Every four years a wave of expectations grab England in a bear hug which engulfs almost every other person from the bylanes of London to the deserted streets of Tyneside. The World Cup 2014 which is just over a fortnight away is expected to churn out similar thoughts, feelings and raise great expectations for the eleven playing on the glittering Sambaland, one wonders if the cycle of ‘failings’ continues all over again.
Dumped out of the World Cup in 2010 by Germany after a legitimate Frank Lampard goal not given, it was perhaps rubbing salt in the wounds after the dreaded penalty shootout against Portugal in 2006 in Germany when almost the entire World ridiculed the protagonists of the game. If you wonder England always under performs or rather I should say loses every time they take the World Cup read the following extract from the wonderful book every football fan must have in their hands, Soccernomics the gem of a piece scripted by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. Like the cover says it’s well worth a read if any English football fan; essentially, you overvalue your football heritage and undervalue the benefits of innovation.
- The English Premiere League doesn’t employ enough English players, thereby allowing too many foreigners to gain high-level experience at the expense of native lads.
- The English players in the EPL are too exhausted after the long season (although foreign EPL players are apparently exempt from such exhaustion).
- English technique is simply inferior to other squads’, whether the Germans’ hyper-organization or the South Americans’ run-and-gun; but, having invented the game, England still thinks its technique is supreme.
- English fans and media expect too much and thereby create too much pressure. (That might explain why Wayne Rooney and all the rest seemed scared to even take a shot in the Algeria draw in 2010.)
More on Soccernomics later. Today we take a look at England’s best possible starting eleven for the World Cup, this time in Brazil.
Joe Hart remains the first choice and will definitely take his place under the bar against Italy in the Three Lions’ opening encounter against European runners up and one of the major title contenders Italy. Cesare Prandelli has instilled a new belief on the Azzurri’s who are willing to shed their history suggesting ‘boring’ football to an attacking brand of style and substance. A tricky group for England might well see them crashing out in the group stages, one in which Joe Hart will have a busy time in the Latin America heat.
Glen Johnson should be deployed at right back by Uncle Roy, who seems to revel his players in a 4-4-2 setup. Leighton Baines should be given the nod ahead of Luke Shaw for the left back slot. Phil Jagielka should certainly take his place alongside Gary Cahill in the heart of the defense even if Manchester United’s Phil Jones is deemed fit. Cahill has been a revelation under Jose Mourinho this season for Chelsea, and Hodgson should be hoping he could replicate his league form with the three lions. The heart of the defense will come severe scrutiny especially against Uruguay who have a devastating top three up front in attacking boasting the likes of Forlan, Suarez and Cavani.
This is where the game would be won or lost by England. A lot of tactical variations have bee talked about over the past few weeks relating Hodgson to tweak his tactics and experiment in the tournament to adapt themselves according to the opposition. However, I believe rather than adjusting to their opponents, England need to be proactive right throughout the tournament. A 4-4-2 diamond suits England the best and given the options they have in their squad. Steven Gerrard should play in his familiar quarter back role he has taken up for Liverpool this season while wither of Jordan Henderson or Jack Wilshere wide right alongside Adam Lallana on the other flank.
I would however prefer Henderson given his immense work rate and valuable covering up and driving abilities. Raheem Sterling plays a key role in my setup, at the top of the diamond, constantly harassing the opposition with his trickery, intelligence and raw pace.
Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney should lead the attack but the Liverpool-United pair need to make sure they complement the other up front. Rooney will continuously drop deep to be the bridge between midfield and attack and also aid Sterling to run directly at the opposition defense by dragging defenders out of position. If however the system doesn’t work, Hodgson can be expected to go for a single striker in an attempt to overload the midfield in a 4-5-1 system.
Talks on tactics, fables and history would continue but can England finally bust the quarter final myth?