Aside

England fall again

Devastated. That’s how I feel after the game last night. Leading into this tournament I set my expectations so low but still I’m devastated. Before this tournament, especially after the draw was made I told myself that we would be so lucky to get out of the group but as the squad was named and as we got closer and closer to the start I guess I just couldn’t help but get caught up in the hype and start to believe that maybe, just maybe England’s young guns could impress and surprise at this tournament.

Last night our players weren’t good enough. Gerrard for all of the good he has done over his time with England, was poor but still cant be blamed for the second goal at all, that was poor defending as was the first goal. Sterling is young and promising yes but with time and experience he will learn when to try and take it past a player and when to pass. Henderson and Welbeck aren’t good enough and I personally believe they were only playing to cover our weaknesses in defence. With a stronger back 4 we could have played a much more attacking 11 that would have been able to capitalise on all of the possession we had in the two games and maybe the results would have been different.

For all of the abuse he has got over the past few weeks I thought Wayne Rooney was exceptional last night and was by far our best player, yes he isn’t a world class player but at the end of the day he has 40 international goals and has had the weight of the nation on his shoulders and he is as close as England have been or will get to a world class player for a few years.

I think the problem overall is with English football and the system that is employed.
Raheem Sterling for example was called up to the main squad before he ever played for the under 21’s, no matter how promising a player is they need to have worked their way through the appropriate youth levels first to gain experience of international football. Ideally they should have played in a major tournament at youth level. If this happens you get groups of players coming through the system together and they all have experience of big stage tournaments.

Going forward England need to change, lots of things need to change, some will and some probably won’t. Young English players need to be playing regular football at a high level. James Milner for example played more times for England under 21’s than anyone else and has been a regular fixture in the England set up for many years now but if he was at a club where he could play every week I think he could have been a starter for the past few years.

Our next game will be a friendly against Norway in September and for that game I believe our team should be Hart; Flanagan, Cahill, Stones, Shaw; Jones, Wilshere; Sterling, Barkley, Ox; Sturridge. This is the England team of the future and the team that will give us the best chances of succeeding going forwards. For that game I think Rooney should be rested so we can get a look at an entirely youthful team.

As an England fan I think that the problem lies with our inability as a nation to doubt our football team. After every tournament this happens, we say how bad we are and slate our players, managers and system but then we build ourselves up over the next two years thinking that this tournament will be England’s. The sad truth is that until we have drastic changes within English football I think our trophy drought will continue.

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World Cup 2014

So the World Cup is almost upon us, 32 of the worlds best teams and the favourites have already been picked. Surely it will be Brazil at home or Spain after their years of domination of world football… surely?

Honestly while it does help having talent I think that passion, teamwork and luck are the key elements to a successful world cup, and for a world cup like this being able to deal with the climate is huge.

Turkey and South Korea in 2002, Greece in Euro 2004, Ghana in 2010 all of these teams were by no means the best or near the best in those tournaments yet they all massively surpassed the expectations.
Turkey finished 3rd in 2002 with South Korea 4th, Greece won Euro 2002 and in 2010 Ghana were one Luis Suarez handball away from a place in the top 4.

All of these teams show the importance of teamwork and determination and show that regardless of not having a team of world beaters you can still achieve in major tournaments.

For this World Cup there will be a team that nobody expects in the top 4.
I believe it will be a South American team due to the climate, had Falcao not got injured I would have predicted Columbia.
Maybe it can be USA who always seem to perform well, (although they are probably in the hardest group), maybe it could be Belgium who are full of talented youngsters but my optimistic prediction is Ecuador. They have France, Switzerland and Honduras in their group, a group they can easily navigate and win. If they do they’ll play either Bosnia, Iran or Nigeria which again is a winnable game. From that stage on luck plays a massive part so who knows.