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Monday, March 26, 2012

Three Lions Misery. EURO 2012 Preview : England

God save the queen... God save the England national Team..

Perhaps for the first time in quite a while the expectation levels on the team have been quite less. For a team boasting of many a star players the blot of not being to achieve something decent for over a decade has only deepened.  John Terry's racism case, Fabio Capello's resignation, Wayne Rooney's suspension has only made sure that if England can pull off something from the EUROS it would be quite an achievement.

For a team which has given the world the game of football, only one major trophy, when Bobby Moore lifted the 1966 World cup seems to be such an unimaginable thing. And in the past decade it's only been worse. The team has not progressed beyond the quarter final stage in each of the major tournaments in the last 10 years and yes, didn't even manage to qualify for EURO 2008. So much for a team which has players earning vulgar wages while they ply their trade week in week out in some of the biggest leagues mainly the English Premier League.

14th December 2007 - In comes a man , a man who had guided the likes of Milan, Madrid, Juventus to  major titles. A man who was a strict disciplinarian, a man who could move mountains. Fabio Capello the Italian was brought in to replace a disappointing Steve Mclaren under whom England failed to qualify for a major tournament for the 1st time in 14 years and the European Championship in 24 years. He was brought in to develop a culture in a team bereft of discipline and to blood youngsters so that England's future could sail safely. 4 years down the line Capello has left a team which hasn't developed even a inch. The older players are being phased out while the youngsters are left with no direction.

Since the FA is not yet determined to find a permanent replacement for Capello it is difficult to predict who goes to the EUROS to represent the three lions. Managers usually prefer one player over the other and with no one in sight it only remains a mystery. 2010 World cup saw the 4-4-2 formation used disastrously by England where they could only manage to score a paltry 3 goals in 4 games which exposed their weakness. A couple of years down the line though the numbers might seem good, there hasn't been any improvement. Capello abolished the 4-4-2 and tried the 4-1-4-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-1-2-3 but there hasn't evolved a player who could go ahead and score about 10 goals. While England scored 17 goals during the qualifying season, the highest number of goals scored by an individual player was 3 goals which was jointly shared by Rooney, Bent , Young and Defoe. On the other hand the Dutch team had Huntelaar who scored 12 goals with Robin Van Persie and Dirk Kuyt chipping in with 6 goals each. Such is the cutting edge which is missed by the English team.

Curse of the Caretaker?

While we all saw the result of the England vs Netherlands friendly where England came from 2 goals down to eventually lose by Robben's stoppage time goal, everyone said it was a heart breaking moment, I would say not. It was like a bunch of kids playing against 11 professionals. Stuart Pearce went the AVB away by leaving out his senior players and drafting in young legs, those whom he had coached earlier in the U-21 level. While England showed the strength to score 2 solid goals, it will take the team a long time to rebuild if they ever would want to get something positive from the upcoming EUROS. But wasn't it refreshing for the English fan to see an English man at the reigns of the England football team? Wasn't it good to see some pace on the ground against a team which slipped easily through the English players? While Mr. Pearce could make a difference , the FA delaying things in appointing a permanent manager for the EUROS gives the team a lesser chance to challenge for the title. Also Mr .Redknapp being in contention doesn't make it comfortable for many of them out there. It either is Mr . Redknapp or it isn't him. The cat and mouse game is helping no one. Harry's current role as Tottenham manager might not go well with some of the players from other clubs as they might not agree to some of his tactics and consequently cause trouble in the team. Also juggling between club and country isn't for 65 yr old Harry. Just a month's preparation could jeopardize the English's chances a great deal. In all fairness, Pearce should be given a chance considering the U-21 team has done much better under his watchful eyes.

Players who could make a difference:

Joe Hart:

40 minutes into their 2010 World Cup campaign and Robert Green made the shocker, not a shocker but 'the shocker' of their campaign from where there was no way back. He was unceremoniously dropped and David James took over when there was a budding GK on the bench . Since then Joe Hart has come of age with his showmanship which have made him the number one GK not only at Manchester City but also for the Three Lions proving that his claim for No 1 shirt is real deal.. Since the departure of David Seaman from the international scene there hasn't been a GK who could instill so much confidence and energy in the English team, which Joe Hart has positively done. His remarkable reflexes , perfect positioning and last ditched saves have certainly given England a positive edge at the back . They do not have to worry about a ball slipping out of the goal keepers fingers, or squeeze under his body . Hart has been backed to take over England's captaincy post Terry's axing citing his positive image and performing and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets it with Pearce at helm.

Alex 'Ox' Chamberlain :

Will he make the flight to Poland and Ukraine or not is a mystery but if I were to be asked to choose one player to make up the 23 it would be 'The Ox'. While his club mate Jack Wilshere might have a better chance of making the EURO trip if he recovers in time according to his manager Arsene Wenger, it's Ox's physical tenacity and powerful playing style which has set him apart. While Adam Johnson is favorite to take over the AMR position Ox's strength along with his powerful runs zipping through opposition defenders could ultimately be the difference in the long run. He isn't simply called 'The Ox in the Box'.


To predict who flies and who doesn't to the EUROS is highly impossible considering an unstable England atmoshpere at the moment.The South African demons have not been exorcised for many fans or some players and overall  England haven't done well at the Euros. Luck hasn't always been with them , but they  have also underperformed shabbily. Not having qualified for the 2008 European edition , England would want to make amends in Poland and Ukraine.Unanswered questions need to answered.

Is he the ONE?

Will Capello's successor go for youth or - again - put forth the tried, tested, ageing and fading legs?
Can England's revamped back-line cope when confronted by real quality?
Is Steven Gerrad the right man to lead England ?
Are there credible strikers who can fill in for Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent at Euro 2012?
Will the FA finally have an English gentlemen as the manager of the national team?

If you can answer these you could go ahead and predict England's fortunes at Euro 2012..


  1. cannot blame capello for his actions post 2010 wc. he laid the foundations for the future england team.
    introducing hart in goal, playing smalling/jones at RB, cahill alongside terry, parker-wilshere cm partnership, solving left wing conundrum by playing young and could very well have opted to play gerrard alongside rooney in the latter stages of the championships.
    to me he did nothing wrong post WC'10 and his biggest move was admitting he made a mistake with his preparations pre-WC during training.

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