Now that the route to Rio has been navigated Andy Robinson wants to dream, not fear another quarter-final heartbreak. Bring on the kids!
Today is my day off from work and after the smallest of lie-ins I got out of bed, made a brew and like most sport fans reached out for the remote and stuck Sky Sports news on. I was greeted with the sight of one of last night’s players being interviewed and he said this; “we are all really looking forward to next summer in Brazil”. I imagine I am not the only England supporter who was delighted by Tuesday night’s result and the country’s impressive victory over Poland. Opinion on the national team has always varied from both the public and the media but the one thing never encountered in my football lifetime which stretches back to 1968 and the age of 7 has been indifference. Yet it has been very noticeable over the last couple of years that there has been a lack of jingoism surrounding the national side. The excitement of the Premier league and the Champions League, the England manager being such a dour, average character and the complete certainty that if we qualified we would be doing little more than making up the numbers, have all led to the current state of affairs. We need to remember though as far as World Cup’s go this one is a biggie. Brazil. The home of Garrincha, Pele, Socrates and the game still played in the street. As a fan I want to get excited and go over the top. What I need is hope and a dream. After listening to a few shows on Talksport and viewing more than a few football forums it looks like the fans have a consensus.
The consensus is change. The fan in the country wants to see the back of the same old faces and for England to do what our greatest national rivals the Germans did at the last World Cup and that is to throw in the kids. We already have a large number of young players in the squad with a decent number of caps and enough experience of games that matter to have the nucleus of a side. We do though have a significant downside. I am trying desperately not to be negative but Kyle Walker, Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley just don’t look up to international standard to me. Yet they still have time on their side to improve and I would much rather see them given the opportunity than to see older players such as Glen Johnson, Lescott and Barry play in the side despite them being far superior to their younger rivals. Hodgson has gone this far already, the public now needs him to see him go all the way. It really is that simple.
The footballer who greeted me this morning with a big smile on his face was Michael Carrick. I have always been a fan of Carrick. I like a midfielder who plays as if he is smoking a cigar because he has all the time in the world. I like a player who passes to feet and I like those players who you only realise how good they are when they are out injured. Alongside Gareth Barry (mentioned earlier), Carrick personifies this. However it’s still the right time for him to go. We have far more senior players to unceremoniously kick into touch though, Gerrard, Lampard and Ashley Cole. The last three survivor’s from the much talked about, “golden generation”.
Gerrard is a player I have never been a fan of and in my opinion he has never performed for England in the big games but even I can’t argue that he has played a crucial role during this campaign. Frank on the other hand is a player I love but he has become less important to the team and often these days he finds himself on the bench. Ashley Cole, alongside Joe Hart and Rooney is the only Englishman who without stretching your imagination too far could be considered world class. Shut the door on your way out and thanks for all you’ve done fellas!
We also need to see the back of the two centre half’s. Cahill and Jagielka are the best two English defenders out there but we all know they will be seriously lacking at the very highest level and if we replace them now it’s just possible that we may reap the rewards not in Brazil but as Joe Public (and Glenn Hoddle )said, at the next European Championships in 2016. Throw the kids in and win, lose or draw we can at least still look forward and still have a dream.
Who do we have that’s good enough is the wrong question to ask. We need to ask who might be good enough. At the back we have potential in Phil Jones, Micah Richards, Steven Caulker, Kieron Gibbs and Luke Shaw. In midfield we have potential and a little experience in Wilshire, Henderson, Oxlade – Chamberlain, Rodwell, Ross Barkley and a couple of dark horses in Ravel Morrison and the kid at Derby County Will Hughes. Up front we have what we saw last night. Excellent all round play from a Rooney in form, pace and surprise from Andros Townsend and excellent movement and work rate from Sturridge and Wellbeck and an injured Walcott watching from the stands.
Roy has just been interviewed again on the radio. After being fawned over by football no–nothing and former fat cricketer Darren Gough, Roy praised the quality of the experience in his squad. Special mention’s went out to Carrick, Cole, Gerrard, Johnson, Lampard , Defoe and others. He isn’t going to change it now and so with eight months left before the tournament begins the fate of the national team for the next two tournaments at least is sealed. Last 16 or last 8 and knowing that the past always repeats itself, a miserable penalty shoot out exit. Shame on you Roy.
At least the next manager will be foreign. We have four English managers in the premiership at the moment – Allardyce, Pardew, Holloway and Steve Bruce. I am not a gambling man, but I will stick a cheeky “life savings” on none of them ever being offered Roy’s job.
Let’s all hope he is brave and talented.