We are all too quick to criticise England when results and performances are not
what we expect them to be.
However, many teams have failed to qualify and would love to be in our position right now, so let's rejoice at our qualification for the 2014 World Cup after an encouraging display in the 2-0 victory over Poland at Wembley last night.
By no means am I advocating England winning the World Cup but they have a basis to build a very good, competitive squad for years to come. Below I look at five reasons why I believe we should be positive about the future for England.
Roy Hodgson put his faith in the youngster and he was fully repaid by two outstanding games from the Tottenham winger. There were no signs of nerves and his youthful exuberance and obvious pace and skill has already endeared him to England supporters. Townsend has two very good feet and is never frightened to unleash a shot on goal. He is a breath of fresh air for our national side.
He has proven that his loan move from Tottenham to QPR last season was the right thing to do and despite playing in a struggling side he shone brightly. He could play on both wings which gives Hodgson flexibility and Tottenham may well have a perfect replacement now for Gareth Bale. His two appearances look to have cemented his place on the plane to Brazil and the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon may well be fearing for their World Cup places now.
Rooney and Sturridge
The pair seem to be developing a good understanding are now England's preferred pairing up front. They are both in good form for their club sides and their confidence is clear to see. Some of their touches did not come off but they are still willing to try which is a credit to them both and they are both very capable of holding the ball up and linking the play with the midfielders.
The era of having a big man/little man partnership looks to be over as English football finally moves into the 21st Century. Wayne Rooney appears to thrive every-time he pulls on his England jersey and his performances are now very consistent for his country.
Added to this he keeps finding the back of the net and if he continues to do so he will fast become England's record goalscorer of all-time. Sturridge's move from Chelsea to Liverpool in January has proved to be excellent for him. He is now playing in his favourite position for club and country and the benefits are clear to see. If he could become a little less wasteful in front of goal then he could be a truly exceptional player.
Who said the Premier League is stunting the growth of the national team? Roy Hodgson has good strength in most areas of the pitch and healthy competition can only be good for the team's future.
There are some very experienced players in the England side, such as Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard but the fact that only five of last night's starting line-up have played for England in a tournament shows the changing face of our team. Leighton Baines is seriously challenging Ashley Cole for the left back spot and with the likes of
Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley waiting in the wings even the most experienced players need to up their game. Andros Townsend has already proven what he can do.
At all levels England have some quality potential young stars. Ravel Morrison, who starred for the Under 21s last night, could be an outside bet for a World Cup spot if his form continues. There is always one player who makes a last ditch claim for a spot so there is still a lot to play for.
Jagielka and Cahill
The centre-back pairing are developing a good understanding which is due to the minutes they are playing together on the pitch. Since Rio Ferdinand and John Terry have departed the international scene Jagielka and Cahill appear to have been given the nod and their performances have been solid so far.
Both are top players for their respective Premier League clubs but now need to develop their game for internationals where they will invariably come up against top strikers regularly. They were caught out on occasions against Poland but they have time in front of them and years to develop a greater understanding.
Barring injury I fully expect them to be Hodgson's preferred partnership in Brazil. England have always had top centre-backs in their side and these two look set to continue this trend.
Last, but not least, the manager himself. First and foremost he has achieved his objective of ensuring England qualify for the World Cup which was what he was asked to do. More than that he must a sense of personal satisfaction as he has overcome negativities about his appointment and his style of play and the last two games have proven that he is not the stereotypical, dour England manager.
Tactically he is very aware but he is not against taking a risk every now and again. He has shown he has a Plan B and that is credit to him. He took a risk on Andros Townsend and it worked, his critics may call it luck but many managers before him would never have even taken that risk. He is quite happy to throw youngsters in to a match and he is doing his best to give the most promising ones exposure at international level.
There are signs that England are more comfortable on the ball in recent games. They are trying to keep the ball in possession like many of the top International teams do and they are starting to recognise when they need to increase the tempo in dangerous areas of the pitch.
The patience and build up to the first goal against Poland was testament to that. I can see a real shift in attitude from the England players in the last two games and Hodgson should be commended for that.
Hopefully now England can push on from their Poland display and take the positives from the game. As a group they are all learning together and will go to Brazil with confidence. Winning the World Cup is still only a dream but let's enjoy the tournament in the summer and get behind Roy Hodgson and his squad.
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