With the World Cup less than a month away, England fans can be quietly confident with a youthful and exuberant squad going into the first match against Italy. However, the one and most key ingredient that England are missing is the influx of world-class players.
The stellar performances of Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale, Seamus Coleman and David Marshall to name a few have caught the eye of many, but they unfortunately will not be playing World Cup football this summer.
So that raises the thought of how good England could be if they had the likes of Bale and Ramsey in their ranks. The answer is very simple, they would surely be a much better team.
Bale raised many eyebrows with the huge £86 million that Real Madrid paid for his services and pressure was immediately on him to prove his enormous worth. The Welshman did not disappoint, with 22 goals in 48 matches and the all important second goal to win 'La Decima' in the Champions League for Real Madrid being the highlights in a debut season to remember in Spain.
What England are really missing going into Brazil, due to the serious injury sustained to Theo Walcott, is an attacking player who can really hurt some of the best defences in the world. Bale is certainly the player that is the answer to this problem with his undoubted pace and skill.
Ramsey's performances for Arsenal this season has not only shown his already proven energy and tenacity from midfield, but also his eye for a killer pass and his much improved finishing ability.
His return of 16 goals in all competitions, made even more impressive considering his three month injury lay-off, has turned out to be a drastic change in fortunes for the former Cardiff man.
When people look at England's midfield, they see experience (Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard), youth (Ross Barkley, Jordan Henderson) and skill (Adam Lallana, Jack Wilshere). However, with Lampard and Gerrard playing much deeper holding roles these days, England seem to be lacking a midfielder who is really going to run from deep and pop up with vital goals when needed most.
Ramsey's performances have proven that he is more than fit for the role.
In addition, Coleman and James McCarthy of Everton and Republic of Ireland and Marshall of Cardiff and Scotland would undoubtedly push for places in the England sides also due to their impressive showings in the Premier League this season.
Ireland can rightly be seen as an exception but the point is valid, if Great Britain wants to taste success in the World Cup again then this should be something that is brought into consideration.
Many might see this as one country stealing another's best players but other nations in other sports have shown that the method of one land, one nation, can work.
In the Olympics, there is no England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. It's Team GB that is represented at arguably the biggest sporting event in the world. A major factor in Great Britain's success in Beijing and in London has perhaps been the fact that the team can have a wider competition of athletes due to it not just being narrowed down to athletes from England. In short, the more athletes mean the more talent and therefore the more chance of success.
It is the same in rugby but on a smaller scale. Ireland are one nation. It is not Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. It is Ireland. The success and performances that the Irish rugby team have had over the past year alone has been superb.
The narrow 22-24 loss to the All Blacks in November, which has been called one of the best matches in the history of the sport, and the famous Six Nations win earlier this year have raised Ireland's profile as a rugby heavyweight. What's more, the cohesion between northern and southern Ireland has improved its nation's rugby hugely and they can fancy their chances of going far in the World Cup next year.
So one must surely wonder why it can't be done in football.
Due to the game's fanatical status and following throughout the world, every nation cannot be blamed for wanting a shot at the big time. Wales' and Scotland's failures to qualify for major tournaments on a consistent basis despite certain talents in their squads show that it is going to be difficult to achieve success. If it is success that they want to achieve however, then they should perhaps consider reaching it in a different way.
With the lack of world class ability in England's squad at the moment, it would surely not be a question of bias towards English players if England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland join as one nation. With the likes of Ramsey, Bale, Ashley Williams and Marshall waiting in the wings, the competition for places would only be higher and therefore the chance of success could only get larger.
With England having low expectations going into Brazil 2014 and players of the huge talent of Ramsey and Bale only watching the World Cup unfold, the idea of a single Great Britain footballing nation representing at major tournaments could well become a more and more popular idea in the years to come.
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