England will be able to compete in next summer's World Cup with a lot less expectation than normal. The usual overhyped frenzy that seems to be standard during a major Championships summer looks to be a thing of the past as the whole nation seems to be more realistic about the hopes for the national team.
However, despite all this, England need to look to improve and show signs that they are learning on the International stage and give their supporters hope for the future.
Roy Hodgson, in his short spell, seems to have brought a calmness to the team but more importantly he has brought a sense of realism to the media and supporters. We still expect our team to perform but no longer do we believe that we can win a major tournament just by entering it.
England must look to get out of their group of that there is no doubt and, despite it being tough, they do have a very good chance of doing this. We do not have a very good record against Italy in the past but we should not fear them anymore. Likewise, the Uruguayans are a very good side, particularly playing in South America, but England can take comfort from the fact that they are very knowledgable about their star player, Luis Suarez. Now they need to find a way to stop him. Costa Rica will also test England but that is a game I fully expect England to emerge victorious from.
For me the most important thing is to gain experience for what will be, I hope, a fairly young squad. England do have a lot of young talent and should use this World Cup as a way of blooding these youngsters in tournament football, in what will be an alien environment to most. The squad needs to build confidence together to know that they can play at the highest level, use different tactics and show they are adaptable to conditions that will not be favourable to them particularly when they play Italy in Manaus in the Amazon.
England need to show they are capable of possession football whilst also trying to show that they have a cutting edge and flair in the final third. Keeping hold of the football is particularly important at International level and Hodgson is trying to make England play this way but it is a break from what many of the England players are used to at International and club level. The
Premier League, for all it's glitz and glamour, unfortunately does our International players no good due to the hustle and bustle football that it encourages.
Results are not necessarily the most important thing for Hodgson and his team but they will be keen to progress out of their group and possibly make the quarter-finals. Any further than this will be a bonus. Most importantly for England supporters is that they see progress being made and also see an England side who are seen to be giving 100 per cent for their country. We ask for no more but we definitely ask for no less. Hodgson, compared to his predecessors,
seems to realise all this and has communicated this to his players very well.
No European side has won a World Cup in South America so expectations will not be great for most European teams but England have a unique opportunity to prove that the future can be bright for the national team.
Let's hope that the squad that flies to Brazil is young and is given time to develop. Hopefully they will return with pride in their performances and experience that will help them grow as a team. Make no mistake, this is a huge World Cup for the national side.
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