Gritty and determined. As Steven Gerrard, proud England captain, got the studs of his boot to graze the ball towards the bottom right of Wojech Sczcesny’s goal, there was an authentic sense of togetherness and belief inside Wembley Stadium. The man who exudes Liverpool, had piloted England towards Brazil 2014, and a chance to lift the ornament that would take pride possession on any mantelpiece.
However it is off the pitch where Roy Hodgson’s tactics have been a revelation - winning the homes games and not losing the away games. With this being an ethic he stuck by, through criticism and commendation. Yet, the cerebral nature of Hodgson elongates beyond the surface.
For an England manager, team selection is the pinnacle but toughest part of the job. With the opportunity to visit any Premier League for 38 weeks of the year, selection goes further than just the 11 men on the team sheet. The in depth thought to Hodgson’s men is one that has not had great recognition, but has built the foundation and dynamics of the team that has sent us to the World Cup, please welcome; Hodgson’s Links.
Joe Hart | The Vocal Point
Call him arrogant, but the Manchester City man between the sticks knows what he is doing. Performance has dipped in the past 6 months, with such insurance of his place in the team, however the passionate keeper barks instructions like a field sergeant – and his presence is as invaluable as his ability.
Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend | The Spurs Speedsters
With the right sideline being bossed by these well acquainted team mates, speed is of the essence. The attacking intent of Kyle Walker bodes perfectly with revelation Andros Townsend as interchange and overlapping by the two makes the least of England fans salivate. A true partnership that could prove an avenue of attacking supremacy in Brazil.
Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard | The Passionate Blues
Though Mourinho’s ever changing Chelsea XI may not complement both Cahill’s and Lampard’s domestic careers, they are certainly prized by Hodgson. Still in the blues over his England career from that farcical goal that never was against Germany in 2010, Lampard is enthusiastic as ever to make this England team achieve something, in what will be his last World Cup. The anchorman role of Lampard in the team has the assurance of Gary Cahill behind, a defender with pure passion and dedication to his team, the next John Terry – if you ask me.
Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines | The Hard Toffees
With Roberto Martinez installing a new passing philosophy to Everton this year, Phil Jagielka not only now has the bulldog spirit to his game, but also a more intricate passing quality. This new found skill is utilised in the England outfit to feed ever energetic Leighton Baines, who runs the left line creating chances and diffusing attacks to the content of his natural ability. Players like Baines make special things happen, he’s penned in ahead of Ashley Cole on my team sheet.
Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney | The Resourceful Reds
Despite not enjoying the best of times domestically with club side Manchester United, the industrial and innovative duo has been firing on all cylinders for country. Welbeck offers a natural adolescence to the trio behind Daniel Sturridge, running at will to contain and expose the opposition. However one criticism of the 22-year-old forward is his final product, something which has come unsurprisingly to Wayne Rooney this season. Netting 7 goals in the qualification campaign, Rooney has excelled under Hodgson, and the comfort of having Manchester United compatriot Welbeck next to him has worked wonders.
Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge | Chalk and Cheese
Very different players and people in their own right. One, a classic professional majoring in tackling and passing, the other, a young confident skill-meister majoring in suspect dancing. However, the combination of the two results in very fruitful prospects for England – a partnership which could blossom the more time it is given.
Links. Something as simple as choosing two players from a club who bode well together and sticking them on the pitch with others who share the same quality, has propelled England to Brazil. And though it’s too early to construct our over expectant statements for Brazil, let’s just live for the now. No screw it, we’re gonna win the World Cup.