The pressure is on, the excitement is there, and the fans patiently wait for the England national team to succeed on the world stage. Unfortunately, for English fans, the English national team has not won the World Cup since 1966 and it will be a long time coming before they win again.
1) Zero defenders with offensive abilities: let’s face it, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Jamie Carragher and Ashley Cole are not offensive defenders. They do not make runs up the field and help in the offensive buildup and eventual goal scoring opportunities. They don’t possess this type of talent and if called upon this can become a problem. They only score headers off of corner kicks which is scary when you think of the many different ways attacking defenders can contribute on offense.
When you look at past World Cup winning teams they have each had defenders that could be easily be thrust into an offensive role and become successful. This current England squad is missing a player like this. The only player who has this ability is Owen Hargreaves who was not selected due to injury. Without this option England’s offensive options become limited and greater pressure is put upon their strikers.
2) Constant Media/Fan Pressure: unlike any other nation in the world, the English soccer team receives the most media attention whether it is positive or negative. No matter how accustomed an individual or collective group are to the media this attention has an effect on you. Some players might be more calm in dealing with the pressure but not everyone. For example, take Robert Green’s blunder. A world class goalie yet for some reason dropped all basics and let nerves get the better of him on the world stage. It surely wasn’t a great way to start the World Cup no matter how positive the England camp was.
Similar to the media frenzy around the players is the pressure and expectations that come from fans. A team of England’s history, status and caliber is expected to be the best – nothing less. So when they don’t play up to par with their expectations, fans get frustrated and lash out. When fan’s get frustrated, so do the players. What this ultimately does is it creates a negative atmosphere all around. Instead of working together, the fans and players will turn on each other. Take this most recent example of Wayne Rooney. After England tied Algeria in the 2010 World Cup in a major disappointment, Rooney expresses his discontent with English fans who booed the team off the field: “nice to see your own fans booing you…that’s what loyal support is.” Instead of channeling his energy into a positive one, he creates a negative one:
3) Too many team captains: with all the team captains mixed together there is no doubt that an internal battle for leadership exists. And the fact that John Terry – England’s original captain – was having an affair with former teammate Wayne Bridge’s at-the-time-girlfriend didn’t help the England cause. Terry’s captaincy was rightfully removed although there is no doubt that he lost teammates and fans respect. His teammates will never look at him the same. In a short period of time the captaincy went from John Terry, to Rio Ferdinand (injured) and then Steven Gerrard. You can’t help but feel that there are too many chiefs on the field and not enough Indians.
4) The team is not deep enough in quality: England have few players that can create for themselves in comparison to teams like Brazil, Argentina, Holland, France and Germany. They have few players that can take opponents on 1 v 1 and create an opportunity out of nothing. This current England squad has relied heavily on Wayne Rooney to produce the goods. Unfortunately for England fans Rooney has been ice cold this World Cup. When one takes a closer look at Rooney, he scored in almost every game for England leading up to the World Cup. In fact, Rooney was having his best season ever for club and country leading up to the World Cup. There was concern that he might not be able to carry this form into the tournament. England were relying too heavily on him and without him scoring there is panic within the England camp.
How is this different than any other team? Each team at the World Cup experiences pressure and has their own expectations. However, no nation experiences the kind of scrutiny that the English national team does. Every minute detail is scrutinized to the fullest. This formula does not create success. The quality of players is deeper within most other nations and with less media scrutiny.
The team that wins the World Cup often has a player or group of players that are at the top of their game. They may also be the best players their nation has ever produced. These players also become the best in the world for their respective positions. For example, Brazil has much depth in all positions but their depth in the striker position is second to none. In recent time, they have had some of the world’s best forwards to chose from including Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Robinho and Ronaldinho. When you look at other nations there are star players but you never know who might produce a moment of brilliance. For example, look at Argentina’s star studded team. Lionel Messi is their main man in the attack but few would expect Gonlazo Higuain to bag a hatrick in a 4-1 win over South Korea in the first round of play. The point being, the best nations have the best options. England are lacking!
The passion for the game of soccer will never leave the English fans but their expectations should greatly change. Expecting to win the World Cup is a long stretch considering the talent they are up against. The reality is the players are grossly overpaid for the quality they bring to the game. One can’t help but think that, in fact, England is an over-achieving country rather than an under-achieving country. The England team is often upset or given great stress from playing a nation with nowhere near the same soccer history (i.e. Croatia, United States, Algeria to name but a few).
On a positive note, England always puts on a show, whether it’s a good one or bad one. Soccer fans will always tune in to follow the England team and die hard fans aren’t going anywhere anytime soon…just don’t get your hopes up.