England won't be pretty but will be hard to beat
I can't remember the last time English expectations were this low going into a major championships.
A change of manager so close to the start of the tournament, a number of injuries in the build-up and a huge furore over the non-selection of Rio Ferdinand have all played their part in dampening fans' hopes for them to be successful.
Contrary to Ireland, it is difficult to predict who will get the nod to start their opening game against France what with Bent, Walker, Cahill, Barry and Lampard all out injured and Rooney missing the first two matches through suspension.
Having watched England's two warm-up games against Norway and Belgium, I think there are seven certain starters with four places up for grabs.
Assuming everyone is fit, I think this is how England will line up against France:
JOHNSON ? TERRY COLE
? PARKER GERRARD ?
The four question marks lie over who will partner John Terry in central defence, the two wide men and who will lead the line up front.
Starting at the back, I think Joleon Lescott is in pole position. It is a straight choice between him and Jagielka and, considering Jagielka was only on standby originally, you would assume the City man will get the nod. The issue is complicated slightly by the fact that Lescott and Terry both prefer to play on the left side of central defence but I still think Lescott will get the nod.
Out wide I have a feeling Roy Hodgson will pick Milner and Downing, especially against the French. I expect he will be more defensive with his selection for the first game and those two are probably the better option in terms of getting back into shape and being organised and compact. That would leave Walcott and Oxlaide-Chamberlain on the bench.
Up front the choice appears to be between Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck. They are very different players and it is difficult to know which way it will go. It may be that if Ashley Young does indeed play centrally off the striker then Welbeck will be given a start. They are team mates at United, showed a good understanding against Belgium and combined well for the goal.
Welbeck obviously provides more pace as well but I wouldn’t rule out Carroll. He's clearly a more physical threat and, if England do play more defensively, then they will want the ball to be held up front to allow the midfielders to join. I honestly don’t know which of the two Hodgson will pick.
As for England's key men, Ashley Young has become a prominent figure and has started to add goals to his game as well. Six in his last 10 matches at this level is testament to that and it is important that he sees as much of the ball as possible.
The skipper Steven Gerrard is still a brilliant player but will have to temper his natural game slightly if asked to play in a holding midfield role. He can still cause problems for the opposition though with his wonderful range of passing.
Joe Hart has become one of the best in the business. He is still very young but plays with great confidence which helps the back four.
The first two games of the Hodgson reign suggest that England will play in a similar fashion to that of Ireland. It may not always be pretty but they will definitely be organised and difficult to beat.
It won’t be enough to win the competition in my view but it will be at least good enough to get through the group and into the quarter-finals. After the traumatic build-up that would represent something of a success.
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The thing the English FA need to do is to invest heavily in youth development, improve technical ability rather than playing kick and rush. When I lived in Madrid a friend of mine worked at a youth football academy and the number of young kids there and the quality of the facilities was amazing. Here, the government is more interested in selling off school playing fields for a quick buck. Italy did the same in the 60's and took on the problem of their failing national side. If they can do it, so can England. If the FA decide to stick with the status quo and go on replacing managers, then England will continue to fail.
Unless we see similar changes here, we will have to endure the familiar fate that we have come to expect from England teams from the last 30 years. The FA need to wake up and so do the die-hard fans. The first step is to accept there is a problem with English football and to put in place a stategy to change. I have seen this level of investment in Spain and just look at what they have achieved in the last 6 years... Only a European cup and World cup...
A pic of Rooney with the caption "England won't be pretty"
NO **** SHERLOCK !!!!
Greece Won the Euro's and who the hell would of thought that....!!!
Chelsea Won Champions league by complete luck...
Anything could happen....!!!!
Say it as we all say and think. Nobody inspires so nobody gets excited any more. Prove us all wrong, just for once.
We also have so many players in this country, Prove yourself or loose your place.
Hunger has always paid dividends.!
Woo hoo, lucky omen then, since Matt Holland also predicted Chelsea couldn't possibly get past Barcelona.
But to be honest, he's probably got this one right, but then again, it's not a bold prediction really is it?
HATE TO SAY IT BUT ............
THEY COMING HOME, THEY COMING HOME, ENGLANDS COMING HOME..................
Its the same old same old story again. When will the people in charge of the English National Team ever learn ? The fact that they've taken the same sorry players with them again, most of whom failed miserably the last couple of times around, speaks volumes for the hopeless mistakes these selectors repeatedly make ! They certainly don't live in the real world and choose to take no notice of the common opinions on they're delusional ideals. They're so wound up in their little 'football world' that they can't see the wood for the trees !.. They'll be lucky to make it through the first round..
Difference about this time is there's absolutely no expectation and no pressure on anyone to deliver and it's times like this that people bring out there best. I think we'll be surprised at how well we will do.
The team that wins the tournament will be the team with a good defence capable of keeping possession and able to hit the back of the net
sounds obvious but England are not good at possession play
The defence is good but have we got the ability to score goals?
only time will tell (Fingers crossed)
Terry should not be in the team at all, he is a despicable person, he should not represent our country until after the findings of the racist court case against him.
L mc made some valid points about the team a few posts down from this one, we should be bringing in more young players, we have too many foreign players in our leagues, several of our squad have had their day. we need a shake up,new blood with fire and a will to win, not just turn up for the hot bath. Having said all that I shall still be shouting them on and willing them to win,or at least put on a good show.
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