When your best result in a World Cup is a 0-0 draw against an already qualified Costa Rica, you know you’ve fucked up massively. Let’s not sugar coat it, England’s performance in Brazil was nothing short of shambolic.
On the face of it, we could make the excuse that we were in a Group of Death with Uruguay and Italy being formidable opponents. In all honesty, the Italians came into the tournament on the back of a 7 game winless run and were eliminated without much fuss along with England. The Uruguayans were there for the taking, but a barely fit Luis Suarez was allowed to sink his gnashers into both Italy and England. As for Costa Rica, the opportunity to prove a point was clearly lost on the players that faced them in our final group game. Contrast that with the footballing powerhouses Bosnia, who pulled off a 3-1 win when they were already dumped out.
There were many fingers pointed throughout the tournament at individual players, but the truth is collectively the team were very poor. From the minute they stepped on the pitch, they failed to show any passion during the anthems and matched this limp effort on the pitch too. Having enjoyed the best season from Liverpool in a long time, I was shocked to see several of the key players from that team looking lost and restricted.
Roy Hodgson seems to have coached the free flowing attacking football style from these players and several others as we were barely able to mount an offensive spell of play at times. Sure we had our moments, but it was never sustained and we never looked secure defensively at any time. Even the weather was kind at times and this didn’t seem to help the team play at a high enough tempo. It’s even more frustrating when you see relative footballing minnows such as Nigeria, Chile and Colombia advance playing exciting attacking football.
We put our stars on a pedestal, but the truth is we seriously lack truly world class players. We don’t have a magical talent that can win a game on his own or play a spellbinding pass. I’ve heard many say we have the players, but if that is really the case, why is it that none of the England players ply their trade at a top foreign club? The answer is simple, our players are just not good enough. Are Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill top level centre backs? Not a chance, we left our best defender John Terry at home. Are Baines and Johnson able to cope defensively against the better sides? Again, not a chance. United fans may plead the case for Rooney, Arsenal fans for Wilshere and Liverpool fans for Sturridge, but the reality is none of these players would get into a Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich side.
So where are the positives? I’m genuinely not sure. We were banging on about the young players such as Sterling, Barkley and Shaw, but they had little impact on the tournament. Will they be able to impact on future tournaments with Roy Hodgson still in charge? My biggest fear is that nations who were nowhere on the footballing map 10 years ago are growing stronger, whilst England are growing weaker. If we can’t solve our problems, even simple qualification for the major tournaments may prove to be out of reach for our nation’s ‘finest.’