When England hired Fabio Capello, FA chiefs believed they were getting a man who could shake-up the Three Lions and introduce new philosophies. Unfortunately, Capello's disappointing tenure has seen many similarities of the previous failures that plagued Sven-Göran Eriksson and Steven McClaren's reigns.
Capello was expected to bring through fresh youth into the squad and make the tactical changes necessary for England to finally live up to their potential. England should have taken a page from their conquerors, Germany, who weren't afraid to change their playing style and push youngsters into the team.
Germany was always seen as a team that relied on experienced veterans and were known to play a powerful physical style. Now, they've adapted to modern football and showed off their attacking flair against the English in a 4-1 domination.
England's backline took a hammering from the quick German counter-attacks as their lack of pace in central defense was susceptible. John Terry looked like a shadow of his usually commanding self. Matthew Upson was easily exploited. Neither Glen Johnson or Ashley Cole have been known to be solid defensively and were constantly being ripped apart by wing attacks.
Gareth Barry looked very slow of pace and was unable to fulfill his "holding role" as he seemed short of match fitness. Steven Gerrard's influence was wasted being pushed out on the left side and Rooney was ineffective all tournament. Frank Lampard and James Milner were the two lone players who had a decent time against the Germans.
There were many calls throughout the media for Capello to switch to a 4-4-1-1 formation before kickoff, allowing Gerrard to play just behind Rooney and sacrificing Jermain Defoe. This would have given Rooney adequate service and Gerrard the right amount of influence on the game. Capello was supposed to be brave enough to change formations even when things went wrong. His answer was pulling off the effective Milner and the questionable introduction of Emile Heskey.
Whether Capello remains or a new man is given the task of being England's next manager, sweeping changes must be made.
The Italian boss did not get the best out of Wayne Rooney, the man who England fans hung their hopes upon. Partnering him with the lumbering and uninspiring Heskey for most of the tournament clearly was not the best plan. When Defoe took Heskey's place, Rooney had to play deeper and do some of the grunt work for the diminutive Tottenham striker.
Peter Crouch somehow gets overlooked despite his international record of 21 goals in 40 appearances. He's never been given decent time for England in any major tournament. The lanky forward is able to win balls in the air that would allow the likes or Lampard or Gerrard the opportunity to use their long-shooting acumen. Crouch also is gifted in hold-up play and has enough creativity and passing ability to slide through balls into Rooney's path.
After Robert Green's disastrous error, David James did a decent job of covering up the back four's frequent errors. It wouldn't be fair to assign blame to the 39 year-old keeper but Joe Hart should have been England's No. 1 stopper. Hart was selected over both James and Green as keeper in the PFA XI team as he even beat out the likes of Pepe Reina, Petr Cech, and Tim Howard. It's time for him to be given the starting keeper's gloves permanently.
Along with Hart, there are a few others who should be involved in the youth movement. England would be wise to follow Germany's example as they were torn apart by the very youthful German side. Talented winger Adam Johnson put in some impressive performances since moving to Manchester City in the January transfer window.
Ryan Shawcross and Gary Cahill are two very sought after central defenders. Each should be given decent time as the partnership of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry can't last forever.
Theo Walcott should one day reach his potential and Stewart Downing has come on strongly since moving to Aston Villa. Lee Cattermole and Jack Rodwell are the most impressive players who have been involved with the England under 21's. They are already making an impact in the Premier League.
James Milner's inclusion in England's starting eleven should be automatic. He's become of the Premier League's top talents. He will surely earn a move from Aston Villa to a contending Premier League club. Along with Rooney, he is still only 24 and will figure greatly in England's success at future tournaments. These are the two players who future English squad should be built around.
Fresh ideas, tactical changes, and an injection of youth should give England what is needed to catch up to the elite countries in world football. Whether Capello survives from his mistakes in South Africa or a new man is given his role, the Three Lions need a major face-lift.
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