Going into the 2014 World Cup there was little pressure for England to truly succeed. However, the majority of Three Lions fans believe we should have gone further than an embarrassment of being beaten in the group by both Italy and Uruguay.
In fact, when looking at the strength of the squad one would be forgiven for assuming we could have gone on to have done exceptionally well. Alas this was not so and it is, in my opinion, for the following reasons.
Steven Gerrard has long been one of England’s golden boys, immune from any form of criticism under pain of barrage – everybody will fight to defend him because he is a one club man who has, at times, been genuinely world class.
However he has less to show for his career than he should – with Manchester United’s Anderson having a far more impressive medal collection. Gerrard simply has not once proven he can really handle real pressure – his best patches coming when playing in a team surrounded by Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina and Jamie Carragher.
This highlighted most evidently in his ‘slip’ against Chelsea, arguably losing Liverpool the title. A similar situation arose in the game against Uruguay, he missed a tackle
on the half way line – Luis Suarez scores; he heads a ball that didn’t need heading straight through to Suarez, dissecting the defence as if he was wearing a blue shirt, Suarez scores.
I put it to you that he simply is not good enough to be a central figure in the England team. Yes you may argue he gets impressive passing stats but it is what he does with it – not a lot – which gets him these figures.
He was also in charge of the majority of set pieces, with some shocking free kicks and a whole match of useless deep corners from the first game all he had to show for it – we saw with Rooney’s one free-kick how effective he can be and if you are to Leighton Baines in the team, surely he should have been a more readily used option.
Stevie simply is there due to the farce surrounding him, or should
I say the wish for him to be a world beater, a dream that no matter how many
desire, he cannot live up too.
Another area which lost us our games was Hodgson’s apparent inability to understand any form of footballing tactic.
Playing against Italy, anybody who knows the players they had could have told
you exactly what that team was going to do – Claudio Marchisio and Antonio Candreva were going to move in to create space and Balotelli was going to run in behind.
England line up without a true defensive midfielder, allowing all the space between the
lines that the Italians needed. Gerrard was too slow to defend against them and
Henderson was running the other way so much that he was hard struck to get back
The second key flaw in this game was his choice of Left-Back. Baines,
simply, was not even nearly quick enough; and nor was Rooney. Whilst Rooney
works back, Darmian was too quick for him and Wayne spent more time watching Candreva.
Baines then was often left in no mans land without the pace
to get where he needed to be nor the defensive know-how – something which could
have been provided by Shaw or Cole respectively.
The third key decision was to play Rooney, a player who works best in a front two, on the left – a decision which arguably cost us the match.
Against Uruguay we were better but still not good enough – a more solid 4-4-2 with Rooney and Daniel Sturridge up front with perhaps Milner involved would have been an easier way to go about the game, offering us defensive stability.
Again in this match Gerrard was all over the place unable to cope with Uruguay when their attacking players dropped deep – our defence was not much better with Jagielka looking shaky and Baines again not offering much going backwards.
A final reason I look to highlight is that of an overall poor attitude. As I already mentioned, there was little to no pressure on England going into the tournament with what arguably could be described as a far stronger squad than that which went to South Africa.
Where was the passion of belief from English fans and footballing commentators; England efinitely have some of the best young players in the world, capable of competing with those from Germany or Spain, there should have been pressure which at the least would have prepared them for that which will undoubtedly be there in 2016 and 2018.
Furthermore, the poor attitude of the players in their mental approach. Adam Lallana stating that he believed Uruguay should be scared of England. A team with Muslera, Godin, Suarez and Cavani needn’t be scared of anyone.
This attitude is truly awful – they should have been modest in their approach knowing that Suarez and Cavani can score from anywhere and any team with Godin and Muslera at the back are going to be exceptionally hard to break down and score against.
On the whole, there were a number of factors that affected England – not only those which I have mentioned here. To put it simply we should have done better and undoubtedly we will all be back in 2018 praying for better things to come. Come on England.
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