So after two games England are eliminated from the World Cup. Some have overreacted to the news and some have been too understated but there is no denying that it’s disappointing despite the supposed “low expectations” put on the squad.
So where did it all go wrong?
Admittedly England faced two good international sides that they couldn’t quite beat who ultimately lost to a plucky Costa Rice team that’s not only knocked them out but will knock out one of Uruguay and Italy too. In the Italy game England showed promise but lacked in key areas, they allowed Andrea Pirlo to dictate and poor defending combined with a lack of creativity led to their downfall.
The issue was they didn’t learn from the first game and improve, in fact they seemed to take a step back. The team looked more nervous than before in a must-win game, they created even fewer chances other than set pieces and their defending for the Uruguayan goals was simply inexcusable.
However, overall in the tournament the team weren’t as bad as people want to make out, the issue was the team were average and never played at a higher level. The defence was average but was supposed to be supplemented by an exciting attack but they didn’t create, no support from an anonymous midfield and they couldn’t take all their chances when they did come.
Who’s to blame?
It’s a combination of them all having to take the brunt of it this time, as mentioned above the players could have given a better account of themselves but it also falls on Roy Hodgson’s head that he never got the side ticking. The central duo of Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson played nothing like they have done for Liverpool which partly falls on them but that also comes from the direction of the manager who couldn’t get the best out of them.
He also decided early on to play Wayne Rooney, the player with the most pressure on his shoulders, out of position and not show him the faith that he needed. It was a mistake, Italy were rubbing their hands and his head wasn’t fully in the game having not being given the confidence by the manager to play where he influences the game the best. This was a fatal mistake, it’s something other players would have picked up and if Hodgson is to continue he needs to resurrect that. Granted that might be a little touchy from Rooney but management is all about dealing with personalities like this and he failed to do so.
Tactically he didn’t quite make the grade either. The “adventure” some have clinged onto never quite materialised, he played the right players but put them in a still conservative style as to attempt to avoid defeat rather than win. Without the support of a rushing central midfielder which Henderson can do, stilted the attacking flair and whilst Gerrard is excused as a defensive midfielder at Liverpool because of their attack, he was exposed so emitting players like Gareth Barry should be seen as a mistake too.
So where can they go from here?
Some players will be moved on now for youth and the key for the team now is to re-tool and build during the qualifying rounds so that when they come to Euro 2016 in France they are experienced in the system. The defence should be the starting point, like all great teams defending is key and giving the young players like Luke Shaw and Phil Jones a chance will give England the opportunity to build a strong, young back line.
Then the midfield needs to be fixed ideal-wise, there might be a change in personnel but the issue is getting them to play cohesively that helps both the defence and the offence. Then we need to trust in the forwards we have to push us to the limit. Rooney and Sturridge as the figureheads then wide options in Sterling, Lalana, Welbeck, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlin giving us plenty of options before picking the ideal pair.Some other youngsters will come into the fold like Ross Barkley who could play as the more attacking centre midfielder and the prospect that players like him improving is exciting.
What needs to be taken is that the international scene has improved dramatically over the past few years and England need to improve with the times. They were never too far off in the games we’ve played and despite the anger there are positives to take, now they need to keep evolving and we can do well come the European Championships.