What Do England Need to Change to Have a Successful World Cup?

Sam PilgerContributing Football WriterMarch 4, 2014

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With a World Cup on the horizon, England fans will be filled with those familiar feelings of hope and expectation as Roy Hodgson's charges play their last few games before heading off to Brazil.

What must England's players and Hodgson do in the lead up to the finals to ensure they will come home with their heads held high?


Play without pressure

Let’s be perfectly honest, England are not going to win the World Cup this summer in Brazil. We all know that.

Even the Football Association’s own chairman Greg Dyke, as reported by the BBC, has admitted, "I don't think anyone realistically thinks we are going to win the World Cup." 

For the first time in my lifetime England will travel to a World Cup without the burden of an expectant nation back home.

England have nothing to lose this summer and so they should play like that and actually embrace this new more realistic mood. 

Roy Hodgson's side should play without any pressure; they should play with freedom and enjoyment, unshackled by that gnawing and debilitating fear of disappointing anyone and then who knows, they might even surprise themselves with where it takes them.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 03:  Luke Shaw in action during the England training session at the Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre on March 3, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


Embrace Youth

No one wants to see an England World Cup squad consisting of the same old faces who have constantly underperformed at tournaments.

Roy Hodgson needs to be bold and pick a squad brimming with youthful talent who are actually excited about going to Brazil. 

It is why he must jettison one of Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines in favour of the potential of Southampton’s Luke Shaw.

It is also why Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Andros Townsend must all be on the plane to Brazil. 

We know what the old faces can do at tournaments. It is time to see what the new generation can now offer and again we might just be surprised.

Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press


Protect Wayne Rooney

Roy Hodgson can’t do anything about protecting Wayne Rooney when he plays for Manchester United, but he can as soon as the season finishes.

Before the European Championships in 2012, Rooney took a well-publicised long-haul trip to Las Vegas and then had another disappointing tournament in Ukraine and Poland.

It would appear Hodgson has learned from this mistake, and as reported by The Daily Mail, he recently said, “I certainly wouldn’t encourage them to go that far away, no. My advice will be if you are going to go away with your family, keep it much closer to home and avoid the very, very long journeys.”

This could be Wayne Rooney’s last chance to make a major impact on a tournament, and he doesn’t want to undermine it by booking the wrong post-season holiday again.


Practice Penalties

Since 1990 England have been knocked out of a major tournament in a penalty shootout on six occasions. 

It happens with such depressing regularity that England play with this constant fear it will happen each time they compete in a summer tournament.

Roy Hodgson believes he has found the answer in possibly bringing in a psychologist to help their preparations.

As the England manager told the BBC: "It will be about their character, their confidence and their ability to block out the next morning's headlines. If a psychologist can find a way to block that out, then we'd be very, very happy."

This could help but simple practice in every training session will begin to build their confidence that they will successfully navigate a penalty shootout this time.