What More Can England Do?

May 30, 2010 - Austria - Football - Japan v England International Friendly - UPC Arena, Graz, Austria - 30/5/10..England's Adam Johnson warms up before the match.
Could this man help?

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.

9 thoughts on “What More Can England Do?”

  1. Agree about Capello; disagree about nearly everything else you wrote and your optimism that “England have a fair chance of winning Euro 2012” is, to borrow a phrase from you, rubbish!

    It is not, necessarily, the England squad that needs to be overhauled, (there is a dearth of talent limiting the number of available players from which to choose), it is the whole of English football.

    The reason there are too many foreigners playing in the English game is that for far too long the coaching of English footballers has been lacking and has failed to place the emphasis on individual skill and technique.

    Hopefully the recent success of the England Under 17’s, current European Champions, having, in May, beaten Spain 2 – 1 in the final, is an indication that things may be improving.

  2. I’m not an English though I was born there but have long since moved abroad so I hope I can speak from an unbiased position considering that I’ve watched England fail for many years now to make an impact at the top level.

    A change to the manager won’t make a difference, you’ve had some very good managers who have been successful elsewhere but have failed with England, anyone who comes in may be slightly more successful but won’t bring the ultimate success of winning a trophy.

    It’s clear from their clubs that the players are good enough technically, they’re no less able to trap or pass a ball than most of the players in the world cup.

    What it comes down to is their game intelligence, where the Germans knew when and where to run and play the ball when in posession or where to close down the space when in defence, the England team were found wanting.

    The Germans can find the solutions when they need to, if they are being pressed they can move the ball quickly to space, if they find a strong defence in front of them, they can draw the CB out and create the space up front (which they did to Terry over and over again).

    England on the other hand couldn’t think on their feet, no one from the midfield, not even the supposed holding midfielder, ever dropped back to stop the deep runs of the German striker and allow the England defence to recover. They failed in their ability to hold the ball long enough to allow the full backs to get forward. When the passes into the strikers weren’t working they never changed the way they delivered the ball.

    These are things that come down to the players on the field being able to make judgement calls and understand how and when to change the way they play.

    Too many of the England team have foreign players around them at their clubs that do all the hard work that allows them to do what they like (Gerrard, Lampard). That’s an indictment on the English system that no one has been good enough to step up to those roles. Where is the English Makelele, Park Ji Sun, Ballack, Essien, Kuyt, all those guys that do the hard work to allow the other players to shine. They certainly weren’t in the England team at this world cup.

  3. Here is how to solve England’s problems:
    1) Get Gerrard to pass the ball rather than having pointless shots at goal from 30-40m out.
    2) Tell A. Cole and Johnsonn that only 1 is allowed forward at any one time.
    3) Get some pace out wide. You have plenty of them, you just did not take any.
    4) Replace one of your tall, slow Centre Backs with a faster one – even if they are shorter. This is international football, not the EPL, most teams do not have monster Centre Forwards – look at Lucas Neil, right back normally, but is actually a much better centre back at international level he is too slow for RB and too short for CB in the EPL – but a good size and quickish CB at international level.

  4. I’m glad you had Adam Johnson as your poster boy. Look at the age of the England midfield vs. the Germans. Hindsight is showing that it might have been a blessing for Ballack to be injured. Think about Ballack ‘anchoring’ their midfield vs. Ozil. It might also come to expectations. The Germans were considered too young, and expectations were low. The nature of the English fans will cause a manager to stick to his old guard.

    One exception to sticking to the old guard is whether the Americans would have had Friedel in net. While Howard didn’t commit a Green, I think Friedel could have gotten one or two that Howard missed.

  5. “As it stands, England have a fair chance of winning Euro 2012, or at least making a good run.”

    Based on what?

    Do you think Spain, Germany, Turkey, France, Russia, Italy, Holland will say, “Oh, lets allow England to do something for a change, they deserve it…”

    Get real. Reaching the Quarter Finals will be a big ask for England at the very least, to be honest, I have never heard of Danny Rose, Johnson may have scored a nice goal against Sunderland, but in the other big games, Chelsea especially, what did he do? Those are the type of defences you face at elite level, Johnson is OK, not a world beater in the slightest at yet.

    I admire you patriotism, but you also need to be realistic, there is no evidence that England can do something, as their track record shows they don’t ever do anything.

  6. It is funny to see you throw words around like “Everyone knows this” when you are obviously a bit insecure about your own opinion on the coaching change that is drastically needed

    To say the coaching was a joke would be a drastic understatement and he failed on numerous parts including player selection, formations, and in general holding the team together

    But you are right….everyone knows that a coach who can’t pick the right guys, put them in the right formations, or keep them in unity is OBVIOUSLY the right guy to lead them to success


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