Following the horror show of a performance in the 2010 world cup, the break down of the 'golden generation' and the imminent appointment of Roy Hodgson, it is apparent that we are huge underdogs for Euro 2012.
I for one am glad of this; I think Hodgson is a good appointment. I have become disillusioned with international football in England over the last decade or so. I have grown tired of seeing us underperform on the main stage after hyping ourselves up as potential winners. We have a chance to start fresh now with a new team and new expectations. Being the underdog nation could well suit us. The English hate winners and this is why as a nation we have been guilty of ruining our own chances on the big stage, the supporters, players, press and the politics of the FA are all guilty of the pre tournament overhype and post tournament slamming.
Unlike many I did actually agree with the term 'golden generation', we had several world class players but the fact was and is that your best players don't make your best team. If Gerrard and Lampard can't play together then don't play them together, or put in a holding man with them so if they both go forward we have an insurance policy. If Scholes is one of the best central midfielders of his generation then play him in central midfield not on the left side to accommodate others. We never adopted the 4 3 3 and the international possession game quick enough, as other nations evolved their football we stood completely still hoping the class in our media pressured players would shine through. Occasionally it did, Beckham would save our bacon every now and again, Rooney or Gerrard would drag us out of an abyss on their football guile alone but that's not how it works. We had world class players that never complimented one another in a team, formation, managerial decisions and pressure are three of a million reasons why we didn't achieve.
Having said all that being totally honest after seeing us crash out against the Germans I looked at our team and struggled to find anybody likeable in the entire squad. The passion had gone as a supporter. I didn't care if we lost because I could barely stand anyone who was wearing the shirt. The Germans gave us the spanking we deserved; I hoped it would induce a radical change. The radical change hasn't been so radical but after a steady albeit easy qualifying campaign for the Euros I am quietly looking forward to the competition with this slightly fresher approach to the tournament.
Hodgson is a good appointment because he suits our ambitions, we need to be realistic and we need to play to our strengths, the fact is we are no Spain or Germany but that doesn't mean we can't have a good tournament. I also think he will make big decisions that we perhaps won't expect and I really hope he does. The squad needs a shake up, not because I dislike the majority of the players but because the majority of them haven't performed on the international stage, what have they done? Many of the likely candidates for the squad will have contributed to a failure in qualification for the previous Euros and a poor world cup campaign. You don't necessarily need to exclude these so called senior players from the squad but possibly the first team else its likely to be Déjà vu again.
I say spring a surprise or two; take the Ox, Lennon and Walcott. If we can't keep the ball as well as others lets soak up pressure and scare them with our pace, we have nothing to lose.
And that is why I think we might actually have a good tournament, because we have nothing to lose. Hopefully as underdogs there will be less pressure from the media and fans and the players can play freely. If this proves to be the case Hodgson will more than compliment the underdog philosophy.
If you look at his time at Liverpool then there is a feint scream of another McLaren scenario but only time will tell if this is true.
For now we need to get behind Roy and his squad choice and accept that we are the underdog nation.