With England just one step away from qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil do supporters seriously believe that the squad is good enough to challenge for the prized trophy next summer?
At this point I would like to be optimistic and firmly put across my argument that we can win the World Cup next year. However, my pessimism unfortunately keeps my feet firmly rooted to the floor as I contemplate another failed campaign to go with those that have gone before.
As onlookers and supporters I do believe we create our own problems. Historically we tend to build up our football team with often dillusional hopes of success. The build up to a major tournament is often filled with great expectations which whips the public into a frenzy and this
invariably comes to an abrupt end when the tournament actually starts and
results, or performances, disappoint.
England supporters need to be more realistic with both their hopes and criticisms. Will this be the first World Cup we go into where expectations are kept to a minimum?
There is no doubt that England do have some very capable players but criticism rains down on them once they start to fail as a team. Individuals are often harshly singled out for criticism because of an error they may have made during a game.
As soon as failure becomes reality for our team the press and supporters are quick to turn and point to the lack of passion, high wage bills, poor coaching and technical deficiencies of our
players. A lot of this is due to jealousy but our over-zealous optimism prior
to any game or tournament does us no favours.
England have a good mix of experience and youth with the likes of Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard providing the experience alongside youngsters such as Andros Townsend, Daniel Sturridge, Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley and Kyle Walker. They are all considered stars for their own clubs but on the international stage this group of players constantly disappoint themselves and their supporters.
Roy Hodgson has rightly given youth opportunities during this qualifying campaign, hoping to strengthen the competition and experience of his team. Long-term this may prove a good move for all the players.
Despite an array of talent we cannot match the skill and team-work of sides such as Spain and Germany. Belgium look to have a good squad but with the tournament in South America it will be difficult to look beyond the hosts Brazil or their main rivals Argentina. Taking into account the conditions alone it will be very difficult for England to make an impact.
Despite all this England have a game to win against Poland before we start to plan ahead.
The Poland game will not be easy, of that we know. England always seem to do things the hard way and with Poland having nothing to lose they will certainly give their all to embarrass the so-called English stars.
England's famous 1974 failure against the same opposition may well be repeated
Let's hope we are not reflecting and mourning another failed campaign tonight.
Brazil 2014 is perhaps too early for many of our young stars to make an impact and unfortunately will be the last chance for many of England's so-called 'Golden generation'.
Hopefully a greater concentration on coaching, developing grass-roots football and generally raising the standards will mean a World Cup campaign, where we can rightly go into it with optimism, is not too far away.
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