England's World Cup has come to an end, officially now, following their final group game against Cost Rica. The game ended in a dour 0-0 draw, fairly indicative of England right now. After the game, Roy Hodgson said he "couldn't have asked for a much better performance", but should we be accepting such mediocrity?
England: A team in transition
There is no doubt that England are going through a transition period, with the so-called 'Golden Generation' slowly starting to disappear, Roy Hodgson is trying to usher in a new era for English football. That started well with the bold squad choice for the World cup, leaving seasoned players like Defoe and Carrick at home and taking exciting youngsters like Shaw and Barkley.
However, having overseen England's worst performance at a World Cup finals since 1958 by only managing a solitary point, Hodgson's positive summary of the drab performance against Costa Rica seemed a bit odd. It is understandable that he wants the younger players who will be the core of the side for years to come to feel positive, but as fans we are hugely disappointed with the performances and must see an acceptance of that.
Look at Italy
Cesare Prandelli, the Italy manager, tendered his resignation following Italy's failure to qualify from the group stages. He did so with grace and humility by suggesting that he had put a tactical plan in place for the tournament which had not worked, therefore he must accept responsibility for that and resign. He is quoted as saying "when a professional project fails, it is right to take the responsibility.
I am certainly not saying that Roy Hodgson should necessarily resign, in fact I believe that he should be given a chance to continue the project that we like to believe he has put in place. However, as a fan it is not easy to hear the manager suggesting he was pleased with a performance in which England couldn't score against a team who had already qualified for the knockout stages.
Change in mentality required
It is widely accepted that England actually played well against Italy in their opening game, but real winners are never satisfied unless they win. A shift in mental attitude from England is essential, to refuse to accept anything less than a win and to go into every game believing that you can beat your opponent. That attitude comes directly from the top down and the manager needs to have that attitude. It is hard to think that Louis van Gaal would be satisfied with a 0-0 draw against a lower ranked team who rested several players for the next round.
The young players will have got valuable experience from this tournament, at the very least they will never want to feel like this again. Now is the time to put in considerable changes and attitude should be one of them. Start breeding hungry young players who will stop at nothing to win, and we are more likely to start winning games at this level.
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