Best: Winners 1966
Coach: Roy Hodgson
For a country that boasts one of the most entertaining leagues in the world, that provides employment for footballers from far and wide, the English haven’t really impressed on an international stage have they? Maybe that’s the problem, that their league is busy honing the skills of foreigners, they haven’t focused on their home-grown talent.
It feels to me, for the first time in many, many years, that the British media is not creating a hoopla about their national team – they’re not the “favourites” to win. In fact, some articles have even downplayed their chances. Even though their line up is not as star studded as the “Golden Era”, Roy Hodgson is building this squad for coming years. With youngsters – confidant, eager to prove themselves youngsters- in the line-up, even though this side may not lift the trophy this year, I rate they will be a force to be reckoned with come Russia and Quatar (if that even happens… but we’ll get to that in another post).
Man to Watch
Wayne Rooney hasn’t been at his best these last 2 seasons with Manchester United, but the hopes of millions will be pinned on him. He had an excellent EURO 2004 but failed to impress anyone in World Cup 2006 & 2010. While he may not show the same consistency as Ronaldo or Messi, he is England’s best hope. I, more than anyone hope he has a great tournament (yes, even though I’m a Liverpool fan!). Rooney’s pace, grit and genuine love for the game impresses.
The majority of this team is still fairly inexperienced, this will be most telling in defence, with seniors John Terry still in self imposed exile and Ashley Cole throwing in his towel. And, as mentioned previously, the lack of Premier League exposure for young home-grown talent will weigh heavily on this side. And the biggest issue is that England lack BMT (Big Match Temperament), having failed to impress in the last God-only-knows-how-many tournaments.
So can they do it?
Probably not. They will exceed expectations should they even make it to the quarters.
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Celtic FC), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion FC), Joe Hart (Manchester City FC).
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton FC), Gary Cahill (Chelsea FC), Phil Jagielka (Everton FC), Glen Johnson (Liverpool FC), Phil Jones (Manchester United FC), Luke Shaw (Southampton FC), Chris Smalling (Manchester United FC).
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton FC), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool FC), Adam Lallana (Southampton FC), Frank Lampard (Chelsea FC), James Milner (Manchester City FC), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal FC), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool FC), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal FC).
Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Southampton FC), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United FC), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool FC), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United FC).
Images: Wikipedia, Getty Images