England's 1-1 draw with Montenegro seemed to be typical of a trend developing under the management of Roy Hodgson; England do not win "big games."
The trend dates back to the European Championships, which saw England completely outplayed by eventual finalists Italy.
It seems to be a mixture of style of play and unreasonable expectations that have resulted in disappointment in the minds of many England fans.
Although England are by no means blessed with a crop of exceptional players, they are still not achieving their potential, and this has often been due to the managerial decisions made by Hodgson.
Despite Hodgson admitting that “[Montenegro] took control in the second half apart from the last 10 minutes', he only made one change relatively late on in the game.
Hodgson's starting XI could also be questioned; Tom Cleverley and James Milner are far from awe inspiring selections, and there were players left out who could arguably have had a much more decisive impact. It is not merely hindsight that has raised these questions; prior to the game many were questioning the creative abilities of Cleverley and Milner, over the likes of Frank Lampard, Ashley Young and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
In a 4-2-3-1 formation, the man at the centre of the 'three' plays a pivotal role in creating opportunities for any of the other attacking players, and, simply put, Tom Cleverley does not warrant the task of filling such a key position for the national side. In addition to this he was joined in the 'three' by the unimaginative, albeit industrious, James Milner, a man who is known more for his versatility than midfield expertise.
Many would argue that Frank Lampard's performances for Chelsea this season show that he still has something to offer to England, and, with the absence of Jack Wilshere, the game against Montenegro seemed an excellent opportunity to display this.
Although Hodgson and England must look to their potential future talent, if the players are not ready or good enough yet, then they must not be included. Furthermore a style of play more suitable to winning games must be established in order to create a platform for future success.
With key qualifying games still to come, and the fate of the group still in England's hands, wins are an absolute necessity. Hodgson has the players at his disposal to win a group that is absent of any real quality, yet he must be bolder in his selections, and more positive in his style of play. If he does this then England will win their group and book their tickets to Brazil, although what happens in Rio in 2014 is another matter altogether.
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