With the start of their World Cup campaign just a number of hours away it got me thinking what this England Squad is actually capable of. On paper the English squad always appears to be up there with the very best however much like the South African cricket team (much to the disappointment of the webmaster I might add) they have a ridiculous record of choking on the big stage. In saying this the English faithful must have breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing that they are no chance of facing off against one Luiz Felipe Scolari. Big Phil was responsible for knocking the Three Lions out at the quarterfinal stage of the last 3 major tournaments they have been involved in (WC ’02 with Brazil as well as Euro ’04 and WC ’06 with Portugal). After the embarrassment of failing to qualify for Euro 2008, England were determined to prove a point during qualification and did so with 8 consecutive wins, making the road to South Africa quite comfortable with 27 out of 30 possible points. Perhaps more importantly than this they managed to regain some respect with 4-1 and 5-1 victories against Croatia, the side who had been responsible for keeping them out in ’08.
In doing some research I stumbled along an article that suggested that the English squad actually has the highest average age (only slightly, by .1 of a year) of all of the 32 nations competing. However this was before Michael Dawson replaced the injured Rio Ferdinand which has brought down the average age from 28.7 to 28.5 putting them in second position behind Brazil and only slightly ahead of our beloved Socceroos. Despite the fact that at 40, David James probably brings that average up quite a bit, it got me thinking that for a number of the English stars this is just about their last chance for international glory. Whilst most of them will probably still feature at the Euro ’12 championships (provided they qualify) nothing could compare to the lifting that little Gold Trophy and surely by 2014 a lot of them will be on the other side of their best footballing days. For the likes of Stevie G and Frank Lampard who have seen much success at club level, yet only tasted bitter disappointed time and time again for England, South Africa 2010 could be the best chance if not the last they get (you would expect at 34 and 36 respectively, WC ’14 will come a bit too late for both of them).
So realistically are England bringing the real deal to South Africa 2010? Can they finally after 44 years lift the trophy once more? Lets look at the Pro’s and Con’s..
- Capello – brings a wealth of experience to the side having achieved great success in both Italy and Spain, he is also England’s most successful international manager with a 75% win record almost 15% better than any previous manager
- No encounter with “Big Phil”
- Possibly the easiest route to the quarterfinal – simple group, followed by Serbia, Ghana or hopefully Socceroos in round of 16
- Quality squad with good depth and international experience
- A group of seriously determined men, ready to prove their worth on the biggest stage – potentially last chance for many and a chance to demand respect after rather disappointing previous results
- With skipper Ferdinand falling to the injury curse England still have two massively influential and inspiring leaders in the new captain, Stevie G and vice captain Franky Lamps – not to mention former skipper JT
- WAGS – if they’re anything like what we usually can expect from the English WAGS they can only be a distraction – although its no surprise, have you seen what they look like?! Crouchy and Stevie G aren’t doing too bad for themselves.. Pity about Ashley Cole
- The expectation and pressure from the media back home simply cannot be underestimated – they literally carry the weight of the entire nation on their shoulders, weighed down by the desperation for them to finally bring home the cup and title as world champs
- Pressure and reliance on Rooney – not to mention his temper (remember disastrous end to WC in ’06 with red card for stomping, also more recently in the last friendly – abusing the ref). Rooney is an absolute gun, a complete striker who never gives up and is capable of just about anything but will need to keep his calm and not allow the other teams to wind him up – if England are to lift the trophy he has got to be at his absolute best
- Inability to win a penalty shoot-out – G-d help England if it gets to that
- Heskey – to be honest I’m not entirely sure why he’s even there but Capello seems to insist he’s the starting man along side Rooney (who am I to argue..) however I cannot see him scoring a goal.. ever (his 7 goals in 58 games would support this). He’s way past it, would much rather see Crouch or Defoe neither of which are too brilliant either, but at least pose a goal scoring threat
- Chokers tag will be playing on their minds
In the opinion of the webmaster this is in fact England’s year and for once they will be able to shake off their tag as chokers, allowing them to finally progress past the quarter final. This should see them face off against Brazil in the semi final in what could be one of the games of the tournament. Although what happens from there I feel is too close to call. I for one, hope that South Africa 2010 will be England’s turn to shine and that they finally fulfill the potential that they have so often failed to live up to, they simply have too much class to keep failing. Come July 11 the webmaster would be happy to see Stevie G lifting the trophy.
Come on England!
Webmaster over and out.