FAO Roy Hodgson: England's Future
Where are we?
The England squad for the Brazil '14 World Cup reveals a much-demanded chance for our future stars. The notable inclusion of Luke Shaw over century-capped Ashley Cole along with 19 year old "best youngster in Europe",(according to club manager Brendan Rodgers) Raheem Sterling. Breakthrough stars Adam Lallana of Southampton and Ross Barkley of Everton are in line for possible starting positions too, with established early 20's Daniel Sturridge, Jack Wilshere and Joe Hart adding youthful experience. With a blend of youth, experience and lower expectations, England go to Brazil in a better place than of many previous World Cup campaigns. Although our group has the unfortunate label "the group of death" due to our position surrounded by Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica, it will be a test England must overcome someday to win the prize we so desperately would love to win again. There are no easy matches in a World Cup, which rules put an easy stroll to the final. It will be hard, which is what makes it the greatest prize to win of all Footballing competition.
Issues to be addressed
Steven Gerrard has indicated that his tenure as captain will be over beyond the World Cup. This provides a problem for Roy Hodgson, who could appoint a multitude of candidates. An obvious choice would be icon Rooney, but this selection could prove to be a double edged sword on the biggest stage. Rooney's World Cup goal duck is yet to be broken, the Manchester United striker having never proven his worth at a World Cup. Statistics show that when Rooney goes into hiding, England collapse. Another candidate is Joe Hart, but for his talents, an outfield organiser would be preferred. As Gerrard's example shows, a captain should be a manager's Commander on the pitch. The talented Jack Wilshere could take the armband, but injury has let to inconsistency in his game and with a fraction of the experience and knowhow of Gerrard, is this a wise choice? Perhaps Gary Cahill of Chelsea is a choice worthy of consideration. His regular starting position is rarely in doubt and experienced consistency could provide Hodgson with a valuable ally on the field.
An ageing defence is also a dilemma facing Hodgson. It is an area in which England have struggled for regularity since the reign of Sol Campbell, Jamie Carragher, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. Ashley Cole's exclusion rules out another option for both a starting position and potential captain. Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker tussle for the Right Back spot, where Cahill and Jagielka have maintained a starting position. Leighton Baines' sumptuous club form allows his number 3 jersey to remained unchallenged for the moment. Looking forward to Russia '18, could Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Steven Caulker edge ahead of the ageing central defence of this coming World Cup? Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw are almost certainly the future of England's attacking fullbacks.
England will leave the World Cup in Brazil and turn their heads to European qualification. Perhaps this tournament, providing England qualify, could be used as a training ground for inexperienced young stars. With players like Gerrard and Lampard soon to be out of the frame, who is the next Andrea Pirlo of England? A enthusiastic Jordan Henderson has learned from club colleague Gerrard and could one day fill those boots. Jack Wilshere can play in this position, but his instinctive forward drive could hinder England, rather than protect it's back four. Perhaps Nathaniel Challobah could be sold to a Premier League club to gain experience is a potential answer to this problem. Phil Jones' positional inconsistency could provide England with a new David Luiz like midfielder. Wembley witnessed a defensive Number 10 Jones perform fantastically against a rampant Spain side, the reigning World and European champions held to a draw.
The FA have 2 options beyond Roy Hodgson's tenure as manager. We can employ a football Philosopher or a tactically astute team manager. The world's greatest football Philosopher Pep Guardiola took charge of Barcelona and in 4 seasons won everything there was to win at club level, winning the same trophies multiple times along the way. His sabbatical in New York allowed him time to develop the Barcelona ideology, which took less than a season to be implemented in his current Bayern Munich team. The mechanical Germans stormed to a treble in Europe and Domestic competition, parting company with their manager after a historic campaign. Guardiola implemented a diluted version of the tiki-taka football, combining German power players and tactical genius. The signing of Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara boosted Bayern and allowed Pep many new options. A tactical mastermind switch allowed Phillip Lahm, world renouned Right Back into midfield. Allowing bombing Full Back Rafinha to take full advantage of the protection allowed by Lahm. The Barcelona philosophy is still central to the Bayern style, but only adapted for application to Germany.
The other option is the less exciting but more Italian style option. A manager who can build a team in their own way expressing their collective ideas on how a team should play, but maintaining a tactical concern for the result over the performance. A style of Jose Mourinho. A tactically wise manager able to sacrifice attacking flair for a result. Jose's Chelsea sat back at an awe inspiring Liverpool team most feared at Anfield, but took 2 goals from the Scouse side. His love for a goal machine talismanic striker is a feature that his teams over England(Didier Drogba), Italy(Deigo Milito) and Spain(Karim Bemzema). The use of Demba Ba at Anfield in the most resounding tactical display the Premier League had seen all season is evidence of selection for the benefit of the team and a gameplan over the use of out of form superstars like Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o. This selection, albeit controversial, could save England. It could remove the guaranteed start for Wayne Rooney and place an onus on him to perform or not play. Will be have the Special One or the Special Philosophy manager?
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