In the aftermath of England’s World Cup exit, the media and the fans are already planning for 2014, and the European Championships in 2012. There are calls for a new manager, an overhaul of the squad and even a change to the domestic league. However, that is all obscuring the main point. England did everything they could, they tried their best, and it wasn’t good enough. They hit their ceiling.
The calls for changes are rubbish, a new manager would definitely be a downgrade from Capello. Everyone really knows this, the calls for a change are just to see a fresh face and get everyone to forget about the dismal campaign. A change of manager would definitely not be beneficial. The players haven’t stopped listening to him, and in interviews he has appeared to understand his mistakes. That is definitely better going forward than a new gaffer who will undoubtedly have his own learning curve.
The squad does not need an overhaul, the footballers sent to South Africa were pretty much the best 23 available, perhaps one or two could be disputed. Maybe some changes could be wrought, with some more youth coming in that will be in their prime come 2014, but the squad quality was generally sound. There are not a host of talented 20 somethings knocking on the door, a couple are ready to make a difference, but the core of the squad looks like it will be the same for Euro 2012 and Brazil 2014, and there’s no shame in that, it’s the best that can be done.
The domestic league does not need to be overhauled. The theory that the players play too many matches is ridiculous. Dirk Kuyt played far more Liverpool matches this season than either Gerrard or Johnson, and made probably more higher level appearances than anyone on the England roster and he’s still running 90 minutes for Holland every game, he’s not exactly a star either. The theory that having all the players play in only one type of league is detrimental is rubbish as well. The EPL is the most cosmopolitan league in the world, there are managers from many different countries with different styles. What having one or two players go up against terrible teams every weekend in Spain will do for the national side baffles me (and yes 14 out of 20 teams in La Liga are terrible).
It sounds like I’m being bullish about the whole thing, and maybe I am, (actually I probably am). But in reality, the only thing to do is to make the relatively minor tactical adjustments (could something as simple as throwing Gerrard in the hole behind Rooney or picking Peter Crouch instead of Heskey change everything? maybe) and plow forward. It may sound like I’m simplifying everything, but in addition to a good set up, a large amount of luck, in addition to squad quality, is needed to become a champion. Look at Argentina, who would have thought they’d have got their act together, just in time, while England, who looked well drilled throughout, perished early. Sometimes breaks just don’t go your way, your keeper lets in a sitter, refs miss goals, it happens. Worse squads than this England side have finished in the top four, or even as champions.
As it stands, England have a fair chance of winning Euro 2012, or at least making a good run. The squad, while perhaps not containing World Class players, looks decent, and perhaps some more technically skilled players waiting in the wings like Adam Johnson and Danny Rose could push the side over the hump. What all this optimism means, is not to say that England shouldn’t be making changes, some are definitely needed, however a complete cleaning of house would just make everything worse.