Since 1966, the perception surrounding England’s famous World Cup triumph has
changed considerably. More specifically, it has gradually become a large and significant cloud that hangs over every major tournament that England enter, rather than a source of inspiration for the nation’s proud players.
This year may see a breakthrough performance by England, however, as their young and fearless squad enters the tournament under the experienced guidance of manager Roy Hodgson. Disproportionate expectation has been replaced with quiet optimism, while under-performing superstars have had their place taken by skilful, hungry performers.
But what does this mean for England’s 2014 campaign? Will they disappoint once again or can they finally progress beyond the quarter final for the first time since 1990? Here are four factors that can inspire and drive England towards glory:
1. A mature performance from a fully fit Wayne Rooney
According to current Group D betting, England is odds on favourites to reach the knock-out stages. This is despite the persistent quality of Italy and the threat posed by a Luis Suarez-inspired Uruguay, so it appears as though the bookmakers have faith in England’s ability.
One telling factor could be the performance of talisman Wayne Rooney, who has flattered to deceive at every major tournament since his spectacular debut at the European Championships in 2004. Fully fit after intensive training in Portugal, this could finally be the tournament when he delivers. If he does, England may have an excellent chance of achieving success.
2. The translation of club form to the international stage
One of the key issues that have historically blighted England is that players have rarely been able to translate their club form to the international stage. Players such as Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart and the aforementioned Rooney have all struggled in major international tournaments, despite their excellent form when representing their clubs.
If these players and the likes of Gary Cahill can perform with the same spirit, focus and quality that they do when playing domestically, however, England will have an excellent chance of progressing deep into the tournament.
3. Utilising the ‘X-Factor' provided by young players
This squad is different to recent England teams, primarily because it is not bloated by
overpaid, underperforming stars. Instead, Roy Hodgson has decided to pick young and talented individuals based on the form that they have shown in the Premier League this season.
While the likes of Ross Barkely, Daniel Sturridge and the precocious Raheem Sterling may not be seasoned professionals, they are fearless in their approach and have the raw talent to elevate England to an entirely new level. These players are also relatively unknown, so they have the chance to catch their rivals off guard as they progress through the tournament.
4. Roy Hodgson’s calming influence
From Steve McLaren to Fabio Capello, England’s expensively assembled army of coaches have brought their own eccentricities and frailties to the role of manager in recent times. This has caused a host of issues at tournaments, as England have either been ill-disciplined or overly intense to deliver a consistent performance.
This is not the case under to stewardship of Roy Hodgson, however, who has used his experience and expertise to create a unified group of potential champions. With a more relaxed and focused approach, England may be better placed to cope with the pressures of tournament football and progress into the latter stages.
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