This World Cup was undoubtedly the most embarrassing for England in the modern era after the national side where knocked out of the tournament after their first two games – losing 2-1 to Italy and Uruguay. Despite manager Roy Hodgson being merited in selecting the side on form and talent rather than which team they play for, something definitely went horrifically wrong and immediately raised questions as to whether or not Hodgson will stay on as manager and what the FA need to do to realistically meet their plan of being successful at Euro 2016 and winning the 2022 World Cup.
First of all, the very clear observation is that we simply are not good enough on the international stage and against high-ranking nations. However, calling Italy and Uruguay are high-ranking sides at this time is very kind. It is well known that the passed few years have been the worst in Italy’s history; being knocked out of the 2010 World Cup at the group stage and under-performing in every game they’ve played in despite being the unlikely finalists at Euro 2012. Furthermore, except for the attack, Uruguay is full of lower league players who against Costa Rica were completely outplayed and dominated. England therefore will be very disappointed to lose to these two teams as England clearly have some world class talent breaking through but clearly not talented enough to make a significant effect on the international stage. However, the younger players, such as Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck were clearly a dangerous force against Italy but the Uruguay game was one too many and none of the performed as well as they did against Italy.
On some occasions though, Hodgson should take the blame for what were clearly some managerial areas when he failed to notice when some players were struggling and under-performing and make effective substitutions early enough. Most noticeably in the Italy game, Ross Barkley was brought on way too late to make a significant difference, and bringing on Jack Wilshere, a more defensive midfielder, was a clear mistake when we needed goals. In the Uruguay game once again Hodgson was way to late to bring on Rickie Lambert to make a significant difference. No striker in the world could guide his side to victory with five minutes left. As well as this, Leighton Baines was a clear weak link in both games and Hodgson failed to notice this and give the fearless and talented 18 year-old Luke Shaw a chance to prove what he is capable of.
The main problem however, which is definitely a long term and almost certainly now an incurable issue, is the fact that the Barclay’s Premier League is the widely regarded as the best football league in the world, with millions of pounds being spent on players across the world. However, the lack of English players throughout the league is clearly apparent, and the English players playing at top level are over-paid and seemingly don’t respect the honour of playing for the national side as much as the fans would. The fact that it is incredibly common for teams to spend £20 million for a single player is absurd and along with the lack of funding for grassroots football means that English football is frankly doomed. When looking at world class national sides like Germany, they have been developing talent effectively and very successfully from almost every single side in the Bundesliga. As well as this, money in Germany and Spain has never seemingly been an issue with a Bayern Munich season ticket costing less the a season ticket for League one side Leyton Orient. In Spain La Liga Champions and Champions League Finalists Atletico Madrid’s entire side costs less than newly promoted English side Queen’s Park Rangers.
Mapping the money out like this makes it frankly absurd and completely ridiculous how much money is in English leagues with none of it being used effectively to aid the development of English talent.
Despite the FA regarding this particular tournament as impossible for us to win, they must have expected the side to get much further than they did and need to understand the crisis that English football is in. The FA need to take a page out of the German and Spanish associations and focus on the talent throughout the different leagues and put the ridiculous amount of money spent on player wages into vigorous development of grassroots and academy football so England can become a world class football nation once again.