World Cup 2014: Why It Was Already Over For England Before It Begun

England has once again suffered in a major tournament. The mix of youth and experience seems to have done very little to change the fortunes for Team England at the 2014 World Cup. So where do we go from here?

Dropping Ashley Cole

The use of players like Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson seemed in theory to be a strong move going forward. Youth, with little fear of the past. But was dropping experienced players like Ashley Cole really that wise? Whilst he has played less club football at domestic level this last season, it could be fairly argued such players could offer a lot still, if even in a transitional level. To bring in sudden changes are fine in principle, but the lack of experience is also something that takes more than a few games at international tournament level to overcome. Why not take more non playing former players with the squad potentially? Sure there have been cliques and issues as we saw in South Africa 2010, but it seems too disengaged that former players are becoming TV pundits. Although one must cite Gary Neville as the exception, who is at least trying to equally develop new England talent on the pitch, and offer open analysis and opinion off it.
We have to become more mature about the state of the game collectively.

England Football Fans & The English Media

For even the casual armchair observer, it is fairly obvious England cannot cope with the burden of expectation placed on them. The reality is we as fans must take some of the blame, alongside our media. We allow ourselves to believe that our beloved Premier League means that we have an equally good national side, worthy of success. It just can’t work that way. Fast forward to Brazil 2014. The attacking and probing performance, albeit a bit naïve in defence vs Italy, seemed to be in total opposition to how the team completely fell apart vs Uruguay. It was as if the team had a direct line to the criticism received from the first group match and took it to heart. We have to become more mature about the state of the game collectively.

Team England Tactics

I can discuss tactics for hours at this point but the easiest point moving forward is that when the team loses its head, or feels unable to cope with the aforementioned pressure, their passing and off the ball movement falls apart. As cited in my article “How do you solve a problem like England”, I give some deeper insight into the malaise at national and club level, and how I think things can and should change. To expand on those thoughts, we have to accept that we must improve how to pass and play. The more opportunities we develop talent of all ages to get the ball down, using concepts such as Futsal and other confidence raising concepts, the better. Fear is broken down by confidence, which is countered by knowledge of your trade. Give balls to children and let them play their worries away!

Football Is Entertainment

Take away the tribalism of which club or country you support, or who your favourite player is. Forget for a moment about the endless index statistics of how many inches of grass a player has covered or the percentage possession rate - believe it or not, this is meant to be entertainment, a place we want to go to after a hard week at work to forget our problems, not create more for ourselves. I coach every day and I believe it’s about giving young players a chance to learn new skills, to be fit and healthy and to enjoy life through sport. If we can take those same concepts into our views of the game we love, then maybe, just maybe it will rub off on 11 fearless English players one day.

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