The press is saying it, the pundits are saying it and the fans are saying it, England will not win this World Cup in Brazil. The negativity surrounding the team is at an all-time high ever since they didn’t make the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship. Roy Hodsgon came out after their 2-0 victory against Poland to qualify for the World cup saying ‘The important thing is we are there. We know it is going to be a very tough task, especially in Brazil where a European team has never succeeded before.’ The England coach has already played down his teams own chances by saying no European team has won in the Country.
Greg Dyke, the new Football Association chairman has also come out and said ‘I don’t think anyone realistically thinks we (England) are going to win the World Cup in Brazil.’ For the new chairman to come out and basically say England have zero chance to win the competition, the side must be in a bad way.
Hope for England though is the new eight year plan, where Greg Dyke has said he has two targets for the England team ‘One, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.’ So the nation are going forward to the Brazil World Cup and not expecting to go far, where many say that reaching the quarter finals would be ‘realistic.’
So, for this World Cup, for a team which has no expectations whatsoever and people seem to just be happy they are in the competition, why doesn’t Roy Hodgson use this to his advantage and bring out a squad set on transition? It would follow greatly within Greg Dykes plan of reaching the 2022 Qatar final and it would give the players much needed experience.
The squad which was called up for the remaining World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland on 11th and 15th of October had six players over the age of thirty in a twenty three man squad. Almost a quarter of the squad is over the age of thirty and if all six of those players were to start that would be over half the team. To add to the age issue, none of the goalkeepers chosen are over thirty, only the outfield players.
Three players over thirty started against Montenegro with one coming on midway through the second half. Against Poland it was the same result.
An interesting point, the average age of the current England squad is 25.9 years old, rounded up to 26. A very good age you would think, but with four players out of eleven playing for England in the last two games being over thirty, are the young players really being given a chance? And with Ashley Cole (32) and Joleon Lescott (31) both out of the squad but likely to come back in, that would leave two players under the age of thirty back out of the starting 11.
Roy Hodgson as of late though has been adding youth to the squad with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20), Jack Wilshere (21), Andros Townsend (22), Ross Barkley (19) and Raheem Sterling (18) recently been included in the squad. The latest squad has eleven players under 25 to boast, with four players starting against Montenegro and Poland and one coming on as a substitute in both games.
So, that’s three players over thirty starting with four players under 25 starting in both games, coming to a total of 7 out of 11 players starting these games, a mixture of both youth and experience is a great thing to have, but with a World Cup coming up with what it seems as a nothing to play for tournament, should experience be starting?
To start a transition, you would need to drop the older players and start to bring in the youth, with one of the players, Steven Gerrard, un-droppable due to captaincy, that would leave five other players (Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard, Phil Jagielka, Rickie Lambert and Jermaine Defoe) be in the firing line for the World Cup squad announcement in July.
Including Ashley Cole and Joleon Lescott in the potential squad to perform in Brazil, that’s eight players over the age of thirty currently playing regularly for England. Personally, you should take a maximum of four players over the age of thirty and start only two, that way nine players under that age can start, to start a transition.
With Steven Gerrard as England’s captain the other player selected to start, personally would be Phil Jagielka, many would disagree, claiming Ashley Cole is more than capable to currently play, but with Leighton Baines (28) at the peak of his age in football terms should really be given the role of left back. With the back four, you always need experience, so adding Phil Jagielka (31) will give that experience needed. Also, with Jagielka being club captain for Everton, it shows leadership qualities desperately needed for a defense.
The other two players which should be taken are Ashley Cole and Michael Carrick, both have played at the highest level for club and country and both have won at the highest level for club. They would add much needed experience for both defense and midfield respectively. If England were leading in a match with fifteen minutes to go, to bring on Cole and Carrick to calm down and lead England through would be a fantastic option to have on the bench.
The three other players (Frank Lampard, Rickie Lambert and Jermaine Defoe) should be phased out with immediate effect. Frank Lampard (35) has had an fantastic career and will go down as one of the greatest midfielders Chelsea have had, but at 35 years old, he has to accept that he isn’t the player he was when he was at his peak, as any player should when they reach that age. To help the team move forward from the ‘Golden Generation’ players like Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard need to be phased out (the latter two of the three should consider retiring after the World Cup to help the team further.)
The two players of Rickie Lambert (31) and Jermaine Defoe (31) are seen as ‘squad players’ and personally, squad players should be youth so they can gain that much needed experience when their time is called and are included in the squad.
Two places are currently free for the World Cup squad, if it was to stay the way it currently is. With Rickie Lambert and Jermaine Defoe being excluded from the squad a forward player is needed for the current squad, and if fit, Andy Carroll (24) should be included in the squad, a strong center forward, similar to Rickie Lambert’s style of play would be what England need as a ‘plan b.’ If injured, Gary Hooper should seriously be considered for the England squad. At 25 years old, he is still a young player but with 393 games played, it shows he has a lot of experience, and with 175 goals to boast that makes a record of 2.2 matches per goal, a great record for any striker.
To complete the 23 man squad, another player is needed to replace Jermaine Defoe, with the strikers England have to offer, they should look to using his place in the squad for a player who needs to learn the game at the highest level and should look to add Jordan Henderson for that role. He’s currently played every game for Liverpool so far this season and captained England u21’s poor showing at the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship in Israel.
Although he has played five times for England’s senior side, the last time he was to play for England is the defeat (well, penalty shootout defeat) to Italy at the recent European Championship on the 24th of June 2012. A player perfect to study under Steven Gerrard and Michael Carrick in terms of how to play the game at the highest level could work brilliantly for himself.
To sum up England’s World Cup chances is bleak, and with the whole nation knowing it, Roy Hodgson needs to make a plan for the future and using the biggest competition in the World football as his demonstration, actions would truly speak louder than words.