As I watched Milivoje Novakovic slide his shot past Joe Hart one man in the pub with a wry smile stated to his friend ‘Well there goes my 4-0 bet.’ Two things immediately struck me. Why is this guy betting on England to win against Slovenia 4-0 and why is he not that bothered that England are losing?
Let’s examine the first question. Now England have been no stranger to a big win in qualifying campaigns. Their last win by four goals was back in March at home to Lithuania who are 96th in FIFA World Rankings and they beat San Marino by five last year who are 192nd. Slovenia though are ranked 48th and played out a 3-1 defeat at Wembley and have a goalkeeper, Samir Handanovic who is good enough to be linked with Man United to replace the potentially outgoing David Dea Gea. This is England though, the home of football, where it all began, home of the Premier League, the best league in the world and where the hell is Slovenia?
I do fear irrational patriotism clouds the judgement of abilities and plain ignorance of countries which are not popular holiday destinations leaves teams completely underestimated. Therefore, expectations on the national team are far too high. Yes, we should be doing better, but we don’t have the players nor do we have the coach.
All but one of the starting eleven play for top six teams but lets’s look at those in detail. Joe Hart is no doubt a top keeper but isn’t quite in the elite. This is probably a high point. The back four is consisting of a left back who is back up at his club to a man that’s the back up for their national team in Kieran Gibbs. A right back who is center back and also a figure of fun on social media. Gary Cahill plays for the best team in the country but is secondary to John Terry and Chris Smalling currently plays centre half for a team constantly linked with numerous new centre backs.
Forward to the midfield, Jordan Henderson is a reasonably bright spark in a team that finished 6th in the league the equivalent to Villareal, Genoa or Schalke. Jack Wilshere had his best game in an England shirt but wouldn’t get in the Arsenal first team. Fabian Delph plays for Aston Villa and isn’t really considered good enough for a top four team. Andros Townsend is second choice behind Erik Lamela, enough said, despite Lamela’s obvious potential. Raheem Sterling has had a lot more negative headlines than positive recently and Rooney hadn’t scored since April 4th before the game. Should this team be beating Slovenia 4-0? I don’t think so but that man in the pub represents the average football fan and he is being let down because England should be better, should have better players but we must accept we don’t and we must do our best and that most likely will be another quarter final at the Euro’s next year.
I remember when Tottenham were going through a really bad spell back in November and someone on a spurs podcast said; ‘The worst thing a club can do is make the fans not care.’ That is exactly what has happened to many England fans, many fail to even know when a game is to be played, who the opposition is or just simply don’t care anymore. This is Roy’s responsibility, we need an exciting England a team who plays quick attacking football but that is also versatile and may actual beat some of the real big boys because we aren’t one anymore. We beat Brazil in a friendly back in 2013 but you have to go back to 2002 when David Beckham’s penalty defeated Argentina 1-0 to when England beat a top team in a competitive match, now that isn’t good enough but don’t expect it to change any time soon.
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