England geared for failure before World Cup?

2014-05-31 14:08

London – Never before have England travelled to a World Cup better prepared – for the post-tournament inquest.

The search for answers to England’s long-standing struggles began while the team coached by Roy Hodgson were still qualifying for their fifth straight World Cup.

As Hodgson prepared for Brazil, a Football Association commission concluded in early May that England’s World Cup hopes would be hampered by the limited opportunities for homegrown players in the Premier League.

England’s World Cup excuses are in earlier than ever before.

“We are limited because some of the players we’d like to choose, and have chosen in the qualifying games, aren’t always regulars in their team’s starting lineup,” Hodgson said.

Just advancing from a group containing Italy and Uruguay would be an achievement. Even FA chairperson Greg Dyke responded to the draw in December with a throat-slitting action that was caught on camera.

Four-time world champions Italy, who beat England in the 2012 European Championship quarterfinals, is first up in humid Manaus, followed by 2010 semifinalist Uruguay in a Sao Paulo stadium that is as much a work in progress as the England team itself.

By the time England travel to Belo Horizonte to face Costa Rica, the engines might already be warming up on the runway for the return home.

England did go through qualifying unbeaten, but there was scarce encouragement from uninspiring performances with little attacking penetration.

It hasn’t been much better in World Cup warmups, with losses to Germany and Chile followed by an arduous 1-0 win over Denmark.

Hodgson desperately needs Wayne Rooney, one of football’s top earners at Manchester United, to justify his star billing.

The match-turning moments of brilliance in the penalty area Rooney can conjure for United have been absent too often on international duty, especially when it comes to World Cups. Rooney failed to score at the last two tournaments in Germany and SA.

“Maybe once or twice in the past, he hasn’t exploded as maybe he has on our national stage, where we all accept him as being an outstanding player,” Hodgson said.

“This is your chance,” Hodgson added in a direct appeal to Rooney.

“This is the world stage, the perfect opportunity for him to prove to people in the world what we already know, that he is a very, very gifted footballer.”

While Rooney could arrive in Brazil a frustrated figure following a surprisingly miserable season with United, Liverpool exceeded expectations by finishing second – and England could reap the rewards.

Captain Steven Gerrard is one of five Liverpool players in the squad, including winger Raheem Sterling (19) and striker Daniel Sturridge.

Hodgson has also profited from Southampton’s impressive season utilising homegrown players, showing there are top flight opportunities for such talent without the FA overhauling the structure of English football.

Forward Rickie Lambert, midfielder Adam Lallana and defender Luke Shaw only made their international debuts in the last year.

Lallana (26), with his intelligent and energetic moves, has presented a strong case to start in Brazil.

“He’s been an underrated player for many years,” Hodgson said of Lallana, who has risen with Southampton from the third division to the Premier League.

“It’s an unfortunate truth if you want to get recognised at the top level you have to be playing at the top level.”

But some of the best English players won’t necessarily be at the World Cup.

Hodgson didn’t beg former captain John Terry to end a self-imposed international exile instigated by a domestic ban for racist abuse, and leftback Ashley Cole (33) retired from England duty after being overlooked in favour of Shaw (18).

In doing so, Hodgson has overlooked past contributions to take one of England’s youngest-ever squads to a World Cup, providing hope that it won’t be a complete embarrassment in Brazil.

“It’s not going to be like sometimes it’s been in the past that loyalty can be rewarded,” Hodgson said.

“You’ve got to be on the plane because I believe you have a role to play.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.