Don’t Panic! Don’t Panic!
It may be best known as an immortal line often uttered by Corporal Jones in classic sitcom ‘Dad’s Army’, but that is the message from England manager Roy Hodgson after the Three Lions lost to Germany last night. So should we believe the England manager? Or do we in fact have reason to panic?
November 20th, 2013
Last night’s defeat to Germany saw England lose their second consecutive game at Wembley in the space of five days, and the first time they have experienced back-to-back defeats at the home of English football since 1977. This has caused some people to state that the national team is in a state of disarray, with flappy goalkeepers and struggling strikers; however Hodgson looked the epitome of calm as he batted off questions from the media.
I do feel a bit sorry for Roy. These games were, after all, friendlies; while I realise there is no such thing as a friendly in football (especially when England and Germany are involved) it is the perfect time for him to experiment with in-form players before he decides on his final World Cup squad. What became startlingly apparent last night is that England does not have the strength in depth that the Germans, and other top European teams, have at their disposal. Even with Germany resting a number of their top players, including Arsenal’s Mesut Özil, they had an impressive, if inexperienced, first XI.
The Bender twins added solidity into the centre of their midfield, and Bayern Munich’s Mario Götze provided their creative spark. A bench that included the likes of Matts Hummels, Andre Schürrle and Thomas Müller also showed just how fruitful their focus on youth players in the Bundesliga has been.
What the majority seem to forgetting is that it has been a good year for England. We’ve qualified for the World Cup, and we beat Brazil, Poland and Scotland in the FA’s 150th Anniversary year. What we also have to bear in mind is that Germany are one of the firm favourites for the World Cup in 2014. England have largely been written off by most to lift the trophy, but we do have an exciting squad that now has little pressure on them.
We have talent coming through that is not only out-performing foreign counterparts in the Premier League, but also doing well on the International scene. Adam Lallana impressed against Chile, and he will benefit greatly from having two caps under his belt. If he continues to shine for Southampton, he has an extremely good chance of making it to Brazil.
Andros Townsend has also impressed in an England shirt, and with Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to come back from injury, the wide areas are looking promising. Most positive of all – Joe Hart looked to be returning to his former self, putting in some world-class stops to be named England’s standout performer last night.
I think it’s a bit of an overreaction to panic after two losses. We perhaps should have beaten Chile, but they have some excellent players and we played a second string that was largely experimental. Against Germany, we still only lost 1-0. Are we in disarray? Absolutely not. In fact, this is the most positive I’ve felt about English football in a long time. If we continue to develop our young players such as Townsend, Zaha and Caulker, we could see an exciting starting XI at the Euros in 2016 that has a realistic chance of reaching the final.