Every two years, the whole nation revives their sense of optimism that England can win a major tournament and every two years, reality takes effect and the Three Lions crash out, probably on penalties.
When a new manager enters the fray, speculation is rife. 'Who will he pick?' 'What style of play will he adopt?' 'Will he be the man to bring England glory?' But the harsh reality is that regardless of who the manager is, England will never compete with the likes of Brazil, Germany and Spain.
The lack of English players in the Premier League's top sides is a clear problem when it comes to our national side. Due to the focus on bringing the world's top players to our country's top division, young English talents are sent out to the lower leagues and never fully blossom into stars on the international stage. Until the last year or so, the fact that the England national side has been made up of older players shows that the past decade has been almost solely devoted to making the Premier League a rich and diverse league. The problem now is adding young talent with the ability to compete in a major competition, something that is incredibly difficult.
At this moment in time, there are a limited number of English players who could really pose a threat to the opposition this summer. The 23-man squad almost picked itself and the few squabbles such as Ashley Cole or Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert or Andy Carroll, really won't change the outcome of the World Cup as much as we would like it to think. If it were a different manager picking the squad, it would have been very similar as there is simply not much to choose from, especially when we're trying to compete with the best in the world to take home the most coveted trophy in international football.
When you look at the quality of players Brazil have left behind this summer, it is unbelievable. The likes of Kaka and Robinho are not even on the stand-by list. Germany too have a wealth of players to choose from, mainly because teams in the Bundesliga focus on developing players from their own nation and a large percentage of players in the league are German. The Bundesliga is a fine example of how a league can be full of world class players and without the need for heavy investment and foreign stars. As a result of this, Brazil and Germany are two of the favourites to win the competition - coincidence? I think not.
Roy Hodgson has chosen a team with a low average age, peppered with experienced players like Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney. He has been commended for doing so, but was there really any other option? Subsequently, the limited players available means that the number of tactical possibilities are low, as he must choose a style of play that suits the players he has chosen. The target man and direct style of play would be effective with Carroll or Lambert, especially if a smaller, quicker striker was playing off them, but it is unattractive and would fail to utilise the likes of Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling. If he plays a fast paced, passing game, the likes of Lambert and Rooney may struggle to keep up and goals could be a problem. The number of options is slim.
Regardless of who the England manager was, is, or will be in our generation, England will struggle, or more likely fail to compete on the international stage. The influx of foreign stars mean that the Premier League lacks real English talent and until that problem is addressed, the team will essentially pick itself.
Of course, we can all believe that our boys will win a penalty shootout if one arrises. Of course we think that because Southampton's trio have shone in the Premier League, they will do so against the best players in the world. Of course we still expect Wayne Rooney to perform in an England shirt. And of course, against all the odds, we believe that England can win the World Cup, despite all of the problems previously mentioned. But the truth is, none of that will happen and it's not Roy Hodgson's fault.
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