hoped for, their campaign ended with a whimper. The uncosted bank holiday promised by the English populist Keir Starmer never materialised, the Lionesses returned to Heathrow, leaving by the back door, and the triumphant homecoming party wrinkled like an old balloon.

In a final show of defiance, the barking dogs yapped at Nike’s ankles ­demanding they release a goalkeeper jersey to ­honour England keeper Mary Earps. It was a sure sign that the caravan was ­already passing over the horizon.

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Spain had already delivered the greatest human-interest story of the tournament when it was revealed that goal-scorer Olga Carmona’s father had died. The news had been kept from her at the family’s request.

Then in the emotional moment of ­victory, Spain’s football federation ­­president Luis Rubiales grabbed his crotch in a ­victory gesture with 16-year-old ­Princess Infanta Sofía of Spain ­standing nearby. He then brought further disgrace to Spain by ­planting an ­unsolicited kiss on the lips of Jenni Hermoso, at the medal presentation. Yet even yesterday, Rubiales was defying his critics and still clinging on to power.

It was all over. England had even lost out on one of their most famous pursuits – football scandal.

The dogs were silent and the caravan had moved on.