England's Countdown to Rio - Part Three (Strength in Depth)
So, Roy Hodgson did what the tabloid press have been ‘demanding’ for months, try untested promising, players in the full side. And what did we find out? Well, if I’m very much mistaken, we have many fine club players but barely a handful of international class players. But does this matter? Personally, I think not.
You may well think this statement is a bit odd. Surely, we need eleven world class players in the team, thus giving us the best chance of lifting the trophy for the second time? Once again, I think not. Look back at Sir Alf’s side from ’66. That team was not eleven world class players, we only had four, maybe five in the starting line up (Banks, Moore, Bobby Charlton, Peters and Ball), with the rest of the team made of good club players balancing the side and complimenting the better lads. Our current side has a similar look to it, with the class of Stevie G, Rooney, Ashley Cole complimented with some good to great players. To be honest, if we had eleven world greats, the team would not work or flow as one. There would be too many people trying to do their own thing for themselves, rather than for the good of the cause.
In other sports, this has proved to be the case. Take the McLaren Formula 1 team in 2007. The British team signed former World champion Fernando Alonso to partner their newly promoted junior driver Lewis Hamilton. The two charges spent most of the season trying their utmost to beat the other in a huge game of one upmanship, that Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen pipped them both to the post. Look at the American Ryder Cup team. The squad roll of the tongue like a who’s who of where all the major honours have resided for the last few seasons. However, playing together seems to take the gloss off each individual’s performance, and thus Europe tend to take advantage of this.
The tabloid press would have you believe the two games against Chile and Germany were moral dissolving defeats, from which Hodgson will do well to lift his side come their next fixture. Piffle. Numerous professional footballers have admitted they struggle to get truly motivated for friendlies and ‘practice’ matches, and this showed in these two games. Us armchair supporters find this astounding – surely wearing the shirt of your nation - representing your home country - would be incentive enough to play your heart out. It isn’t – as all of us when at work will only but that bit of extra effort in and perform to the zenith of our ability when were after something (promotion, meeting a target to gain a financial incentive, trying to catch the eye of that awesome redhead in the office without showing off and looking a right cock, etc) We found many competent players on the fringes of the international side, but I feel they needed something more substantial to get their teeth into, so to speak. This is where the four countries that make up the British Union miss the old Home Nations Championship. The players would have something to play for, and make blooding new players a worthwhile exercise.
So, don’t be disheartened we lost two games on the spin. They were ‘nothing’ fixtures to be honest, more to do with the F.A’s anniversary celebrations than preparations for next summer’s World Cup. Hodgson will already know who is going to make the plane come July, and is just checking to see if any ‘surprise’ (like Andros Townsend) is worth his attention.
There’s nothing to worry about. England are still going to win the World Cup.
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