A common theme in the narrative of the past failures of the England national team at major tournaments is that the positive pre-tournament rhetoric is always so far removed from the sobering reality of their poor results, and even poorer performances on the pitch.
Their superlative-laden words are invariably betrayed by their lack of action when it matters most. Among the familiar causes of death in the post-mortems of past English sides to have perished on the big occasions is that the team suffocate under the intense, all consuming expectation and pressure applied by the British media.
However, Roy Hodgson’s brave decision to select such a young, attack-minded squad for the 2014 World Cup have made a lot more noise than any of his words, his brave choices resonating far more powerfully with the English media than any ill-fated pre-tournament predictions can.
The England manager's inclusion of so many young, exciting talents at the expense of older, more experienced players such as Michael Carrick and Ashley Cole is a clear statement of his intent for his team to really impose themselves upon their World Cup opponents when the action starts next month in Brazil.
Also, a positive, perhaps unexpected, by-product of Hodgson pinning his hopes on the young shoulders of the new, fearless generation is that they will probably escape the same intense scrutiny and expectation of the English media and fans alike.
There finally seems to be a realisation among both the press and the public that this young team is not a panacea for the national sides’ problems at big tournaments, or an instant recipe for success at the World Cup.
Gone is the huge burden of expectation for success in Brazil, in its place a sense of hope that this team can at least doing themselves justice when the action begins in earnest in June.
There is a quiet understanding and a sense of realism that whilst this young team is full of exciting and creative talent, it will take time to nurture them into a fully functioning team fit for purpose at the business end of the big tournaments.
Whilst England may not win the tournament, the balance between youth and experience can yield relative success at the 2014 World Cup.
The boundless energy and enthusiasm of youth is a potent mix and cause for a renewed sense of optimism among the England fans. Forget results, purely in terms of performance, previous England sides have flattered to deceive when it really matters, but this young team should be able to perform without the crippling fear of failure that has paralysed many of the older, more experienced sides of the past.
That the new generation of talent is disabused of the detritus that has been many a past campaign at major tournaments is a significant factor that cannot be understated.
The addition of the array of creative, attack minded talent such as Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana, Jack Wilshire and Daniel Sturridge will allow England to abandon their laborious brand of football in favour of a more expansive, proactive style of play.
Unlike the battle scarred old guard of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole to name a few, the aforementioned young players are new to the scene and are not plagued by past failures of previous sides, and thus will play without inhibition, eager to impress and express themselves on football’s greatest stage.
Sure, this current incarnation of the England team may not be able to play the ‘Beautiful Game’ as fluently as some of the other contenders in Brazil, but they have enough talent at their disposal to be more progressive and less pragmatic in their style of play.
Hogdson now has the personnel with the type of technical ability that will allow his team to seize the initiative and dictate the tempo in games as opposed to constantly worrying about the weaknesses in his side and tirelessly trying to negate the strengths of their opponents.
Of course they must attack and defend with an element of caution against the truly top teams. But there is enough quality in the squad to ensure that England’s attacking instincts are not overly compromised by a defensive conservatism that has characterised previous England tournament teams.
The England boss has already said that he is not taking any young players to the World Cup just for the ‘experience’ and his bold statements must be backed by up his brave actions when the tournament starts.
As much as I hate to say to say it, being a proud Scotsman and all, this young English side might just be ready to turn some of the familiar pre-tournament rhetoric into reality by finally letting their talent do the talking at the World Cup in Brazil.
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