The 2014 World Cup was an unmitigated disaster for England. For the first time in recent memory, England flew out to a World Cup with minimal expectations. But in true England style they failed to even meet a low level of hope. England returned from Brazil after three games. This was a trip which saw them only score twice and pick up just two points. Despite the dire showing, manager Roy Hodgson retained his job.
With the World Cup over, English eyes have diverted their attention to the 2016 Euros, which will be held in France. So, do the Three Lions have a chance of tasting success there or will it be another repeat of the debacle that took place in Brazil?
We will assess certain areas of the national set up before reaching a conclusion on whether England will be able to get themselves out of what will be 50 years without a trophy.
The most important element to any successful side is the players who compose it. In this regard it is looking rather promising for England.
Hodgson came in and was immediately tasked with rebuilding an ailing side. This was much like Joachim Lowe with Germany and we all know how much of a success he has proven to be.
With the World Cup done and dusted, the final remnants of England’s golden generation of the mid-2000s has gone. In its place is a squad of relatively inexperienced international players, but who have a huge amount of promise at the same time.
Wayne Rooney is maturing all the time as a player. He is captaining Manchester United week in, week out and is therefore rounding his skillset as a captain. The fact that Rooney is the leader at Old Trafford makes for very good reading as when it comes to leading the national side out it will not be a task that is alien.
Away from Rooney, England have a strong core to their side. Goalkeeper Joe Hart is one of the best in the world. Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling has an abundance of pace and the potential to really leave a legacy on the game. It is little wonder that Real Madrid are reportedly chasing him. His club team-mate Daniel Sturridge has recently returned from injury and once he is back amongst the goals he will establish himself as a striker of the highest order. Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere could form one of England’s greatest ever midfield partnerships. Wilshere brings the flair and a great range of passing, whilst Henderson will do the leg work.
Defence is the only area which is concerning for England. Phil Jagielka has been hapless with Everton this season while Gary Cahill could be getting nudged down the pecking order at Chelsea thanks to the emergence of Kurt Zouma. At left-back neither Leighton Baines nor Luke Shaw have really impressed for their club. But they are regardless two of the better full-backs in the game. It seems hugely likely that Glen Johnson will be removed as right-back. He is too much of a risk defensively. In his place should be Nathaniel Clyne, who has been hugely exciting this season.
As a whole it would have to be said the England squad is strong. At the time of writing, bookmakers such as 32red.com Casino and Sports, TitanBet and 888 have odds ranging from 14/1 to 9/1 on England’s chances of success in France. If Hodgson can get the same 11 players on the pitch for every international fixture, then England will become a homogenous side. That will be much like the world-conquering German side and the previous Spanish side.
Hodgson is a good man-manager and can be commended for his commitment for bringing youngsters into the international fold.
But it isn’t that positive for Hodgson. On the international stage his tactics have been accused by some as being dated and lacking with a plan b. As we saw at the World Cup, England were exposed too often despite playing fairly negative football.
This negativity has had a dire impact on England’s attacking play. There have been times that England work the ball into a good area and then simply don’t know what to with it. If Hodgson were to mastermind a trophy-winning side it would have to come as a result of him being pragmatic in regards to his tactical decisions.
As long as we have Southampton we should be alright in regards to youngsters. How long will it be before James Ward-Prowse swaps the bright lights of St. Mary’s for Wembley? Then there is the Everton duo of Ross Barkley and John Stones. Both have the talent to be England mainstays. Even Danny Ings or Charlie Austin up front offer the national side something different. Both players fill fans with much more confidence than seeing Rickie Lambert lead the line.
However, the Premier League is devoid of young English talent so don’t expect many new faces to the international set-up by 2016 except for those mentioned. Come 2018 and the World Cup in Russia, England could have some new blood in the mix.
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Betting odds on England winning the Euro 2016:
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As has always been the case with England, they have the talent to win a competition but they don’t have that winning mentality. Hodgson needs to toughen them up, find his starting 11 and stick with them for the next 18 months. England can win the Euros, but it would be somewhat of a surprise if they did – as is reflected by bookmakers’ odds for Euro 2016.