England’s hope for the future
After the nation’s hopes went sky high, once again England failed. For the 5th time in 8 of their last tournaments they fell on penalties. At one point it looked like the quarter-final hoodoo was over as England’s luck got them to the shootout and they lead 2-1 until misses from Ashley Young and Ashley Cole following Pirlo’s cheeky chip sealed England’s exit.
But where did it go wrong? Changing managers so close to a tournament is an easy excuse, it’s not helpful but England’s problems lay deeper. For once these players did show passion for their country, but for most their time has gone, it’s time for an influx of young, fresh players who are hungry and who have lots to prove. The same can be said for the manager, Hodgson is not responsible for all of the blame, but a young fresh face would help with a young team, therefore Roy or Harry Redknapp would be a bad choice for the job if the decision made now. The majority of English managers seem to be living in the past as formations such as 4-4-2 are now becoming almost ineffective and outdated with the likes of the 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 dominating.
Tactics, manager and formation aside, could this Euro campaign have ended differently for England if the squad itself was changed? Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but looking at the team, a few changes would certainly have helped and for them to work, the tactics themselves would have had to be different as well. The squad taken to the Euros had depth and it is undoubted that it has quality, but it still lacked some of the star-studded, stand-out players that could turn a game on its head.
With some fresh players and new ideas the World Cup in Brazil could be a success. England almost certainly won’t win it as all 6 of the World Cups held in South America have been won by a team from the continent. If this European Championship had been used to help bring some younger faces in, who knows what could have happened, but it’s over with now so the qualifiers for the next World Cup should be used as the starting point for a new England; the next generation. In 2014, the tournament can be used as a stepping stone for Euro 2016 in France, which England could definitely be a contender for.
With all of that being said, if an England starting 11 was to be picked right now, with everything that has been mentioned, it would be as follows:
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
He is an excellent goalkeeper, one of the best in the world and Hart is only 25. If it wasn’t for the Manchester City shot-stopper England would have been out earlier in the Euros or been humiliated by Italy. Having a great goalkeeper is the perfect backbone for a winning team.
Right Back: Kyle Walker
Unfortunately, the Tottenham man was injured and missed out, but he is England’s best young right back and should be backed up by Micah Richards. Walker will start throughout the qualifiers for Brazil 2014 and be in the tournament, whereas Richards’ exclusion from the Euros was mindblowing, with him not even being chosen over Martin Kelly. Surely the biggest mistake by Hodgson.
Centre Backs: Phil Jones and Gary Cahill.
Both are great young players. Cahill played brilliantly in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph and will only get better learning from John Terry. Phil Jones is a future England captain and has many years in his career to improve with him being only 20, the Manchester United youngster’s future is bright and like Cahill, he will be able to learn from an experienced club team mate, Rio Ferdinand.
Left Back: Ryan Bertrand/Keiran Gibbs
Whoever plays the most out of these two young players in the next couple of years should start at left back in Brazil. Bertrand is learning from Ashley Cole at Chelsea whilst Gibbs has always had talent. Expect the Arsenal man to have a breakout season this year.
Midfielders: Jack Rodwell, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
These three in the middle could easily light up a tournament. They all have bags of energy and even better bags of talent. Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker are all in their 30s. Don’t rule either 3 out of being in the squad, but with Rodwell holding, Wilshire’s passing ability and Chamberlain’s bulldog-like approach, who knows what they could achieve, given the chance.
Wingers: Aaron Lennon (right) Ashley Young (left)
It would be easy for anyone to leave out Young after the tournament he had, but it was his first tournament and his first season at Manchester United. He will improve in the next two years and continue to be an asset for England. Speaking of easy, anyone would have thought that Aaron Lennon would be in the squad after his performances for Tottenham. How he wasn’t in over James Milner or just generally is baffling as Lennon’s game has come on leaps in bounds season by season.
Striker: Wayne Rooney
Despite his critics, Wayne Rooney is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world. He has brilliant control, a fantastic shot and a great footballing brain which means he can read the game so well and unlike many strikers he can drop back in to midfield to pick out 30 yard passes with his great range. He just needs a manager to bring the best out of him as England’s tactics don’t seem to suit his game. In 2004, England played attacking football and that is what Rooney loves, it is why he is so effective at Manchester United. Maybe making Rooney England captain would motivate him and show him that they want to build the team around him. In 2 years, he will be 28 and at the peak of his career, so despite whatever will be said, he could set the pitch alight come the World Cup.
After reading the choices, a 4-2-3-1 would also be suited, Wilshere and Rodwell holding with Chamberlain playing off of Rooney, meaning Young and Lennon would attack the wings and defend when England didn’t have the ball.
Overall, the 23-man squad would also include the likes of Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge up front. Theo Walcott in midfield, Chris Smalling in defence and players such as Nick Powell and Henri Lansbury have the skills to become England internationals. Admittedly, England will need some senior players, but experience isn’t always everything and with some fresh blood in the side and squad overhaul, the future could be oh-so-bright for English football.