England Hopes All But Over – what have we learned?
It was the result we had dreaded - caused by the man that we had feared.
June 20th, 2014
England lost 2-1 to Uruguay on Thursday night in a match that was separated by the brilliance of Luis Suarez. One of the villains of world football struck twice to put England’s chances of making it through the group out of their hands. It left England fans with a bitter taste in their mouths -a taste that has become so common at international level that it’s almost second nature to watch games with one eye closed.
England weren’t horrendously bad but they weren’t good either. They were average. The performance against Italy was much more positive and heart-filled. Against Uruguay we made mistakes and were punished for them. We also lost every second ball and, at times, our defence were hanging on. The start was slow against a team that, on paper, we should have beaten. Looking at the two teams on paper has you scratching your head. It was disappointing and so typical of England as a football team that I was not at all in shock. I was disappointed, but never shocked.
So what have we learned? I believe nothing of real value. We’ve learned that we simply aren’t good enough at international level. When looking back we’ll say that our World Cup was all but over in the space of a week! We have a great deal of promise in our ranks with people like Barkley and Sterling putting in decent performances, but overall I think the onus needs to be on developing players from a young age to play a certain way. In simple terms; we need better players. Along with this comes the need for luck. We need to be lucky in terms of future stars being born at the same time so that they can grow into a truly great international side.
There was no real pressure on this group of players, as no one expected a team so young to really go and bring the World Cup home, but we did hope to see some fearlessness. We were excited by the prospect of youth, but still… are our young players better than anyone else’s? Only time will tell. What needs to be remembered is that it’s tremendously hard to win a World Cup but for England not to get out of the group is disappointing. Although it’s not over, we need a miracle.Not just an Italy win but an actual miracle in where they destroy Costa Rica, Uruguay and then, of course, we beat Costa Rica by a few goals. If the miracle came true it would be great to see if we could start really performing and have a crack at the knockouts. Right now I can only see future defeats at the hands of the Dutch or the Germans, but I’d love more than anything to be proved wrong. I believe we need some luck, and that the future lies in better development at grass roots level. What was it that Tony Blair said? Education, education, education!