So the England football team return to duty this coming Wednesday with a friendly against Norway at Wembley in preparation for their first Euro 2016 qualifying game against a progressive Switzerland team on Monday 8th September in Basel, the following squad was named last Thursday –
Roy Hodgson is a man under pressure after England’s admittedly poor showing at the World Cup, though I do maintain that not that much should have been expected from the three lions (as stated in one of my world cup blogs – http://www.biggishmouthblog.com/biggishmouth-world-cup-england-hype-knee-jerk-clam-supports-lads/ ) but I do acknowledge they left in a damp squib and have to improve tout suite or a new manager may need to be sourced.
As well as Switzerland, England will face Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and also-rans San Marino. The top two in the group qualify automatically for the tournament in France, with even third place guaranteeing an opportunity to qualify via a play-off game (the best third place team qualifies automatically). Surely England cannot mess this one up!!!!!!!
As mentioned their first qualifier is against Switzerland (on paper their hardest game in the group) and the manager knows they need to get off to a good start to keep the wolves from the door. A lot of people reckon he ‘got away with it’ after England’s final game against Costa Rica (a shocker of a 0-0 really) as on the same day Luis Suarez decided to take a chunk out of an Italian defender and that took up most of the sport and news pages across the world, let alone England for a number of days (it still rumbles on now really). However the return of the England national team to the pitch brings the memory of a disappointing campaign in Brazil right back into focus.
So where does Roy Hodgson’s team go now. One thing is for sure the retirements of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard gives Roy the opportunity to blood some of England’s promising youngsters on a regular basis (some would argue they should have had more playing opportunities anyway). Yes the World Cup wasn’t great, but if there was a World League, England would not be expected to win it and as we stand making a top four place is likely well beyond their scope, they are mid table team in my opinion – so why all the hype??????? The future does look bright, in my opinion, and with young and hungry players all 26 or under such as Barkley, Flanagan, Henderson, Jones, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaw, Sterling, Stones, Sturridge, Welbeck, Wilshere as well as seasoned campaigners such as Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, James Milner and new captain Wayne Rooney with more to give and contribute – there is a basis of a good squad, who can achieve.
Obviously it’s up to the manager to get the right blend. He didn’t at the World Cup, especially his tactics and playing squad members out of their natural positions, hence the criticism. One thing he will need to do is have the strength if necessary to drop players, especially if they have not been performing for their club side and / or there are other, maybe not as established players doing well for their domestic team. One thing that will be a must is the utilisation of his players to produce easy on the eye attacking football with this crop of young talent.
Even though qualification cannot be seen as a given, anything but a convincing campaign will, as previously mentioned, pile the pressure well and truly on the 67 year old manager. This is probably the last chance Roy Hodgson will be given to make a mark for the national side and he won’t have a better opportunity, given the resources at his disposal and circumstances of having a raft of promising young players to work with. COME ON ENGLAND 🙂
Let me know what you think – you can also tweet me @biggishmouth or go to my facebook page at www.facebook.com/thebiggishmouth