As the dust settles on yet another shameful World Cup exit by the Three Lions the debate will inevitably migrate from away from the merits of video technology and towards the reasons for the national side’s lacklustre flop.
The primary reason has got to be the players.
Look at the last World Cup, individually, performances were poor. England didn’t even qualify for the European Championships in 2008 and they followed this up with another underwhelming tournament.
Of course, manager Fabio Capello made many mistakes, but the FA has seen to it that we have a whole two weeks of speculation over his future. So let’s take the chance to examine where the dead wood is in the squad.
Ok, the first selection in my list is a bit of a cheat – since it’s not a player – but it sets out my philosophy for the rest of the picks, so here me out.
The so-called “Golden Generation” was awful at this World Cup, and they were awful at the last World Cup. Frankly, there is no way they will be able to play in the next World Cup. The European Championships should be sacrificed to allow the younger talent to come through.
Germany have already made the change, and both France and Italy may well do the same. Factoring in Spain’s dominance, we’d be foolish to try and prolong the international careers of our elderly statesmen.
We’re already uncompetitive, let’s give the next generation a chance to develop rather than waste our time with most of the current crop.
Besides, it’s not like they’ve earned the right. The players have been terrible, we owe them no loyalty.
Right, let’s get down to business. John Terry should announce his international retirement or be told by the next manager he won’t be selected.
“But why?” I hear you say, “John Terry is only 29, he has another World Cup in him. He’ll only be 33 when the next one rolls around.”
I’m not having it. At his best Terry is a leader on the field, a warrior, a man who will die for the cause. His attempted block against Slovenia exemplified his attitude at its best.
But where was he against Germany? Making school boy errors and hiding like the rest of his England colleagues.
We don’t need defenders who can’t cut it against the best, there are plenty of candidates who can turn up and shut out Slovenia, we need defenders with intelligence who can contain the best strikers in the world.
Terry has failed to do this at international level...he should go. Chances are that he won't.
He should be joined by his Chelsea colleague. There is probably less resistance to this idea since Frank Lampard will be 36 years old when the World Cup travels to Brazil.
The midfielder is generally judged on his goal scoring output at club level, where he does very well. But Lampard has failed to deliver a single goal in the last two international tournaments.
For whatever reason, he doesn’t deliver at international level and should hang up his boots. Despite being frightfully unlucky to have a goal ruled out this time around.
Yes, captain not so fantastic should be ditched too. His last season at Liverpool was the worst in a long time and the midfielder is showing signs of his advancing years. He’s picking up more injuries and his declining physical fitness also affects the central qualities he brings to the game.
His tenacity, his drive to rampage forward, his ability to dominate midfield and dictate the tempo of a game. All these qualities will diminish as the years go by.
When the next World Cup rolls around Gerrard will have been forced to reinvent himself as a midfielder, he’ll be caught between two roles. Not good enough to be a defensive midfielder, not good enough to be England’s main creative force.
People will point to Gerrard being played out of position, lining up on the left flank. They will say he would have been fantastic had he been played in a more attacking role, just behind Wayne Rooney.
These are fallacies; Gerrard can’t cut it on the international stage.
Besides, when has he delivered for England like he has at club level?
You don’t escape the guillotine by virtue of being absent from the party. Although he wasn’t part of the England debacle in South Africa, Rio Ferdinand hasn’t looked as sturdy for his club this season as times gone by.
Add to this his troubling back problems, and the case for including Ferdinand in the next World Cup squad becomes more difficult to construct.
Of course, he could go on and have a good season next year, as could any of these players; the point is that England need to plan ahead. He would be 33 years old when Euro ’12 came around, and 35 years old in Brazil.
The chances that Rio would be a starter in, erm, Rio, would be slim. England are better off cutting their losses and blooding a younger alternative in the European Championships.
I’ve had my say, what do you think? Should be write off our chances of winning Euro 2012 this quickly? Or is sacrificing a tournament the most sensible strategy?
Or do you think that our younger players actually have a better chance of succeeding at both tournaments than the current crop?
What are the alternatives?