Will Hodgson gamble on youth or play it safe with experience in Brazil?
I know which I would go with.
One will probably scrape through what is a tricky group and probably fall at the quarters in typical fashion and the other one is so filled with unpredictability who knows what could happen.
Surely the mystery of what could be excites you fans of the Three Lions more than the preparing to read the same old story.
Why would the same players who have fallen short at major competitions for the last 12 years be better equipped to help England to win the World Cup now they are all older and slower?
Hodgson missed a glaring opportunity to test his young players against Europe’s best in 2012 and give them that experience of major competition.
But the beauty of international football is that one of these major events comes round every two years, so the 66 year-old has an early opportunity to right his wrongs of Poland and Ukraine.
You only have to look at the German side right now as proof that giving Youth a chance at the top reaps its rewards.
After failing to progress past their group in Euro 2004 the state of German football was looking bleak, much like the mess we encountered when we failed to qualify for the 2008 Euro’s, but did they panic? No. Did we? Yes.
In the next major competition, which happened to be the 2006 World Cup which they hosted, they selected 8 players from the under 21s and reached the semi-finals, only to be beaten by the eventual winners Italy, 2-0.
Over the proceeding four years they continued to blood youngsters into the side and were beaten only by an unstoppable Spanish side; in the final of the 2008 Euros and semis of the 2010 World Cup.
The transformation of the German side is now complete and they are probably favourites in Brazil behind the hosts.
We should be aiming to replicate this model!
And it is not too late, Hodgson can start the ball rolling this summer.
Here is what I would do!
Despite Fraser Foster’s impressive clean sheet record at Celtic this season, Joe Hart has been there and done it. Experience is not always essential in every position but between the sticks it is vital, a nervous keeper is not what we want.
Much is made about full backs in the modern game and the necessity that they are good going forward but I am still a firm believer that a full backs main priority is to defend and we have too many who can’t. Kyle Walker and Glenn Johnson are great threats in the opposition half but they are also a threat in ours so I’ve gone with Phil Jones.
This is a particular area we need to freshen up. Over the course of the qualifying campaign Roy chopped and changed between Smalling, Jagielka and Cahill but if you’re going by club form it has to be the latter two.
Possibly the hardest selection to make in the XI. Ashley Cole, although he is 33 he still has bags of quality and knowledge about the position but he is currently looking out of favour in Mourinho’s side and we need our players sharp. Baines has never been given a real concrete chance to cement his position in the England side but his performances both defensively and going forward have been first class for Martinez’s new look Everton.
Long are the days of being successful with a two man midfield. Near enough all the European powerhouses of club football have employed a three man midfield and so will the favourites in Brazil. Domination in the centre of the park has become paramount to success in the modern game so we have to follow suit. Although he is not playing week in week out, Jack Wilshere is still one of the best young English players of his generation. The Arsenal midfielder has everything; strength, determination, skill, pace and a footballing brain that is on a similar wavelength to that of Wayne Rooney. Alongside the skipper Steven Gerrard the pair are bound to add some fight and resilience to this England side. Big responsibility for such a young man maybe but for me Ross Barkley has to be in the team. Just in front of the pair I just mentioned the powerful youngster could cause havoc for international defences and it would be an exciting prospect to see him linking up with some with somebody of Rooney’s ilk.
The right hand side of midfield is a position England have had a lot of options for the past few years but never really had a stand out candidate since Beckham. However after his startling performances in the final two qualifiers Andros Townsend has to be favourite. The winger was instrumental in booking England’s place on the flight to Brazil and after Walcott’s injury last month he must be confident of getting the nod.
Again another difficult selection. It would be hard not to pick Daniel Sturridge after his superb goal scoring form this season at Liverpool but in playing alongside Rooney you sacrifice some balance to the side. Chaimberlain has to be the other candidate; he could adapt to a wide role much better than Sturridge so their selection would have to be entirely dependent on the opposition.
Straight forward choice….Rooney.
Jones Jagielka Cahill Baines
Let me know your thoughts and what your starting XI for Brazil would be.
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