In the wake of England’s miserable World Cup, Mark Darby gets out his crystal ball and looks at how the team might line up for Brazil 2014.
So England have failed again. By the time you read this, at least one red top will have called for “Don Fabio” to go back to Italy. England need to take a look at the reasons their style of play does not work at international football. A formation change would not make a difference as the players fail to perform the most basic task: keep the ball.
In the Premier League, where the whole England team plays, possession does not really matter. More than likely, you will get the ball back in the next few minutes as the other team can’t keep hold of it either. Players cannot keep the ball as they are afraid of it. Looking at teams from South America and teams like Spain and Germany, every player from one to eleven is able to keep the ball and is confident with it at their feet. The fault of this lies in the coaching methods in the UK. Players who are obviously gifted with the ball are forced out wide, or not encouraged enough. Think about it yourself. If you go to any childrens’ match you will see the odd gifted player. If he tries to take on a few players, he will be shouted at and told “Don’t lose it, don’t be greedy”. The child will be derided if he loses possession. In the aforementioned countries players like that are encouraged and told to play more, with no fear if the ball is lost. In another country, a player like Cole or even Carrick would have a team built around them. This never happens in England. Until this changes, I don’t see England succeeding in any international tournament.
Where can they go from here? One option would be to try to develop a team properly, to almost forgo the next European Championships. If England decide to focus on building a team for the World Cup in 2014, they may have a chance. They have never won the European Championships so why not use it almost as training camp for the World Cup?
In goal, Joe Hart needs to start. He hasn’t got the experience but he isn’t going to get it on the bench for his country. By the time the next World Cup comes around he’ll be 27 and well able to cope.
For left back, Ashley Cole remains. He is one of Englands few world class players. He’ll be 33 in 2014 but should be still good enough. Kieron Gibbs will be a good understudy by then. Right back will remain Johnson. He is suspect and can be dodgy at times, but he is a true attacking full back which can be vital at international level.
The two centre back positions will be held by Michael Dawson and Chris Smalling. Dawson has proved to be a quality centre back. Smalling hasn’t played that much but enough for Sir Alex Ferguson to splash out a lot of money on the 20 year old. He will have surely played many times for United by then and will more than likely have European experience too.
In midfield, there are two deep lying central midfielders in Milner and Rodwell. Milner has proved to be a true box to box player in the Premier League this year. He can be England’s new engine, and will hopefully have learned from the mistakes of Lampard and Gerrard who haven’t worked together. Rodwell is a true talent and a great passer of the ball. Strong, able to pick a pass, go past players and score, and he can also keep the ball.
Ahead of these two are a trio of Aaron Lennon on the right, Adam Johnson on the left and Jack Wilshire in the middle. They pace and trickery of the two wingers are invaluable at international level. If used correctly, pace can destroy teams and Lennon has it in abundance. Johnson isn’t as quick but he can beat a man easily and deliver a great ball. Wilshire is a player that doesn’t come around often. He sees the game in his head, two or three passes ahead of others. This is a player a team should be built around.
Up front on his own is Rooney, who needs no description. He wasn’t great this year at the World Cup, but his ability is undoubted.
It leaves you with a team like this -