There have been many articles flying about recently in the papers and on the BBC on how many feel that England will not be in the final of the World Cup come 13th July next year. Why do we need to know this? Is this not apparent enough after a scrappy qualification campaign and a torrid time last week where we failed to score against Chile and Germany.
Personally I feel the limited expectations will help this England side. For the last decade and a half England have been overwhelmed with great expectation of success in major international competitions, but why should a squad that mainly consists of average Premier League players (when you contrast them with their foreign counterparts) ever be expected to be World beaters?
Brazil 2014 gives the national side the chance of a fresh start. If the likes of Townsend, Ravel Morrison and Lallana all get given a chance in the 23-man squad then it could benefit us for the future. Lets face it, this will most likely be Lampard, Gerrard’s and Ashley Cole’s last major tournament, so we need to take a leaf out of Germany’s book and through our young players into the first team now. I would happily see a youthful team get knocked out in the last sixteen if it meant progress in future competitions. Remember Germany in 2010? They had an average squad age of just 25, second youngest only to Ghana. For this reason nobody quite expected the Germans to cause as great an impact as they did, and since then they haven’t looked back.
England’s main problem is that we our far too predictable. Everyone knows how we play, everyone knows about Rooney, and when it comes to us playing the top teams, they can combat our threats far too easily. They do not, however, know much about Morrison, Luke Shaw, Lallana, Zaha, Barkley and the rest. This is where we can surprise teams, not necessarily beat the likes of the Netherlands, Germany and Brazil but make us respectable again on the world stage, and get us playing a brand of fast, attacking football. Not the drudge that we have been spooning up of late.
What the media and the fans have to do though is NOT over hype our young stars. This is something that I believe has been a major reason why England have not performed well at major tournaments since the 1990’s. The pressure is just too much for a team, which lets face it, is not in the same league as the Spain’s, Brazil’s, Germany’s and Argentina’s. Why do you think Rooney has never scored a World Cup goal? He’s constantly weighed down with the expectation that he is England’s saviour. Imagine being in his shoes when he plays in a World Cup or European Championship? It has already happened with Andros Townsend. Granted, he was superb against Montenegro, but it took just ninety minutes for the English media and fans to bill him as our next star. For crying out loud he was only on loan at Birmingham City little over a year before that match!
So what can we hope of our national hopes come June next year? Very little – of course, but what fans need to remember is that Brazil needs to be a stepping stone for England. It’s about experience for a young players who could be great one day. But when the inevitable happens do not harpoon the side, just accept that we are not as good as we used to be.