Another World Cup and more heartbreak for England, this time suffering group stage elimination.
Once again, the national team built up the nation’s expectation, only for it to come crashing down in the games against Italy and Uruguay respectively.
Consecutive 2-1 defeats knocked Roy Hodgson’s side out of a tournament where they didn’t once lead a game of football. But what could the former Liverpool boss have done differently?
One potential solution to his problems had his 6”2 frame perched on the bench for the majority of the campaign, only getting a couple of minutes of game time in the Uruguay contest.
That’s right, Rickie Lambert could have had a positive impact on England’s attacking adventures, had he been given longer to exhibit is ability.
The big striker arrived in Brazil following a fairly consistent season with Southampton, and even scored with his first touch in international football when he made his debut against Scotland last summer.
And while he was rightfully omitted to include Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney in the starting XI, being quicker on the trigger with substitutions may have allowed Steven Gerrard and his side to maintain the 1-1 draws they briefly held in their opening two fixtures.
Aside from being a target man to pump the ball up to, Lambert is technically astute with the ball at his feet as well. A great passing range – combined with his heading ability – would have made him a good match alongside the likes of Rooney or Sturridge.
It was disappointing not to see him feature at all in the final group game against Costa Rica, as such, it is unlikely we will ever see the Liverpool forward at another international tournament.
The 32-year-old was playing League 1 football when the last World Cup was staged in South Africa, making his inclusion in this year’s squad even more remarkable.
But he has justified selection with his all-round game. Having a 100% record from the 34 penalties he took for Southampton, England fans would have been confident if he stepped up to take a spot kick.
None of this was to come to fruition though, as he spent his time in Brazil waiting for a call, which only came in the dying minutes against Uruguay.
England’s players – despite only procuring one point – gave a good account of themselves in Brazil, but the effort they exerted would have been more than equalled by a proud Lambert.
His desire and aerial ability would certainly have aided England in the final third. At times, when they were becoming frustrated in their build-up play, the presence of the former Saints striker could have been a target for Leighton Baines to whip balls towards.
As it transpired, Hodgson kept faith with Sturridge – who did score in the opening game. But we will never know what impact Lambert could have had on the 2014 World Cup, if only he was given more time on the pitch.
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